Kids love to learn and love to read comics – so wouldn’t it be good if they could do both at the same time!
Writer and artist Jay Hosler is also an Associate Professor of Biology at Juniata College in Pennsylvania. Last of the Sandwalkers is his latest graphic novel, and it seems Hosler enjoys combining his day job with his love of comics.
Sandwalkers follows on from the anthropomorphic traditions of the animated feature films Antz and A Bug’s Life. The characters have so many human characteristics that you occasionally forget they’re bugs – you can almost hear Jennifer Lawrence voicing the title character in the movie version.
These clearly defined characters are a joy to follow on their journey out of Coleopolis, their home city. And along the way, as they discover the world outside, so the readers experience it as well.
You’ll learn much from Sandwalkers: apparently, “the overwhelming majority of new species have six legs, three body segments, two pairs of wings, and antennae!”
And while at times it feels like explanations have been shoehorned in, the science usually provides the impetus to move the story along. Indeed, if you want more science there’s plenty of annotations and further reading included in the back. There’s also plenty of comic-based easter eggs hidden away as well.
The art is generally cute and lovely, just occasionally trying to do too much. Hosler is a very good and capable artist, but every now and then he perhaps needs to step back and see if he’s communicating everything as clearly as he could. And story-wise, once Hosler introduces computers and mechanics, it’s sometimes difficult to know what the real-life insects can actually do, and what’s been introduced for the sake of the narrative.
Still, Last of the Sandwalkers is a huge amount of fun, a great story, and a clever educational device at the same time.