Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fly Papers!

Ross Andru and Mike Esposito
I doubt any superhero has a more convoluted  publishing history than the Blue Beetle. Beginning in the Golden Age with the notoriously erratic Fox publishing group he slipped over to Holyoke and  back before falling at the end of the Golden Age along with most other superheroes. In the middle 50's Charlton picked up the rights and published four issues of Blue Beetle before the character lapsed again.

Carl Burgos
Then in 1958 the exceedingly erratic I.W. Publishing put out The Human Fly featuring the adventures of The Blue Beetle and sporting a new cover by Carl Burgos. It was a one-off issue until the group then published the tenth issue in 1963 (no issues appeared in between the first and the tenth).

That tenth issue is a real winner, at least in terms of cover art which features a really intriguing image by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito who were at the time supplying some very sleek modern artwork to disguise the rather generally humdrum interiors the I.W. Publishing company was foisting off on the reading public. I really like how Andru and Esposito present Beetle's armored suit, it works quite well on that cover.

But why the lapse?

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon
Maybe because Archie Comics came out with The Fly by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1959 which ran until 1964. But that really doesn't solve anything.

Whatever the case there never was another issue of any comic called "The Human Fly" until 1977 when Marvel Comics began a run of books celebrating a real-life character named Rick Rojat, who dubbed himself The Human Fly. It was not a half-bad comic for fans of Lee Elias who gave the book a real vigorous art sense.

Of course Blue Beetle stayed with Charlton for several more years in a few different guises before venturing to AC Comics in the early 80's and then to DC Comics for where he has more or less thrived post-Crisis since. That's six U.S. based companies (Fox, Holyoke, Charlton, I.W.Publishing, AC, and DC) I can think of which have published him in comic form. Is there a hero with more different company logos on the cover?

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