Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tales From The Quarter Bin--The Lyingest Cover Of All Time

Sometimes the Quarter Bin can introduce you to heroes you've never heard of:

The Human Fly? OK, you know me, I'm always game to read up on obscure mystery men. Let's turn to the first story, which obviously will star the Human Fly!!

Oh, OK, that's Blue Beetle. That's all right...our Human Fly isn't egotistical, and he can give up the lead-off spot to another hero. Let's turn to the next story, which surely features our cover hero:

OK, it's a little 2-page solve-it-yourself mystery feature. No problem. Human Fly is *obviously* next, right?

Nope, it's private detective Earthquake Jones (great name, BTW) and his sidekick Rusty Ringle.

Time is running out, but surely they've been saving the best for last, and saving our titanic title character for the final story:

Bronze Man?!?

So Human Fly #1 (1958) doesn't actually have so much as even a single mention of anyone named Human Fly?

And, upon closer inspection, it turns out that this issue is pretty much a complete reprint of Fox's Blue Beetle #44 (1946)!!


Well, a closer look at the cover reveals:

Oh, that explains a lot.

I.W. Publications was known for being, well, um, kind of, er...let's just quote the Wikipedia article: "I.W. Publications were notable for publishing unauthorized reprints of other company's properties...Usually these companies were out of business, but not always."

Oh, you bad bad boys.

So Human Fly #1 pretty clearly wins the title of Lyingest Cover Of All Time, for promising a hero who never actually existed to mask the fact that they were involved in a wee bit of intellectual property misappropriation, not to mention selling a reprint comic as new.

Further testament to I.W.'s somewhat fly-by-night practices? Human Fly #1 came out in 1958. The next issue I.W. published was #10 (!!) in 1963!!

And once again, it was completely composed of other people's reprints, this time Blue Beetle #46 (1947). At least the cover was a teensy bit more honest this time...


Siskoid said...

From both covers it's clear the "Human Fly" is actually the Blue Beetle (by any other name...).

Had they been just a little bit less lazy, they might have pasted the words Human Fly over every Blue Beetle in the interior story.

snell said...

If they were less lazy, they would have come up with their own stories in the first place...

Siskoid said...

Obviously. But there must be a sweet spot where you actually put some thought into your copyright infringement scheme.

snell said...

Ask Fawcett about that...

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

There is a publisher in France that was found to have been doing anthologies of US authors (I was one) and not a one was aware of it. It was a California author who saw one anthology in a used bookstore that caught the scam, which involved 26 authors and 4 horror and thriller anthologies.

I have that copy of BB#44 (I own maybe 20 issues, going back to #4), not sure how I fixated on that one character from the GA.

Point is, by putting the Human Fly on the cover, how many kids or adults even noticed. Be nice to know how IW eventually got caught.

snell said...

Wayne, this good article on I.W. and their business practice notes:

Waldman needed to keep off the radar as far the other comics companies were concerned, as well as the then all powerful Comics Code Authority. To do this, he adopted the unusual practice of packaging his comics in batches of three in sealed bags, which put them into the sales category of novelty items rather than periodicals. Novelty items were exempt from the Comics Code, of course.

Evil, but clever.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Thanks, snell. Great article.