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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Clan Apis #2 [1998] (Random Comics Theatre)

Random Comics Theatre

Clan Apis #2 [1998]

This is the only issue of Jay Hosler's 5-issue series about the life of a bee I have, though not for lack of trying. I never did see the series while it was coming out, but caught a short story Hosler did in the 1999 SPX book and really liked it, so when I saw a copy of #2 a while later I picked it up. Never did find any others, so I eventually got the collection instead.

Neat "jam" cover on this issue, which Hosler explains inside. It's about two dozen bees, most of them drawn by kids in Hosler's family, and a few by various comic creators (Paul Chadwick, Stan Sakai, Tara Tallan, Mark Crilley and Marc Hempel). Fortunately Sakai has completist fans, so check here for more.

The 28-page story in this issue is "Swarm", and opens with our hero, the bee Nyuki, making the transformation from larva to fully grown bee. We learn about the inner workings of bee culture along with her as she gets a crash course when shortly after her birth there's a swarm, when half the hive leaves to establish a new colony, and the mechanics of that are explained to her. Nyuki then goes off alone on an ill-advised solo flight, leading to a great cliffhanger ending.

I'm more impressed with Hosler's work every time I look at it, as he combines education with entertainment quite effortlessly, never talking down to the target audience, and with a real gift for natural dialogue. Plus his art is a real treat, very expressive body language for the bees and clean detailed backgrounds. Retroactively one of my favourite books of the 1990s.

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