Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The End is just Beginning to Start

Welcome to part 19, the final part of

Last week I left you with a few questions:- Whatever Happened to the Human Fly comic,  to the Stunt competition, to the Human Fly for real and to the comic book character?

Is there a better such of information /answers to all these questions? (including those asked last week)

Okay, let's start with the comic and the stunt competition

In issue 19 of The Human Fly a letter from Matt Kaufman appears which amongst other things asks the following question:-

"By the way, how are the sales on the HUMAN FLY? Hopefully, good - the book's still monthly. I'm interested in seeing how well an action adventure comic with only occasional violence sells"

To which the editorial reply is:-

"Like you said, Matthew, the fact the fly's well on his way into his second year as a comic book character must say something about his success in the medium.  We're hoping the next year will be as encouraging as the first - especially in character developments and plot twists, while we attempt to add an element of drama that Bill (Mantlo) has said felt the book was lacking."

But then in that self same issue of the Human Fly comic issue 19 on the last page, last panel….


This is the final issue of the HUMAN FLY-- the wildest hero ever!  Much to all of our regret, ending the FLY here also means that the HUMAN FLY STUNT CONTEST ends as well, but we thought it would be nice to mention the five winners whose creative stunt ideas might have appeared in these pages.  All have received an autographed page of original HUMAN FLY artwork.

Thanks for coming along for the wildest ride in years.  It's been fun!"

Now lets check through the facts we have so far.  The stunt contest itself was announced in issue 15 only a few issues before cancellation

Also in issue 15 there was talk of story or plot ideas being exchanged for future issues which never saw print

The letter in the letters page of issue 19, and its answer would not have been that far in advance of issue 19, and it looks like that last panel was redrawn slightly to have its typed message inserted at probably the last minute

All of this suggests that cancellation of the comic was not only very sudden, but probably not due to low sales.

The leads to speculation as to what actually happened here

To my mind at least the wording of the letter is interesting for what it does mention and what it does not - obviously it does not give any reason for cancelation, but what it does do is call the Human Fly "the wildest hero ever" and repeats this by referring to "the wildest ride in years"

Just to remind you all, the banner at the top on the cover of every issue of The Human Fly Comic was "The wildest super-hero ever-- because he's real!"

Both the "super" and "because he's real" are missing from a letter that goes out of its way to mention "wildest" as the only point of any information at all, does that mean that Marvel finally found out The Human fly's true colours?

But to be fair that is just open speculation on my part, but it is a close as I think we can get - at least right now…

So what ever happened to the Human Fly comic book character?

Well, At San Diego comic con this year the first issue of The New Adventures of The Human Fly was debuted

This is a annual anthology title with different contributors taking their own unique and interesting look into the Human Fly comic book character published by Cartoon Flophouse

You can check it out more about this at

if you would like a copy just email Micheal Ashenkar at, he will take paypal

This new comic is both fun and interesting, but is firmly in the land of fantasy, there is no mention of anything The real life Human Fly did

Also, the comic is published by a new company Human Fly International inc. this is Canadian company and as you would expect has a filing on the internet

This is the same company and people directly behind The Human Fly Movie

yes, movie..

which has a web site here

where you can see The Mojave wing walk in full

plus a 5 minute feature "the story behind the movie", which follows below

And this movie, would appear to be the best place to answer whatever happened to the Human Fly for real and who was behind him - not forgetting of course hopefully being better source of information /answers to all the questions about The Human Fly (including those asked last week)

So it appears after all, that The Human Fly comic character at least has finally become the Phoenix after being in ashes for some 40 years

And the real life Human fly, well - just watch the video and draw your own conclusions

What happens from this point onwards is another story altogether, for now this is the end of my journey into The Human Fly

This journey into The Human Fly is dedicated with much respect to both Bill and Micheal Mantlo, both are true heroes 

NEXT WEEK: VOTE! You chose what will appear in this blog next

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

We've Done A Good Day's Work!

