by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Last of the SandWalkers, by Jay Hosler. Illustrated by the author.
NYC, First Second, April 2015, trade paperback $16.99 ([5 +] 312 pages), Kindle $9.99.
Biologist/entomologist/cartoonist Dr. Jay Hosler has been creating comic books and cartoon-art books since the 1990s. He may be best-known for his award-winning Clan Apis, a dramatic adventure featuring honeybees that was also (allowing for the anthropomorphization) entomologically accurate; first published as a five-issue comic book in 1998 and still in print as a graphic novel today. Now Hosler has written & drawn Last of the SandWalkers, a science-fiction comedy-drama for readers 10 and up, featuring beetles, for First Second, a subsidiary of publishing giant Macmillan.
The main characters are a scientific expedition of five beetles, all different: Lucy (shown on the cover), a sassy, rule-breaking junior member and a water-capturing tenebrionid beetle from the Southern African desert; Professor Bombardier, the motherly stable team member, a bombardier beetle; Mossy, a giant but unassuming Hercules rhinoceros beetle; Raef, a not-very-bright (mentally) firefly; and grumpy Professor Owen, a small but nasty Cape stag beetle. They are from New Coleopolis, a beetle city under a palm tree in an isolated desert oasis. New Coleopolis was founded a little over a thousand years ago, after old Coleopolis was destroyed by cocoanuts falling on it from the palm tree. It was assumed at the time by religious leaders that the god Scarabus had caused the falling cocoanuts due to displeasure at Coleopolis’ scientific community’s iconoclastic spirit, and since then the new theocratic city has outlawed research. This expedition is the first in a thousand years.