Optical Allusions

Jay 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 eyebrow to explain evolution. But Optical Allusions may be the weirdest yet.

Optical Allusions cover
Optical Allusions
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Developed in part with a National Science Foundation grant, it’s the story of how Wrinkles the Wonder Brain searches for a lost eye and learns all about the science of vision and eyeballs. Each chapter contains a comic followed by a text section that explains the biological concepts in more depth. It could actually be used as a textbook (if you had a really cool science teacher). Each comic also ends with a cliffhanger, to draw the reader onward in the hopes of seeing Wrinkles complete his quest.

I know this sounds a little dry, but you’re forgetting two things: 1) a walking, talking brain! As the character states early on,

That’s right, I am, in fact, a brain without a person. Strange? Not as strange as all the people walking around without brains.

and 2) Hosler’s sense of humor. Not only is he funny, he’s knowledgeable. Wrinkles reports to the Graeae, the three old women of Greek mythology who share one eye among them. That’s not explained, it’s just there. If you know the reference, cool! If not, they’re funny women with a very odd physical quirk in keeping with the book.

The first main chapter reintroduces Charles Darwin, explaining how eyes evolved. He looks the same as he does in Sandwalk, only he’s a bit more predatory, eating little brain-creatures to demonstrate natural selection. Darwin’s not the only Hosler character to reappear — Cow-Boy (a boy in a cow costume, who starred in a Comic Buyer’s Guide strip a long time ago) shows up in a futuristic superhero chapter that explains the eye’s structure. There are also pirates and stalk-eyed flies, Clio the muse of history, and a blind Cyclops to explain, among lots of other things, why brains are wrinkled, eyeless cave fish, and the uses of light.


8 Responses to “Optical Allusions”

  1. Ed Sizemore Says:


    This is an incredible book. I loved the blend of comics and text. I’m very impressed with Dr. Hosler’s gift as a teacher. The range of science covered in the book is amazing and he’s able to clearly explain all the concepts presented. The Darwin’s feed frenzy was a little tough to take. Thankfully, brains and cauliflower look similar. I’ll definitely purchase his next book. I do wish there were more Cow-boy comics.

  2. Ray Radlein Says:

    Oh, thank goodness. I had wondered what he had been up to since Sandwalk Adventures came out. Looks like time to fire up the old wish list.

  3. Bill D. Says:

    New Jay Hosler? Awesome. Must get. Of course, I need copies of The Sandwalk Adventures and Clan Apis to call my own, but still.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Brains = cauliflower! Great image. Little ambulatory cauliflowers!

    The book can be ordered through the publisher’s website link above. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Dec. 11, 2008: Amazons against bondage Says:

    […] [Review] Optical Allusions Link: Johanna Draper Carlson […]

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  7. Strip News | Strip News | ArtPatient Says:

    […] this look like a fun science book? How much more science would kids learn if it was presented as […]

  8. Coming Up: Good Comics Due February 2011 or Later » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Hosler’s true-science comics (like The Sandwalk Adventures, which explains evolution, or Optical Allusions, about how eyeballs work) are astounding, so I have great hopes for Evolution: The Story of Life on […]




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