Welcome to part 18 of

Where The Human Fly is triumphant and is mobbed by a crowd in a baseball pitch in this the final recreated page from issue 1 of The Human Fly Comic:-

Last week I promised I would try and answer the big burning questions about The Human Fly that have been accumulating as this blog has progressed through what is known of the real-life character of the same name, as I hope it is fairly clear most of the answers can only at best be semi educated guesses as the details / proof necessary in most cases is not known…

Was The Human Fly Real?
Yes there really was a person who wore the same costume as seen in the comic, the corner box of each  comic issue, and in the trademark filing for Human Fly Spectaculars Ltd and called himself The Human Fly

Did the real life Human Fly really do stunts?
Yes, at least 3 attempts at a wing walk (one successful) and one successful rocket powered motorcycle jump can be proven to have occurred

Was The Human Fly really Rick Rojatt?
The comic character is Rick Rojatt even though that was never revealed within the pages of the comic itself, as for the real life Human Fly, my best guess is that "Rick Rojatt" is possibly an alias the Human Fly used

Was the real life Human Fly really in a car accident?
It seems unlikely that The Human Fly was really in a car accident of the extent that is shown or has been described, certainly not to the extent of injuries shown or described - see next question…

Did the real life Human Fly really have a skeleton of steel?
Again its very unlikely, possibly some limbs or a portion of bone could have been replaced, but it is unlikely it would have actually been steel that was used.  It is medically rather difficult to replace the entire or even parts of the skeleton, there's the issue of no bone marrow (meaning no red or white blood cells being produced) and the question of how do you graft working muscles onto whatever you replace the bone with and have them still working. Also the Human Fly did not appear to walk with any kind of obvious gait / limp - in other words there was nothing obvious to suggest he had been that seriously injured in the first place - just look at the real life racing driver Nicki lauda for a comparison

Did the real life human fly do "good deeds"?
Yes there is is video of The Human Fly visiting kids at a hospital

Was the real life human fly a professional stunt man?
All the evidence suggests he was not, at best he appears to be an enthusiastic amateur. He did not appear to prepare for or practice his stunts adequately and did not seem to be aware of the difference between a risk and outright danger that not preparing /practising can cause

Why did The Human Fly (and or his PR people) say he failed the motorcycle jump at Montreal when he succeeded?
There seems to be no obvious reason for this, but see the next question…

Why did The Human Fly (and or his PR people) blame mechanical failure of the rocket powered motorcycle as the cause of the Montreal accident when it appears to have been bad judgement on the part of The Human Fly?
It is clearly stated that a large insurance policy was taken out against The Human fly just prior to Montreal and this does appear to be at the very least a rather large coincidence…

Was The Human Fly prone to exaggeration?
Although it is fair to allow some leeway in the name of "showmanship" (like you would with a ringmaster in a circus) most of what The Human Fly is recorded as having said does not bare that close scrutiny, a lot of what he said he was going to do, he never did not even in the context of a recorded attempt

How did the press treat The Human Fly?
By all accounts rather cynically and with derisiveness

Was it a mistake to make a comic based on a real-life character?
Actually I think the mistake was the other way around, in taking a real life person and expecting them to become an ideal, when in reality they are just a human person and prone to weaknesses, failures, mistakes and any number of things which would only muddy the waters in terms of them being the physical representation of an ideal.  As an example I can't think that Captain America could ever be actually real, I can certainly imagine a person being as passionately patriotic as Captain America is but within the confines of being a person, not an infallible ideal

Does this mean the comic should have been more "real-to life"?
No, because it is the comic and in particular the heart that Bill Mantlo put into it which is what everyone really remembers and celebrates more than the real life Human Fly - a comic based on what actually happened would have never achieved this

So just to provide a bit more on this, as to my mind this is one of the focal points of my journey through The Human Fly - The idea and the ideal of what The Human Fly could be or what he could represent is something Bill Mantlo strongly believed in, Bill Mantlo believes in the traditional heroic myth and making inspiration by example, in short Bill knew exactly what a mythical hero should do and be, someone for kids to look up to and be inspired by and a hero is exactly what Bill Mantlo is, not just for the comic but for the way he lives he life both in the past and in the here and now

Finally here are some more questions -

Whatever Happened to the Human Fly comic,  to the Stunt competition, to the Human Fly for real and to the comic book character?

