Hosler, Jay – Clan Apis
It took me long enough, but I finally managed to get this book. A birthday present no less, but here it is. A few comments about it before I get started. You know as soon as you open it that the guy knows what he’s talking about because it’s by Jay Hosler, Ph.D. It’s also always refreshing to see books that aren’t from Top Shelf, or Highwater, or Fantagraphics, or Drawn and Quarterly, or any of those people. Sure, most of the things that they put out are at least pretty good, but it seems so cliquish. Three cheers for the Xeric Grant. Without it there would be a tiny, exclusive club producing quality work and that would be all that we had to choose from.
It’s obvious pretty quick that this isn’t going to be anything like True Swamp. True, Jon Lewis does some serious research, but this guy is already a Ph.D. and obviously knows his stuff up and down. I had huge expectations going into this too, purely because of the great word of mouth surrounding this thing. It’s broken up into 5 chapters and I had some serious doubts after reading the first one. It was informative as hell, don’t get me wrong. I learned all kinds of things that I didn’t know about the process that it takes to make a bee. But the dialogue was dopey as hell and I was starting to think that this was more of an educational book than it was entertaining. Chapter 2 started off pretty dopey too, but at some point in it it got a lot more interesting. The characters were allowed to develop (as much as bees do develop, that is) and it was funny while being informative. He never looked back after that and I liked the rest of the book a lot. Really, if you have any interest in how honey is made, or how bees live, or just how a guy with a Ph.D. would do a comic, get this. There’s a text section in the back called “Bee Lines” that has all kinds of little facts about insects. This is all a lot more interesting than it sounds, I swear. You also get a bonus story at the end about Jay and his sudden allergic reaction to bees, which proves that he really can draw more than just bees. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this in classrooms in a few years. Last word of advice, if you do get this, stick with it. Don’t give up after the first chapter because it gets a lot better. Fun for all ages, in a way that few things are.