(Posted March 27, 2017)

A closeup shot of the cover of "Clan Apis," by Jay Hosler.
A closeup shot of the cover of "Clan Apis," by Jay Hosler.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Many artists using countless mediums of expression point to cartoons and comic books as early inspiration, so it’s truly fitting that the Juniata College Museum of Art will showcase the work of the college’s own comic book artist, Jay Hosler, professor of biology in an exhibit opening Thursday, April 6 and running through Sept. 9.

            The show, “Drawing Flies: Jay Hosler’s Science Comics,” traces the development of Hosler’s work as a graphic novelist from his first comic book, created in the late 1990s and turned into a graphic novel called “Clan Apis,” to his most recent work, “The Last of the Sandwalkers.” There will a talk at Beeghly Library at 4 p.m. as Hosler introduces the library’s collection of classic comic books as well as an opening reception for the art exhibit at 5 p.m., Thursday, April 6 in the museum.

            “This exhibit in part explains what comics are meant to do, teach people things,” says Hosler. “You’ll learn about how comics are made, how they’re read and you’ll learn a little bit about science.”

            The six-month exhibit features a variety of interactive exhibits that will allow visitors to experience how a cartoonist works and thinks. For example, there will samples of Hosler’s comic book pages set up so visitors can turn the pages of the exhibit as they would on a smaller-scale comic book.

            The museum also has mounted some of Hosler’s work on flat magnets that can be laid out in multiple sequences, enabling visitors to create new stories or stories of their own. There also will be stations where visitors can draw their own comic book and several beanbag chairs available to read extra copies of Hosler’s novels. Also in the offing is a display of mounted insects from Juniata’s entomology collection.

"You'll learn about how comics are made, how they're read and you'll learn a little bit about science."

Jay Hosler

            “We’ve mounted pages from Jay’s original work,” says Kathryn Blake, director of the museum. “They are behind plexiglass and not framed.”

            Hosler arrived at Juniata in 1999 as an assistant professor -- his first faculty job after working as a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University. In addition to his teaching and research expertise as a neurobiologist, he also brought along a drafting table and a lot of sketches of bees, flowers, other insects and Charles Darwin.

            In 2001, Hosler’s five comic books, called “Clan Apis,” were published as a single graphic novel. Clan Apis follows the adventures of Nyuki, as the worker bee goes through her life cycle.

            As a result of his diligent writing, Hosler’s work was recognized in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times and the Associated Press after the publication of “Clan Apis.”

            Since publishing his first graphic novel, Hosler has been steadily producing ambitious graphic novels and the occasional extra assignment -- all while teaching a full load of classes and overseeing research students. His other works include:

            --“The Sandwalk Adventures,” the story of a follicle mite who lives in the eyebrow od Charles Darwin.

            --“Optical Allusions,” a comic book that instructs readers about the anatomy of the eye.

            --“The Last of the Sandwalkers,” which details the adventures of a scientist-beetle named Lucy as she leads other beetle explorers out of a desert oasis.

            The art museum also will display some of Hosler’s freelance work, including small comic strips he creates for his classes and several strips completed for youth science magazines.

            “It’s been a great collaboration,” says Hosler.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.