Come Meet Jay Hosler at the Takoma Park MD Library tomorrow night! Thursday 4/30, 7:30 PM. As he introduces and reads from his epic tale Last of the Sandwalkers. Reviewed below.
LAST OF THE SANDWALKERS (First Second Press, 2015)
Six bold beetles gear up to explore the world beyond their small oasis in the desert. Is there life in the great sandy wastes? Or will the anger of the great god Scarabus smite them for the heresy that is curiosity…
Biology professor Jay Hosler writes interestingly complex and amusing comics that are fairly rustling with intelligence and humor. Best known for his Xeric Award winning Clan Apis, a friendly and personable look at the life cycle of bees, Hosler has also penned a handful of other amusing and edifying graphic stories. Whether we listen in on conversations between Charles Darwin and a follicle mite that lives in his eyebrow (Sandwalk Chronicles) or dive into the soup of human imagination to retrieve a lost eyeball and learn how the structure of the eye evolved over time (Optical Allusions) Hosler clearly loves the process of blending education and entertainment,
In Last of the Sandwalkers Hosler tackles a more straightforward but perhaps more ambitious project: to tell a stand-alone story entertaining on its own merits, while hiding all the biology in the narrative. This is the epic quest of a small band of inquisitive bugs whose inquisitive nature dares them to question the dogma that keeps them in line. Well equipped for anything they could anticipate, except perhaps for jealousy and betrayal…
The characters are well drawn, funny, with distinct differences in appearance and abilities. Their insect technology is cleverly imagined, and aside from some mechanical wizardry, highly plausible. It’s neat to see a biology professor imagineering what innovations bugs would invent to tackle the problems of their world. The plot is tight, great dialogue, the friendship and teamwork of the crew animates the action and adds charm. The secondary plot suggests the political swordfighing of academia and the struggle of rigorous science against blind faith. Friendly upbeat with tense action and fun ‘ick’-factor’ moments (in one moment trying to placate corpse beetles that they are not trying to steal a semi-liquified dead rodent or eat the grubs it contains). Ultimately the tone of the book suggests the optimism and irrepressible nature of science, that the quest for knowledge is a joy in and of itself, that satisfying one’s curiosity is something of a sacred mission. Or to quote from the philosopher Calvin in dialogue with his companion Hobbes::
Which would seem to be the genesis of how one becomes a biology professor, or even a cartoonist known for drawing the lives of weird bugs,
Last of the Sandwalkers is highly recommended for all ages of readers, basically anyone who likes, bugs, science, adventure, humor, cyborgs, and great action.