October 28, 2014
Jonas Salk's 100th Birthday
Polio is nearly a thing of the past, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Jonas Salk. In 1952, Dr. Salk discovered and developed the first successful vaccine for polio. Combined with Albert Sabin’s oral vaccination, the virus is no longer the threat to the world that it used to be.
For the art, doodler Mike Dutton wanted to focus on those that benefited from this scientific milestone. Adults and children alike are susceptible to the disease, but children were especially at risk due to how the disease was transmitted.
“In earlier concept sketches, I wanted to show polio as something being conquered,” says Dutton.
“But it was also a little weird to show this monstrous, evil thing in an illustration, even if I was showing happy, able-bodied children literally overcoming the disease by jumping over it.”
Digging a little deeper, he learned that when the news of a vaccine was announced, people around the world spontaneously celebrated. Shopkeepers closed up shop for the day, factories observed a moment of silence, teachers and parents wept. “It was a pretty scary thing at the time. To go from something affecting hundreds of thousands of people around the world per year to just under a thousand cases today – it was a pretty big deal. That was my visual cue to show a town scene with both kids and adults celebrating, running around, enjoying themselves.”
Dr. Jonas Salk himself was a humble man and never patented the vaccine, forgoing an immeasurable fortune. When asked who owned the patent, Salk said it was the people that owned it, adding,”Could you patent the sun?”
Happy 100th, Dr. Jonas Salk!