The Fly, A Case Study of
The four Fly covers only provide an interesting assortment of Joe’s working method. The cover for issue #1 is not really a swipe. Included in the story art that Jack did for the Fly #1 was a double page splash. The cover is basically parts taken from the splash and rearranged somewhat to fit the narrower proportions of the cover. It is possible to overlay the line art of the Fly from the cover and the splash with good accuracy. That is not to say you get perfect alignment between the two. In the overlay image I provide above I was as careful as possible in adjusting the size and angle of the images. I was able to get good agreement between the two in the area of the Fly’s head and foot. But look closely at his right hand and you will see they deviate slightly. Actually this is to be expected considering the various equipment used. I have often overlaid original art or proofs of line art over the published cover and have never seen one that could be perfectly aligned in all parts. The alignment in this case is especially good so I have little doubt that stats taken of the splash was used to assemble the cover. Since some of the fine spotting lines are present in both the cover and the splash the stat was taken after the splash had been inked. The cover had to be prepared at about the same time as the rest of the comic, so I believe Joe had the stats made of the splash made while assembling the book. Later the printer for Archie did stats of the entire comic in preparation for publication. In this case the small difference in alignment was due to different stat cameras being used.
Even though some of the fine spotting aligns
well, changes were made. For instance some new spotting was added in the
shoulder region. Also the outlines were strengthen, often significantly, is some
areas. This was not simply a retracing of the outline. By shifting the wider ink
lines the form would be exaggerated in some places and subdued in others. There
are two areas where the newly inked lines deviated significantly. One is the
upper line for the right thigh as it approaches the knee. The cover version is
more tapered while the splash has more of a bulge. The other change made was to
the Fly’s goggles which were made more prominent on the cover.
Many have recognized the fact that the swinging Fly on the cover of issue #2 was swiped from the cover of Captain America #7 (October 1941). When I produced the above overlay I found that a good alignment simply could not be done. So I aligned the top of the heads and an approximation of the figures left foot. This provided pretty good alignment for the torso. I will not provide a line by line description of the differences, there just are too many. Cap and the Fly figures are dissimilar both at the small and the large scales. As an example of a large scale note how the Fly’s right leg is further forward then Cap’s. For the other scale compare the figures’ right (as drawn this would also be the lower) outline to the torso. For one thing Cap had an indent to delimit the shoulder that is completely absent of the Fly. Of special interest is the figures’ left thigh. Cap’s has a distinct bulge to the upper part leading into a comparatively thinner region just above the knee. On the other hand the Fly’s thigh is more evenly tapered. This is the same sort of alteration that had been made to the cover of Adventures of the Fly #1, an indication that both may have been done by the same artist. With all the differences between the swipe and the source it is clear to me that the Fly for the cover was not done using a stat or any other mechanical copying device. However in my opinion there are way too many similarities for the Fly #2 to be based on just a remembrance of the Cap #7 cover. No the Fly figure was done by freehand copied from the Cap #7 cover. Joe has since used the pose on a number of occasions, although not as far as I know for a published comic. So once again I attribute this work for this to Joe Simon.
When I previously wrote about the cover for the Adventures of the Fly #3 Scotty Moore left a comment pointing out the similarity to the cover for Black Hood #9. Not only is the pose pretty much the same but both take an almost identical oath. It is hard to believe that the relationship between the two is just a coincidence. Particularly since Black Hood title had been published by the same company as the Fly. Although the pose and concept was swiped I would hardly call the Fly a close copy. Joe once told me he did this cover using himself in a mirror as model. This does sound right because the art does look like Joe’s work.
This is another example where the figure of the Fly was obviously a swipe, in this case from Sandman on the cover of Adventure Comic #88. I provide a side-by-side image of the two figures because overlaying them would just be confusing. It can easily be seen that the Fly is not a close copy of the Sandman. Things like the positions of the limbs, details of the anatomy, and the size of the ear all have been changed. Clearly the Fly was freely drawn with the Sandman source used only as a casual reference. Both were originally shown peering through a window but Sandman had been shown squatting on flat ground while the Fly was on a slanted roof. The change in the nature of the foundation probably had a lot to do with some of the changes made.
The Fly comics swiping is not limited to the covers. The
examples I have chosen from story art both show the Fly clinging to a building
wall just outside of a window. However to place them in the same pose I had to
rotate the one from Fly #4 and then make a mirror image (that is flipping the
image so left becomes right and visa versa). I provide an overlay of the two but
it is impossible to get them to properly align. The side-by-side versions give a
better idea as to what the problem is. The limb and torso proportions
dramatically differ between the two. Even small details such as the angle taken
by the right hand fingers in relation to the legs is not the same.
© 2005-2006 Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center, Inc. All rights reserved. All characters and art presented on these pages are ©, ® or ™ their respective owners. No challenge to any owner's rights is intended or should be inferred. Reprinted with permission.