Wednesday 26 June 2013

My Name's Not Peter Parker!

Welcome to part 11 of

In which after The Human Fly finally secures himself onto of a flying jumbo jet in the rain, the passengers inside somehow hear a noise outside and come to the conclusion there must be someone up there, which is lent some credence by Spider mans spider sense in this next recreated page:-

If you was with me last week I shared the third part of "The Rocketman" aka Ky Michaelson's story of his experience building a rocket powered motorbike for the Human Fly , a story which appears in full on his own website

Last time, Ky not only discovered that The Human Fly didn't appear to practice his stunts, but also that the people building the ramps didn't appear to know what they was doing - there appears to be only one way this can end, right?

Over to Ky…

"We watched the entertainment, but there was no sign of the Human Fly anywhere. As intermission approached, we were all really apprehensive, and to be honest with you, I truly couldn't believe my eyes when Rick and his entourage entered the arena. I had secretly been hoping he'd maybe gotten up that morning, looked in the mirror and asked himself, "Do I really want to die? Is this really a good idea? Do I really want to break Evel's record this badly?"

That was not to be, though, and as the promoter announced the stunt, and he took center stage in full costume, the crowd went absolutely wild. I stood in awe as he hopped on the motorcycle, waved to the crowd, looked over at me, gave the thumbs up, turned on the safety switch, and slowly opened the throttle.

The rocket bike started up the ramp slowly at first, and then the Human Fly pinned the throttle wide open. The cloud of smoke was a sight to behold in the nearly pitch dark arena. The super-heated steam shot out the back as the bike climbed up the ramp and instead of launching forward into the air, went much higher than it should have, and nearly straight up. 

Because of the wrong angle, it stalled when he let off the throttle, and the rear end dropped, nearly arching the bike completely backwards as it hit the receiving ramp hard, before then crashing down on him."

Will the Human Fly survive and what happened next??! Ky's tale will conclude next week… 

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!:-

"In 1985, Mantlo took advantage of a tuition reimbursement program Marvel offered and put himself through law school, writing scripts by day and taking classes by night. In 1987, he passed the New York State Bar and while he still wrote the occasional comic book, as well as starting various novels and screenplays, he considered himself a full-time lawyer. He received a number of offers to work for real estate legal firms but he opted to work for the Legal Aid Society, a private not-for-profit that provides free criminal defense representation.

Mantlo made about $40,000 a year at Legal Aid, which was  considerably less than he was making at Marvel. But that was  almost the point: he became a lawyer mainly because he felt he had done all he could with comics to send messages about social causes. In law, he could help people more directly.

In court, Bill lived up to his reputation as the Boisterous One, earning numerous warnings from the bench for his fiery brand of delivery, especially while cross-examining police officers. As one justice recalled, Mantlo was the nicest person he ever had to hold in contempt of court. Once, Bill was arrested as part of a sweep against a sit-in by a local school union he was representing. He used his phone call not to arrange for bail, but to order pizza for himself and everybody else in the holding cell."

NEXT WEEK: Did The Human Fly Survive?  And more Tragic Tale!

Thursday 20 June 2013

If We Give Up We're Nothing!

Welcome to part 10 of

In which Ted Locke "The Handless Engineer" finds he is far from the only victim as The Human Fly shows Ted his own scars and asks for Ted's help via a stirring speech whilst in the shadow in this next recreated page:-
If you was with me last week I shared the second part of "The Rocketman" aka Ky Michaelson's story of his experience building a rocket powered motorbike for the Human Fly , a story which appears in full on his own website

Where Ky found out a large Life Insurance Policy had been issued for the Human Fly (who Ky names as Rick Rojatt), but nonetheless built the ordered rocket powered motorbike - a modified Harley Davidson XL-1000 boasting 6,000 HP!

Let Ky continue…

"I let Rick know the bike was ready, so we delivered it to Montreal. We all met up the day before the big event, delivered all the equipment, and met with the promoters to discuss the plans.