Is there a better such of information /answers to all these questions?

All of these and more in NEXT WEEKs final concluding part of my journey into The Human Fly

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Nothing can save you!

Welcome to part 17 of

With The Human Fly hanging on for dear life in mid air onto The Mercenary, luckily enough spider-man is around with his web parachute in this next recreated page:-

The Human Fly Visits The Marvel Bullpen!
The following "Marvel Special Feature" was printed inside the 15th issue of The Human Fly comic, The scans are the best I could do, but all of the photos are incredibly hard to see… as is some of the text, so I will type the text again above each frame of this feature

The "commentary" (or text) is by Bill Mantlo, Photos by D. Jon Zimmerman

"Imagine our surprise one sunny day earlier this year when one of Marvel's very own super sensations presented himself (along with his new sidekick, MERCURY) in the Crimson-costumed flesh at the Reception Room of the Marvel Bullpen itself! STAN (THE MAN) was the first to extend a warm, if somewhat awed welcome to the HUMAN FLY!"

Yes that's Stan Lee, of course!  as for Mercury being a "new" sidekick, we saw him in the video footage of the wing walk over the Mojave Desert, where he is described as the Human fly's "long term friend"

"Then AMIABLE ARCHIE (Star Wars) GOODWIN put in an appearance with a few of the pulse-pounding HUMAN FLY covers he'd helped to design as former Editor-in-Chief"

The caption provided for Archie has some fun at the expense of Mercury…

"While shutterbug DWIGHT ZIMMERMAN snapped away, the FLY autographed pages to be offered as prizes in the HUMAN FLY STUNT CONTEST! (See Below) Then he and MERCURY stopped in to say 'Hi!" to JAZZY JOHN ROMITA,  Marvel's Art Director and SPIDER-MAN artist supreme!"

(The Virginia in question is Virginia Romita, John Romita SRs wife and mother of John Romita Jr)

"Next to greet Marvel's own Dynamic Duo was JIM (TROUBLE) SHOOTER, hardworking Editor-in-Chief!  The FLY introduced MERCURY, and plans were immediately hatched to work Merc into the Fly's own mag!"

Here is proof that Jim Shooter did indeed meet The Human Fly for real - Hopefully we remember that it was Jim Shooter himself is cited as making the link between The Human Fly and Rick Rojatt - at least in terms of his comic book identity - (Jim shooter, incidentally is probably standing on a box or something similar as he is well known for doing this in any photo to make himself look even taller than he already was)

"As the FLY talked about his stunt-cycle failure in Montreal last year (shown in HUMAN FLY issue 11), of his plans for future feats of daredevil daring as well as giving us a progress report on his upcoming career as a recording artist… who should come running into Marvel's Editorial Office but BOISTEROUS BILL MANTLO - Fly-scripter par excellence?!"

This gives us a rough idea of when the Human fly did visit the offices of Marvel and it would appear to be before the publication of issue 11, but after Montreal, making this possibly the last recorded appearance of The Human Fly in costume

It also cements again the source of the "real-life" details published in issue 11

"Finally, BOISTEROUS BILL MANTLO (Ya can't keep a good man down…or out of a picture!), The FLY and MERCURY tossed around a few plot ideas for upcoming issues of the HUMAN FLY! Then they all posed for the historic photo you see to your left before a giant mockup of the memorable cover of HUMAN FLY 1"

Mercury never did appear in The Human Fly comic, and with the possible expection of issue 11, none of the issues of the comic included any "plot ideas"

