Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Unseen Fly: The Justice Of Chen Fang

This one is a true gem, or a classic example of racism in comic books, it all depends upon your point of view.  While the bulk of the Joe Simon and Jack Kirby Adventures Of The Fly series has been reprinted, both in Blue Ribbon Comics from Archie and then again in The Best Of Simon And Kirby that Titan Books published in 2009, but this strip has never been reprinted in the USA as far as I can establish.  However it was reprinted in Australia in the late 1970s by Gredown in their reprint comic The Fly, which also reprinted a number of Simon and Kirby Fly stories and featuring a brilliant Australian only painted cover.


The Justice Of Chen Fang was written by Joe Simon and drawn by Paul Reinman and appeared in The Adventures Of The Fly #3, published in November 1959, by Archie Comics.  The story is basic late 1950s fare, villain kidnaps a girl, the Fly rescues the girl, punches out the villain, everyone lives happily ever after.  If only it was that simple.

The story appears to be a reaction towards China and, in true Cold War fashion, the Asians are exaggerated to the point of caricature and parody that even Jerry Lewis would have cringed at.  Sadly even journeyman artist Paul Reinman couldn't save the story, and when faced with fare such as this it's no surprise that Jack Kirby decided that life was easier and better and once he jumped ship (after the second issue, he soon settled at Marvel Comics where he had some control over what he drew.  Joe Simon would only last for one more issue and also left the series that he co-created with Kirby after issue #4.  So revel in the story that clearly even Joe Simon felt was just a bit too offensive to be reprinted in the USA.

UPDATE:  Joe Simon, via Harry Mendryk, has formally requested that I remove the content regarding the Justice Of Chen Fang from my blog as he, Joe Simon, owns the copyright to the story.  This is despite the fact that Archie, the original copyright holders, sold the story to Gredown here in Australia in the mid 1970s.  As I just wtrote to Harry, and I quote, I believe the real reason Joe wanted the story removed is because he, "...is so embarrassed about his racist story that he never wants it to see print again.  Such a shame as these things help everyone understand the complete history of artists and writers, not just the sanitised versions of events that they want people to believe."

It's a shame that Joe won't allow this story to ever be reprinted, but take it up with Joe and ask him the real reasons why, not me.

3 comments:

Smurfswacker said...

It's depressing how long Asian stereotypes continued in American comics. "Orientals" remained fair game long after rubber-lipped African American stereotypes had disappeared.

This strip pales in comparison to Wonder Woman's notorious Egg Fu (#158), who appeared in 1965 and merited a cover feature and a sequel.

Mikeyboy said...

I dunno...there is something to be said about enduring ethnic stereo types in the comics.
Especially in the 40's through 60's...the Evil villain had to be portrayed in an easily distinguishable guise. My favorite CAP 70's villain is the Yellow Claw...what does his name...YELLOW imply? These things are the norm in my opinion. Comic books should not need to change because they offended someone...it's freedom of the press and expression and it's also usually considered satirical parody.
This FLY story ROCKS!
Funny too..the capatcha below reads CICADA

sewa elf said...

Very nice, thanks for sharing.