They had hired contractors to put the jump equipment together for us, which I wasn't real happy about, but finally agreed to. We went over the stunt as thoroughly as possible, and much to my amazement, Rick didn't want to do any practice runs at all. He just sat on the bike, admiring it, determined to just wait until the time came. I gave him step-by-step detailed instructions on how to operate the rockets, and he just took it all in, nodding as I went along. I knew he understood what I was saying, but I hardly slept that night because I was always so safety conscious, and typically rehearsed stunts many a time before actually performing them.

I was uneasy with this particular situation."

No practice runs flys completely in the face of both The Human Flys own CBC interview as shown earlier as well as the professional stunt persons typical approach, there would have been plenty of practice, building up to the biggest jump bit by bit…

"Jim Deist, Dar Robinson, and I arrived at the arena bright and early. Much to our surprise, we could clearly see that the blueprints for both the jump and receiving ramps were obviously not adhered to, as there were major flaws in both of them. The jump ramp was much too steep, which would cause the rocket bike to come off it at the wrong angle and stall. I was even more concerned about the receiving ramp, though, as the last ten buses were supposed to be covered by plywood extending to the ramp. What we found instead was a plywood ramp that was about six feet above the buses, with exposed steel cross members. I told the promoters that their contractors, or whoever it was that built these things, obviously didn't follow the blueprints we'd provided, and I was not going to fuel up the rocket bike until major changes were made to the receiving ramp. I won't go into a lot of detail here, but it did turn into a major ordeal by the time we did our last safety inspection, which forced the Showtime to change quite a bit."

The ramp was also completely flawed, so it appears it is not just The Human Fly who may have been unprofessional, but also his arrangers…

Next week The Human Fly attempts the rocket powered jump, how bad will it get?!

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!:-

"Where Shooter noticed this most was the ease and frequency with which Mantlo created new characters. Until Shooter got Marvel to implement a policy that gave writers a small percentage of any licensing for characters they created, any new intellectual property belonged to Marvel. While Shooter was working on that incentive, he told his writers to not create any new characters, to ensure they got a piece of whatever they would be worth. There was substantial money to be had once the incentive program was in place—$30,000 checks for the action figure rights on a single character were not unheard of. This is why Shooter had wanted the writers to hold off for a bit.

“Not Bill. Are you kidding? He was making characters like they were going out of style. He was irrepressible. He was a font of ideas. There was no limit to his creativity,” Shooter recalls. “I appreciated it on behalf of Marvel, but I felt bad for Bill that he had created these things that if he had waited a little while, he would have owned a piece of them. You know what his attitude was? ‘I’ll make more.’ I really admired that.”

By the mid-1980s, however, Mantlo’s writing assignments were dwindling. The days of lax deadline management were long gone, and most writers were doing their own fill-ins. Plus, Mantlo had locked horns enough with Shooter and Marvel top brass (including Stan Lee) that new editors were not particularly willing to work with him. Mantlo did not help matters with a failed attempt to unionize his fellow Marvel writers. He spoke his mind with such freedom and bluntness that he earned the nickname “Boisterous” Bill Mantlo, or merely, “The Boisterous One.”

NEXT WEEK: How do you land a rocket powered bike and more Tragic Tale

Wednesday 12 June 2013

If I Fail Now The Fly Dies!

Welcome to part 9 of

Where we get the key to Ted Locke's double amputation courtesy of a flash back where in the Vietnam war Ted is planning to blow up a bridge when a innocent mother and child enter into the area - without any hesitation Ted runs into the fray and looses his hands as a consequence in this next recreated page…

If you was with me last week I shared the first part of "The Rocketman" aka Ky Michaelson's story of his experience building a rocket powered motorbike for the Human Fly , a story which appears in full on his own website

As well as linking the Human Fly to Rick Rojatt, Last time Ky himself was expressing concern for the stunt going as far to say "it wasn't that there wouldn't be a crash, for I was certain there would be. It was just a matter of how bad it would be…"

With that established we continue with Ky's story:-

"The guy was determined, and since my business at the time was working with stunt people, daredevils, and people with death wishes, I remained intrigued and as optimistic as possible, praying I wouldn't fall witness to the hand of death "swatting" the Human Fly. I became even more concerned when I received a phone call from an insurance broker, Bruce McCaw, who called to thank me as he told me I was responsible for throwing a lot of business his way. When I asked him what he meant by that, he told me he'd just issued a life insurance policy on the Human Fly, and that Lee Taylor had been a client of his, as well. That really got me thinking.

