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Your soul will never recover after its encounter with the “Tarantula Hawk” – Walt Disney’s Secrets of Life

July 17, 2014


Disney is the standard-bearer for family friendly entertainment. We can quibble that their output is all too often saccharine and sanitized, but for big eyed animorphs and cloying tugs at heartstrings, you don’t have to go far beyond the Magic Kingdom’s catalog. Your Thumpers, your Shaggy Dogs, et cetera, et cetera. And then you have something like today’s comic, which is nature at its ickiest and grodiest. Bugs!

As the photos on the cover hint, this comic was adapted from one of the True-Life Adventures documentaries that Disney produced in the middle of the last century, narrated nature studies in their own unique manner. The comic version starts out innocently enough, with every child’s favorite brand of creature: a dinosaur. And a Tyrannosaurus Rex, no less:


Okay, so he’s a bit of a dumpy T-Rex, who needs to maybe climb onto the elliptical now and again. (Maybe it’s potato chips and couches that killed the dinosaurs.) But he’s still master of all he surveys.

Sadly, our dino friends don’t linger long, as whatever narrative there is eschews a chronology of life’s existence on Earth in favor of vignettes on selected aspects of nature’s constant struggle for existence. And bad news for people with phobias, our window to this struggle for existence is bugs. Big bugs, small bugs, nice bugs, terrifying bugs. Bugs.

A lot of space is devoted to that hard-working pollinator, the honeybee. Industrious and fashionable with their bold black and white stripes, bees are the most acceptable members of the insect realm — except to those a sting away from anaphylactic shock. They ensure good crops of fruits and vegetables and in so doing generate their own house brand sweetener — and like a hippie Whole Foods customer, they even bring their own bags!:


Ah, bees. Too bad they’re all dying.

And in that depressing vein, and lest we get too carried away with out admiration, there’s this:


“Yes, kids, life is a futile exercise that accomplishes little until you’re legs up on the ground, spent and dead as that poor diligent bee.”

Though ants don’t produce as much as their fuzzy winged cousins, they too have their share of chutzpah, building colonies, finding food, and clearing debris knocked into their homes by human tormentors. But did you know that they have good old-fashioned race wars and genocides?:


It’s like when A Bug’s Life and Antz were being released at right around the same time, only horrifying. Good Lord.

And if the ant-on-ant crime isn’t enough to haunt your sleep tonight, check out this next sequence, featuring the unfathomably evil Tarantula Hawk. Or don’t, if you ever again want to close your eyes:



And I didn’t even scan the part where the tarantula is buried alive, where the wasp’s eggs hatch out of its paralyzed MY GOD WHY AM I EVEN DESCRIBING THIS.

Thank you, Walt Disney, for reminding us that the world around us is bleak and filled with tiny horrors.


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