Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Fly - A Simon & Kirby Gredown Classic!

This was a very pleasant surprise. Last week I wandered into the finest comic book store in Adelaide to find the owners gloating over a box of goodies that they'd just bought. A quick look showed me that there were things in that box that I needed and wanted, so I did a deal and bought the bulk of the contents (doubles included, not that there were many doubles). I was damn happy to get two more of the elusive Newtons that I need to complete my collection, a pile of Charlton reprints (the entire box was Australian comics - something that the previous owner of that shop would have ignored. Luckily the guys who now own it are more than aware that collectors like me exist, guys who buy Aussie comics!) and more, including this gem of a comic - The Fly!

The cover to this comic doesn't match up with any of the original American series, The Adventures Of The Fly (published by Archie, of all people, in 1959). The Fly was notable for being one of, if not the, last hurrah for the famed team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. From here Kirby would return to Timely Comics, renamed Marvel, he would have a strong hand in the formation of the Marvel Universe by co-creating such characters as The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The X-Men and many others too numerous to mention, thus establishing himself as one of the true legends of the comic book industry. Simon went to work for various other publishers but never quite hit the heights that his former collaborator did.


THE FLY #1

Date: circa 1978

Contents:
The Strange New World Of The Fly by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (The Adventures Of The Fly #1)
The Fly Strikes by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (The Adventures Of The Fly #1)
The Fly Discovers Hi Buzz Gun by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (The Adventures Of The Fly #1)
Come Into My Parlor by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (The Adventures Of The Fly #1)
Magic Eye by Joe Simon & George Tuska (The Adventures Of The Fly #1)
Tim O'Casey's Wrecking Crew by Joe Simon, Dick Ayers & Paul Reinman (The Adventures Of The Fly #2)
One Of Our Skyscrapers Is Missing by Joe Simon, Al Williamson & Angelo Torres (The Adventures Of The Fly #2)
Marco's Eyes by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (The Adventures Of The Fly #2)
The Master Of Junk-Ri-La! by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (The Adventures Of The Fly #2)
The Overblown Marshall Of Spire City by Joe Simon & Jack Davis (The Adventures Of The Fly #3)
The Justice Of Chen Fang by Joe Simon & Paul Reinman (The Adventures Of The Fly #3)
Duped By The Dazzler by Joe Simon. Ted Galindo & Chic Stone (The Adventures Of The Fly #4)

I can't help but suspect that these credits might be wrong as I can clearly see a lot of Jack Kirby in these stories, especially with the 'Magic Eye' and portions of 'Tim O'Casey's Wrecking Crew' stories.

I've dated the book purely on a copyright notice on the bottom of the first page (which also happens to be the inside front cover. The notice reads: "All stories appearing in this publication are Copyright 1977/78 by Radio Comics, Inc. All rights reserved." As there's no ads I can only assume that this book came out in either late 1977 or early 1978. I'm betting on the latter, and the $0.50 cover price does back the theory up all the more.

The book, as mentioned, sports an all new cover with a great, almost 3-D effect showing depth and contrast. I can only assume that this cover was created especially for the Australian market by an Australian artist, much the same as previous comics by the publisher in question, Gredown (look no further than the entries I've done on Hell Rider or House Of Yang for other examples of Australian created covers). Still as covers go it's an interesting one and fits right in with what Gredown were creating at the time. Hopefully we'll discover who did these covers one day, however thanks to Kevin Patrick, we do know that the 'Art Director for Gredown Pty Ltd during the mid-late 1970s was a renowned Australian comic artist and commercial illustrator, Phil Belbin' (taken from a comment Kevin left on the Hell Rider entry). This cover doesn't look like other works that have been attributed to Belbin though, still anything is possible.

When you crack the book you notice a serious art alteration. Such alterations were the norm when it came to these type of Australian reprints - they had a lot of space to fill and more often than not more stories than they could cram into the books. The most obvious(and do excuse the crappy scan here) is the splash page. What took up one page in the original comic book has been enlarged, cropped and converted to a double page spread.

The colour scan here is the original splash page (from my own beat-to-death issue # of The Fly) and the black and white scan is the Australian version. Note the copyright notice at the bottom of the splash which helps date the issue.

I have heard that there's other more serious edits in the stories, however my collection of the original series starts at issue #1 and then jumps to issue #23 so I'm of no help when it comes to spotting the finer details for the subsequent stories. I can say that the stories from the first issue don't appear to have been tampered with all that much (if at all) from my view, but as always, I could be wrong. If anyone can state for sure then feel free to say so and I'll even scan the panels/pages mentioned.

All in all this is a great comic to have, if only for the penultimate Simon & Kirby stories (they did team up one last time for one issue of DC's 1970s Sandman series) before they went their separate ways to different companies and various degrees of fame and fortune. It's value? Whatever you want to pay for it. I like the Gredown material a lot, they did some great horror titles and they almost always managed to reprint some of the more obscure material out there. I'd like to think that in a lot of cases, these Gredown titles are some of the last places where you can find certain stories. In the meantime enjoy The Fly, add it to your wants lists and I'll be throwing some more non-horror Gredowns up as time permits.

2 comments:

--steve cohen said...

Hi Danny,
Thanks for this blog entry!!!
What a beautiful cover, looks like some kind of a "wash", or maybe even parts were accomplished with the used of heavy colored pencils.
I always enjoy seeing how US comic books look when reprinted with new covers in other countries.

Anonymous said...

Danny,

That IS a great Fly cover and unusual in that the Fly is not on the cover. I'm also pretty sure that this is a new cover done especially for this edition. I'd have to take a good look, but Kirby probably did have a hand in some of the stories you mentioned.

Nick Caputo