As we prepared for this stunt, it soon became obvious that one of the biggest challenges we faced was the space constraint in the arena; there was no room to accelerate to the speed required, so I came up with a plan. I'd build a rocket-powered motorcycle that would sit right at the bottom of the ramp instead of making the usual fast and furious approach. All the Fly would have to do was get on, wave to the crowd, press the button, say a quick prayer, and hang on for dear life!!

Rick liked the idea, and agreed to try it, so he sent me a brand new 1977 Harley Davidson XL-1000 Sportster, a true black beauty, to build from. I put exactly three miles on it, and then the fun began. I yanked out the engine and built two 1,500-lb. thrust hydrogen peroxide rockets, which I mounted one on top of the other, directly underneath the fuel tank. Other than the two polished stainless steel rocket motors hanging off the back of the bike, I left everything else intact, including the headlight and taillight, to make it look completely stock. By the time I finished, this refined machine boasted 6,000 HP. In other words, if a guy were to take this thing out to the local drag strip, hold the throttle wide open, and hang on hoping the tires didn't fall right off? He'd be capable of going well over 300 mph in the ¼ mile."

The finished bike looked like this:-
Next week we will hear from Ky how The Human Fly felt that practice made perfect…

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!:-

"There were other problems, too. Because he was writing so fast, and under tight deadlines, Mantlo was known to rehash stories that had already run in earlier issues, or crib an idea too closely from another source while searching for a storyline to develop. Mantlo was hardly the only Marvel writer to do this, but he was one of the few who caused some problems along the way. In one case, while scripting an issue of the Incredible Hulk, Mantlo borrowed from an Outer Limits episode written by Harlan Ellison. Ellison called Shooter to complain, and settled things for a standard writer’s payment for the issue, an acknowledgement in a later issue’s letters page, and a lifetime subscription to all Marvel comics.

In another case—and one that remains a point of debate within comic book fan circles—Mantlo was accused of plagiarizing an unfinished story treatment written by artist Barry Windsor-Smith, again for the Incredible Hulk. Shooter’s version of the story is that Windsor-Smith had brought to the Marvel office an unfinished treatment for a story explaining the origin of Bruce Banner, the Hulk’s mild-mannered, but easily enraged, alter ego. Shooter wanted to buy the story on the spot, but Windsor-Smith insisted on finishing it first, and he left rough drafts behind. Mantlo, while visiting the Marvel office, found Windsor-Smith’s work, figured it was open for use, and wrote a story off of it. The Incredible Hulk itself was between editors, and the story’s lineage was not noticed until the issue was in print. The story remains one of Mantlo’s most popular, and it was developed as a core element of the script for the 2003 film adaptation of the Hulk. Windsor-Smith never stopped holding a grudge over it.

“He did a tremendous amount of good work for us,” Shooter says, stressing that Mantlo’s good far outweighed his bad. “The nice thing about Bill was that other writers could be picky fanboys, but Bill would do anything. Book about a stuntman? Sure. Book on a toy? Sure. And he gave it a good effort, no matter what it was. He could do any job and he was always polite, always nice. You couldn’t help but like him.”

Next week: Preparation for the Rocket bike stunt and more Tragic Tale!

Thursday 6 June 2013

You've Given Up Before You Even Got Started!

Welcome to part 8 of

Where in the continuing attempt to reproduce Issue 1 of The Human Fly comic, we find Blaze is given both inspiration and motivation by the Human Fly himself...

