Last of the Sandwalkers
By Jay Hosler
Author’s Website: http://www.jayhosler.com/
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
Last of the Sandwalkers is a graphic novel that even non-comic readers can pick up and enjoy. It’s an joyous story of insects and their trials and tribulations in a world hither unknown to them. It speaks to tweenies and to the oldest of us all, with the story well paced and exciting, yet keeping all factors of insect life firmly rooted in science.
It follows the exploits of the duplicious Dr. Owen, Lucy the single minded scientist and her quest to find life outside the ants “Oasis,” the only life they’ve ever known – a city on the edge of nowhere. It also recounts the tales of her friends and compatriots in her quest, Raef the “robot,” (one of my favorite characters) Mosey, her brute friend and the other members of her motley family and new found friends. Their encounters surviving the desert against “new life” that would threaten beetles is harrowing indeed.
I found this delightfully educational. Notes on beetles, spiders, etc., in the endnotes harken to years ago when I picked up Rick Geary’s and Jerry Prosser’s Cyberantics, a similar graphic tale of insect life, except it dealt with ants in a fictionalized pubication of the future. I looked back on it with fond memories and found new ones in Last of the Sandwalkers.
The story is written and drawn by Professor of Entomology Jay Holster so you know you’re given the facts, and the endnotes add more color, flavor, and the fact you’re reading about a book based on academic principles, not just a fictionalized story (well except for the miniature jet packs – but in the future of insects, who knows what will happen). The graphic novel also contains a bibliography that entices further academic and non-academic readings into darwinism, entomology, anime and more.
It also sparked my interest in not so futuristic science – insect science: rocket packs, solor heated sleeping bags (so bugs don’t go into a deep coma and die in the freezing desert temperatures), solor water collectors to collect dew, and other devices taken from my and the authors expressed love of Astro Boy and what is available with technology today (Astro Boy doesn’t seem too far off).
I found myself rooting for the protagonists as the story considers the benefits and perils of keeping secrets from the public and maintaining the status quo – much as Darwinism was played out in Victorian England. Dr. Owen is the prime mover in this respect trained to keep the secrets of toutside the Oasis, outside the Oasis hiding it from the general populace. The text can be read, however, either as ecological or social Darwinism. It can go that deep.
As Lucy says to Dr. Owen:
“Pfft. You’re protecting your world. Our world is so much bigger and full of wonders including the most amazing beetles I’ve exer seen.”
The art is airy, sometimes cartoony, and sometimes full of detail. It reminded me of Peter Kuper’s (Heavy Metal) or Rick Geary’s (Heavy Metal, New Yorker) style; bold work where it is needed, for example, in “discoveries,” or items of import but anthropomorphic and cartoony in the playful interactions between characters. It evokes wonders with the words and images in an eye pleasing manner. In comics terms, the synergy of drawing words and writing pictures is quite appropriate.
Fans of Rick Geary’s Cyberantics, Jeff Smith’s Bone, or those who feel like being small and want to quest after big ideas, this is for you. As it is said:
“Mabye someday, if a hue-mon [sic] reads this journal, it will help them appreciate all of the amazing aliens living underfoot.”
This still, however, has not changed my aversion to insects in any sort of description; not one bit.