Monday, December 20, 2021

31 Days Of CCS #20: Ross Wood Studlar

It's always good to see a new comic from Ross Wood Studlar, the forest ranger/cartoonist. His comics always center around nature and folk tales. His latest, Can Jumping Spiders See The Moon?, is one of the more technically accomplished comics of his career as it focused on an interesting arachnid. Studlar details the story of the Jumping Spider, an arachnid interesting because it can see in color and each of its eyes acts like a camera with greater range of visibility than other spiders or insects. Furthermore, it is a patient and strategic hunter, using techniques not unlike big cats, which is unusual considering a jumping spider's brain is tiny compared to that of a lion. 

Studlar's feathery, beautiful line is equal to the task of making the spider come alive. Studlar captures their movements and general lively quality, then shifts over to an equally well-drawn fantasy scene of a jumping spider playing a lion in a game of chess. Studlar's throughline is wondering about what these spiders think about; what do they make of sights like the moon? How much of their cleverness as hunters is tied into their sensory apparatus, and how much of it is tied to larger cognitive capacity? These are interesting questions, and Studlar's natural curiosity rewards the reader in a comic that is informative but is far from a dry recitation of facts. There's always an element of narrative in his work. This feels like a chapter in a longer work about Studlar's observations, and it seems he's been building them for quite some time. 

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