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The Sandwalk Adventures: An Adventure in Evolution Told in Five Chapters    by Jay Hosler order for
Sandwalk Adventures
by Jay Hosler
Order:  USA  Can
Active Synapse, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Whether you see yourself as a descendant of lesser intelligent simians or believe that a deity said, 'Turn on the lights,' you'll find The Sandwalk Adventures a delightful, humorous, intelligent graphic novel for all ages.

After listening to tales of their god, Flycatcher, two mites (Willy and Mara) go for a walk (or is that a crawl?) to discuss what they heard. When it's Mara's turn to speak, a booming voice responds, and they decide that the almighty Flycatcher is talking to them. In fact, Flycatcher replies to Mara because for some unknown reason, he can hear her. Mara and Willy soon discover that they are two mites living in the eyebrow of Charles 'Flycatcher' Darwin near the end of his life. Thereafter, whenever Darwin goes on his daily strolls on the sandwalk, he expounds upon the topic of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Over the course of these conversations, Mara brings the ideas back to her family of mites to explain how their understanding of Flycatcher is all wrong, but of course tradition undermines truth.

Jay Hosler - who has a Ph.D. in Biology and wrote the acclaimed Clan Apis - continues to show his talents as an educator, comic book writer, and artist. Like his previous graphic novel, The Sandwalk Adventures balances education with entertainment giving the reader plenty of both by story's end. It comes as no surprise that this series was nominated for an Eisener Award for Best New Series in 2002. While Clan Apis worked with cold hard facts and little room for debate, part of this graphic novel's charm comes from the smooth manner in which Hosler presents the tension of new ideas pitted against old. His characters articulate good reasons for their refusal or acceptance of natural selection, but given the nature of this piece, natural selection wins out.

Hosler makes sure that his little critters come across more cute than anatomically accurate. Often their scenes don't involve lavish surroundings; they live on a single hair after all. Hosler compensates for this with lavish backgrounds for Darwin when the panel is focused on him. In a graphic novel like this, black and white works better than color which would just distract the reader from the crux of the story and its excitement. The crown gem to this piece comes at the back of the book with twenty-four pages of annotated notes and explanations followed by a bibliography, giving insight to Hosler's sources on Darwin's personal and professional life.

Hosler has demonstrated a knack for entertaining educational pieces that manage to teach without grandstanding on a soapbox. I'm anxious to see what other topics he takes on, to enlighten his readers.

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