With Blaze's real injury being one to her confidence and self belief in this fantastic page originally drawn by Lee Elias:-

If you was with me last week, I confirmed that the second real life stunt that can be proven that the Human Fly performed (which also went on to appear in The Human Fly comic) was a Rocket powered motorcycle jump over 26 buses

Quite a bit of this proof comes from the designer and engineer who built the rocket powered bike The Human Fly used "The Rocketman" aka Ky Michaelson on his own website

You can read the whole story there all in one go But here is part 1 of Ky's Human Fly story:-

"In 1977, I was contracted to build a rocket-powered motorcycle capable of jumping over 27 buses. The jump was to take place in the Montreal Olympic Stadium, as a half-time show for a concert featuring Gloria Gaynor and a number of other disco stars of the 70's. The daredevil rider was Rick Rojatt, otherwise known as the Human Fly. At the time, Evil Kneivel held the record jump of 13 buses, and Rick wanted to beat it badly. Rick's claim to fame at that point in his career was an astonishing stunt he'd performed over the Mojave Desert where he'd wing-walked on a DC-8 and actually made two low flying passes at 250 mph, a nearly impossible feat, and truly death-defying. The other very unique thing about this off-the-wall daredevil was that he was never seen out of costume, and kept his true identity a secret by wearing a red mask and a white cape, identical to the comic book action hero."

So Ky is the second person to link The Human Fly to Rick Rojatt - there is nothing here to say how Ky knew the Human Fly was Rick or anything similar, but then neither is there anything to say he was not (unlike Jim Shooter in earlier postings about The Human Fly) so at least there is a possibility that The Human Fly and Rick Rojatt was one and the same

"From the moment I met this guy, I was convinced he was an accident looking for a place to happen, especially when he told me he wanted to attempt 36 buses. I managed to convince him otherwise when we discussed the fact that in order to do something that remarkable, he'd have to hit the jump ramp at well over 100 mph, and continue to burn the rocket a couple more seconds after take off. I explained that it was definitely possible, but the fact remained that acceleration of that magnitude in such a small area would launch him head-first through the concrete pillar at the opposite end of the arena. That conversation resulted in his finally accepting the challenge for 27 instead. He'd still have to travel at 80 mph, and it wasn't that there wouldn't be a crash, for I was certain there would be. It was just a matter of how bad it would be by the time he reached our nets and a huge airbag we'd have set up. 
I knew the decrease in speed and thrust would make a huge difference, and I felt we could pull this one off with minimal damage to the bike or to Rick (hopefully)."

If you remember I have already noticed how The Human Fly appeared to pushing the line in-between doing a fantastic stunts and just sheer recklessness, this on the basis of his wing walking stunt having to go through 3 attempts, 2 fails in rain at high speed and with the Human Fly being unconscious at the end of the first 2 attempts - I also noted how there was a specific statement about how carefully planned and designed The stunts the Human Fly was undertaking from The Human Fly himself in his CBC TV Interview

and here we have a professional who clearly is already wondering what is going to go wrong and how badly…

Next week amongst other things we will be treated to the Rocket Bikes rather unique specifications!

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!:-

"Rough Drafts

But Bill’s writing was not perfect, and nobody knew that better than Jim Shooter, Marvel’s editor-in-chief and the guy who worked most directly on overseeing Mantlo’s work. Shooter became a comic industry legend in his own right during his nearly 12-year stint with Marvel, from 1975 to 1987. More than any editor before him, Shooter worked to make every Marvel title inhabit the same overall setting, creating a universe of thematically linked titles in which characters and storylines could easily cross over from title to title. Fans often refer to Marvel comics produced under Shooter’s watch simply as the Shooter era. More than a few of them contend that the Shooter era is the high point of all Marvel publishing.

Shooter notes that back when he was first editing comics—and Mantlo was just beginning to write them—publishers paid writers by the page, and it was a pittance, at that. The job was so pathetic, Shooter recalls, that one only did it because they truly loved the medium or they had no other choice. Those who could make a living at it had to be very fast at what they did. And Mantlo was fast. But his work often required a great deal of editing, if not full rewriting.

“I think it amused him that I was staying up all night fixing his stuff and making him look better while he’s staying up all night cranking stuff out and making more money,” Shooter says. He kept a file that consisted of entirely rewritten Mantlo script pages. If a single word of Mantlo’s remained on the page, it did not make the file. At the end of a single year, Shooter recalls, he would have a ream of paper in the file."

Next week: The Motorbike that can fly and more Tragic Tale!