Featured Cover, Adventures of the Fly #1

Adventures of the Fly #1
Adventures of the Fly #1 (April 1954) by Jack Kirby

One of my contestents in my recent contest picked The Adventures of the Fly #1 as their favorite Simon and Kirby cover. I have previously written about Adventures of the Fly in Chapter 10 of The End of Simon and Kirby. There my main conclusion was that the Fly comics were not true Simon and Kirby productions. Joe seemed the main driving force in constructing these comics and he made use of other artists besides Jack. Having said this I hasten to add that Jack seemed to be primarily responsible for the final appearance of the Fly. The costume is very different from the Silver Spider by C. C. Beck whose story was the basis for the creation of the Fly. Rather the Fly seems largely based on Night Fighter, an unused creation that was probably originally considered for S&K’s publishing company Mainline. Although the origin story for the Fly was largely based on Beck’s penciled version that Joe provided Jack, the other stories Jack did seem to be his own. Included in one was a double page splash. The original art for this wide splash is still in Joe’s personal collection. It a beautiful piece of work with no signs of any cut and paste. That being the case along with the fact that the splash has one extra figure, the cover must somehow be based on the splash.

Joe Simon and Fly splash
Photo of Joe Simon with splash page at Big Apple Con (4/3/04)

As far as I know the original art for the cover no longer exists. This is unfortunate because it might provide hints what method was used to transfer the art from the splash and rearrange it for the cover. As pointed out by Kirby scholar Stan Taylor the Fly comics contain a number of swipes from figures originally drawn by Kirby. Some of the original art for these still exist and clearly they were not done by using stats or any similar photocopying device. However when the line art for the Fly on the cover is compared to the splash page much of the inking, including some rather fine spotting, is the same. There does not appear to be any inking present on the splash that is absent on the cover. On the other hand the cover Fly has some spotting that does not appear on the splash. In particular the outlines have been made thicker on the cover. A lot of the lines for the web and the background do not actually touch the figure. I present a close-up of the cover line art (red) over the splash. The alignment and size adjustment are not perfect but it should give you the idea. From all this I have little doubt that Jack did the splash page, it was inked (not by Kirby), then Joe had some stats made, assembled the cover, and finally retouched and expanded the inking. Joe had previously used stats to help create covers, but for the Fly #1 cover it was a much more intricate procedure.

Adventures of the Fly #1
Part of the splash overlaid with the cover line art (in red)

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