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.
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.