- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
That's where it usually begins when your father is an entomologist.
Tom Hammock, son of distinguished professor Bruce Hammock, of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, learned about insects early in life. Young Tom caught, sketched and released such insects as dragonfiles, damselflies and wasps.
"He didn't want to kill them," his father recalled.
Tom took art lessons from noted scientific illustrator Mary Foley Benson, and initially pondered a career as a scientific illustrator. He considered biology as a college major, and finally, landscape architecture. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in landscape architecture, Tom studied film design at the American Film Institute and worked on such films as Breaking Bad, Dexter and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Tom, who now lives in Hollywood, is better known for his work in the wildly popular young adult and horror genre, including "You're Next!" and "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane."
"Will o' the Wisp" is based on many of his father's childhood memories of the Deep South. Bruce Hammock, born in Little Rock, Ark., and a graduate of Louisiana State University, beguiled him with fascinating stories about southern swamps and will o' the wisps, his pet raccoon, a biological supply company, venomous creatures, and dermestid beetles, used to clean animal skeletons.
You'll read about them--and more--in "Will o' the Wisp."
“Almost no one writes for girls and almost no one writes for girls dealing with girls and science,” Tom said. “Graphic novels for girls are rare and have a tough road in the publishing world.”
Assorted bugs, including butterflies, scorpions, fireflies, mosquitoes, beetles and spiders, find their way into the book. And a tattoo of a dermestid beetle found its way on Hutchison's arm. (For more information on the graphic novel, access ossuaryisle.com, and then check out the trailer, Facebook page, and YouTube video.)
"Will o' the Wisp" is drawing rave reviews, and rightfully so. Already it has been nominated for "best young adult graphic novel" award from the American Library Association.
The Hammock-Hutchison team plans to make this a trilogy.
One online comment, with triple exclamation points, says it all: "OMG!! This was so good. I hope and hope and hope there will be more!!!!"
Looking back, entomologist Bruck Hammock commented: "Tom was always interested in landscape, art, and biology. However, film and graphic novels are so far from my background, I never saw this as a career path. In retrospect it is obvious."
And it all began with bugs.