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08 October 2002 — Legion of Bugs (3)

It was foggy once last week on my morning drive to work. When I turned from the highway onto Gribble Road, I found myself in the midst of a flock of worried birds. They'd slept beside the road, in the pasture and the pumpkin patch, and the sudden appearance of my car sent them scattering along the ground. They did not fly up and away as one might expect, but instead flew parallel to the car, close to it, scores of small brown birds, fluttering frantically in the fog. They were drawn to the beams of my headlamps, and I struck two or three as I sped past.

I was sadder later in the day, though, when I crushed a caterpillar while searching for a parking spot at Costco. It was one of those fuzzy banded caterpillars, brown and orange.

When I was young, probably five or six, I spent a summer collecting those brown fuzzy caterpillars from our garden. We had a large vegetable garden every year which was home to many brown fuzzy caterpillars. I collected them and held them captive in jars.

I used the biggest jars I could find. Mom's canning jars were off-limits, of course, but mayonnaise jars and pickle jars were perfect. I'd punch holes in the lids with a paring knife so that the caterpillar could have air to breathe. On the side of the jar, I'd write in felt pen the date of capture.

Once when I was nine or ten, I was helping dad light a fire on the burn pile. He pulled me aside and pointed out a weed. It seemed no different than the rest of the weeds until I looked more closely. Attached to the leaf was a cocoon! Dad explained about caterpillars and pupae and cocoons and moths and butterflies.

I went into the house and got a jar. Carefully, I cut the stalk of the weed and placed it in the jar. Over the next few days (weeks?) I watched as the butterfly emerged from its cocoon.

I set it free when it was able to fly.

One day in the third grade, Mrs. Clarke drew a worm on the board. She told us each to draw the same worm and then to decorate it and write a story about it. I called my worm the Meanest Inchworm ("inch by inch he grows meaner"). He had cannons mounted to his head and his crawl was angry. He scowled. You wouldn't want to mess with this inchworm.

Until the week he died, Dad would remind me of this picture and chuckle. It's amazing what parents remember about your schoolwork. What I remember most from third grade is learning about molecules and being introduced to algebra.

In seventh grade, Darren Misner and I spent most of our first period drafting class drawing comic books instead of drawing orthagonal projections of various blocks like the rest of the class.

In eighth grade, Darren Misner and I spent most of our first period journalism class drawing comic books instead of writing news stories for the school paper like the rest of the class.

I cannot recall what kinds of comics Darren liked to draw. I think he liked standard super hero fare, with an emphasis on hard-boiled detective yarns.

I liked to draw bugs.

I created teams of animal and insect superheroes. There was the Hare Squad, a team of high-powered rabbits. Five years before the appearance of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I had my own team of superhero tortoises. (Mine were not teenagers, though, nor were they ninjas.)

My favorite creation was the Legion of Bugs.

The Legion of Bugs was led by my favorite creation: BUG. BUG was an amazingly strong potato bug, like the Hulk, only not green and much smaller (but still angry and stupid). BUG's arch-enemies were RAID and Black Flag.

Other members of the Legion of Bugs included:

  • Starbug—Starbug was a mysterious insect from outer space. He was an amorphous blob sort of bug, more an ameoba than an insect. This amoeba-ness was quite useful. Because Starbug was an extraterrestrial insect, he was unable to communicate with the other bugs except through telepathy.
  • Superbug—The goody two-shoes of bug superheroes, Superbug was based exclusively on Superman. In fact, he was a parody of Superman, a character that I hated. (I hated most DC heroes at this time.)
  • Spitbug—Spitbug was awesome. With his long proboscis he was able to use his ranged attack to lend support to the other members of the team.
  • Meanest Inchworm—I wonder where he came from?
  • Firebug—The volatile pyromaniac insect equivalent of the X-Men's Wolverine. Firebug had a hot temper and often raged out of control so that his teammates had to work to keep him on the side of insect justice.
  • Black Widow—Beautiful but deadly. The only female member of the team.
  • The Japanese Beetle—A master of martial arts, the Japanese Beetle was a potent combination of samurai and ninja. He flew into battle wielding four samurai swords, but was also capable of using stealth to accomplish his objectives.
There were other bugs, of course, but they were of lesser importance.

The Legion of Bugs lived in an abandoned anthill somewhere in rural America. The humans around them had no idea just how many times these benevolent insects had saved the world from complete destruction.

On this day at foldedspace.org

2004World Views   During my freshman year of college, all students were required to take a seminar called World Views, a semester-long course intended to introduce us to the mindset of a particular group of people during a particular era.

2003Groggy   In which I take a nap and wake up groggy.

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On 08 October 2003 (07:54 AM), Joel said:

I can't believe I missed this entry the first go-round! Man, I always wanted to make a comic book, but was freakishly impaired when it came to drawing. So I would think up all kinds of plots and action sequences and then, with an industriousness that marks my efforts to this day, utterly fail to write them down. Which of the bugs was the wise-cracker? Spitbug? I have a desire for it to be Starbug, just to play him against type. So many ET heroes are woefully wooden or grim.

On 08 October 2003 (08:06 AM), J.D. said:

Well, the reason I drew bugs instead of humans is that I, too, am unable to draw well. I drew bugs and rabbits and turtles.

Darren and I rarely completed a full comic book. (Darren was better at completing them than I was. In fifth and sixth grade, he even sold some photocopied comics through the school store.) We drew a lot of covers, though. I remember that I completed the cover to BUG #37, and it wouldn't suprise me if I'd completed as many covers to The Legion of Bugs. It's unlikely that I completed an entire issue of either one, though.

Part of the problem was that we didn't script our stories. We just started drawing, and let the story lead us whereever it wanted to go. Another part of the problem was that it took a long time to complete even a single page of a comic book. Even a comic book drawn by a seventh-grader.

Ah, comics.

Fall is coming on and winter will soon be here. Time a-plenty for geeky comic book reading!

On 06 January 2005 (09:01 PM), Buddy Jones said:

Hello, My name is Buddy Jones, creator of the KatawbaWormz. The dawn of a new stanking bug adventure is here, a Frass Flinging adventure that is...please visit www.KatawbaWormz.com

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