*Clan Apis — Recommended

Clan Apis is the biography of a honeybee. It’s educational, as you might guess, but it teaches more than biology facts. Each chapter of the story also illustrates a life lesson as well as being wonderfully entertaining. I never thought I could care so much about, or learn so much from, a bee.

The story opens with a bee’s version of the creation of the universe, which turns out to be a tale an older bee, Dvorah, is telling Nyuki, a larva, as Nyuki is prepped for metamorphosis. As the story continues, Nyuki grows to maturity, leaves to establish a new hive with Dvorah and Queen Hachi, and continues learning throughout her life cycle.

Clan Apis cover
Clan Apis
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Along the way, Nyuki comes to understand the necessity of accepting change and facing the future, even if it is scary. The queen teaches her that sometimes it’s necessary to do bad things for a greater good; Dvorah teaches her sometimes it’s necessary to move on. She learns to be patient, take advice from her elders, and be leery of the outside world, because not everyone is looking out for her. But through it all, Nyuki overcomes her fears and worries to do what’s right for her friends and her community. She’s a real hero.

Jay Hosler normally has a rather cartoony style, but it appears less so when applied to insects. (Of course, since we’re looking at them magnified several hundred times, I’m not sure I would know just how much they’re exaggerated.) The concepts are clearly presented, and all the insects have their own unique personalities. Even when they’re the same species, they’re distinguished artistically through size or other characteristics. This is a wonderful all-ages book that couldn’t have been done as effectively in any other medium.

Aside from the elements already mentioned, I really enjoyed the mentor/student relationship between Dvorah and Nyuki, as well as the refusal of the author to sugar-coat the harsher aspects of life without going too far the other way and exploiting them gratuitously.

The collected volume also includes the author’s Killer Bee minicomic, the “mostly true” story of his near-death discovery that he is (ironically) allergic to bee stings. That story can also be read at the Clan Apis website, which also features more background information on the science behind the Clan Apis story.

A 9-page Nyuki story and a short feature on “How to Draw Bees” were included in the Brainbomb anthology, and a 4-page bee tale is part of the 1999 SPX Anthology.

6 Responses to “*Clan Apis — Recommended”

  1. Ed Cunard Says:

    Hosler teaches at one of the universities around here. My wife went there for a year, and still gets their alumni magazine–the only time I read it was when I saw Hosler and CLAN APIS blurbed on the cover. It was nice seeing an interview with a creator done by someone outside of the whole comics industry thing.

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] More information can be found at Hosler’s web site or the Active Synapse web site. Hosler previously created the Clan Apis graphic novel. […]

  3. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] The authors say they want more attention paid to science in comics in the first appendix. I was thus surprised, when they mentioned the state of comics as a whole, including the diversity of what’s being published, that they didn’t mention the true science comics like those done by Jay Hosler or Jim Ottaviani. Books like Clan Apis or Dignifying Science are both entertaining and factual. […]

  4. Comics in the Classroom » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] some familiar books, those often mentioned when this topic comes up — Bone, Amelia Rules, Clan Apis, Age of Bronze — but they’re common choices because they’re so good for the […]

  5. Optical Allusions » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Hosler continues his impressive streak of graphic novels that make science fun. Clan Apis told us of the life cycle of a bee. The Sandwalk Adventures used a mite in Charles Darwin’s […]

  6. Nonfiction Comics of Note (our guest blogger series begins) « English 333 Says:

    […] Hosler, Clan Apis (1999). An inventive and joyous biography of a honeybee; a science lesson that goes down […]




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