Luckily enough I have managed to find a much better quality version of this photo,which follows below and confirms that it does appear to be the same person wearing The Human Fly costume as seen in the video of the wing walk over the Mojave Desert, as The Human fly is clearly taller than Mercury in both

Finally there was also this announcement for The Human Fly Stunt contest

"Design a stunt that not even the Human Fly can perform, using whatever props your imagination can conjure forth - then figure out how the Fly can do it and live!  Ideas must be typed or clearly written - no more than one page (with a sketch of your idea, if possible…"

"Winners will see their stunt in print, as drawn by a marvel artist and will receive a credit plus an original Human Fly art page signed by the Fly himself!  Deadline is October 31, 1978 pilgrims… so if you're gonna do it - do it now!"

We will return to the the Stunt contest in two weeks time - but…

NEXT WEEK: We reach the last page of The Human Fly issue 1 and finally I attempt to answer all the questions about The Human Fly, Was he really real? Was he really Rick Rojatt?? All this and more next week

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


Welcome to part 16 of

Where it's time for Spider-man to join in and help The Human Fly, causing The Mercenary to get "The blazes out of here" but NOT if The Human Fly can help it in this next recreated page:-

Before we pick up from last week, one thing that does bare mentioning is the appearance of spider-man within the pages of The Human Fly comic, while one may dismiss this possibly as something Marvel routinely did (and possibly still do ) when introducing a new character there was actually both a legitimate story reason and a legally binding reason for featuring spider-man

That was to make it clear that The Human Fly was not the villain of the same name as first featured in The Amazing Spider-man annual 10

Which was written by none other than… Bill Mantlo

Anyway this Human Fly is actually Richard Deacon, was not at all based on a real person and yes, was created by… you guessed it, Bill Mantlo…! You can read more about Richard Deacon here…

The inclusion of Marvel Universe characters into The Human Fly did however create an ongoing tension in the letters pages - in my opinion The Human Fly comic was a little bit more realistic and more closer to the laws of physics and reality as we know them than a typical Marvel comic,  so yes a actual man bitten by a radioactive spider does seem a little bit put of place…

But it's one of many lines which are blurred within The Human Fly comic, which brings us neatly to last week, when we started delving through issue 11 "a true-to-life account of the near-tragedy at Montreal" or so the the cover copy would have us believe

Having found disputes with the recreation of that actual event and Ky Michealson's telling of the event, we moved on to ask what did The Human Fly do next in the comic after the accident…

In this page below we see The Human Fly make an attempt ("A Second chance") at another motorcycle stunt, this time to ride over the full length of the Gateway Arch St. Louis, Missouri…

which looks (in real life) something like this

The next page provides emapahsis for how vertically challenging the first part of the arch would be and how important it is for the Human Fly to succeed

And having made it to the top its plain sailing all the way down, with the event and its success being a very cathartic event for The Human Fly, who has shown he has regained his self belief as a result of this successful attempt…

To conclude we see the Human Fly about to perform a song and at the bottom we can see "The Monteral stunt took place on October 7, 1977 as depicted" (which clarifies that the rest that follows above is clearly fiction)

If any further proof was needed as to the source of the "real-life" elements in this story the I think this seals the deal, again its completely what the Publicity for The Human Fly stated on the letters page, as shown in this blog a few weeks ago

So what did the Human Fly do in real life after Montreal?

Unfortunately It does not appear to be question with an answer

I can find no evidence that is available to suggest that The Human Fly did any stunts of any description at all after Montreal or ever actually did a performance as a singer or part of band or anything similar at all, in fact after the Montreal Motorcycle incident The Human Fly appears to have more or less vanished from sight, not to be seen in public in any big way ever again

I leave to come to your own conclusions on this, before I provide my own in two weeks time…

NEXT WEEK : The Real Human Fly visits the offices of Marvel comics, complete with very murky photographs