MLJ MAGAZINES/ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS'
In 1964 comic book fandom in North America was still pretty much in its infancy. There were no comics clubs to speak of outside of perhaps some kids getting together informally on occasion to talk about their favourite four colour mags. Comics conventions had only just come into existence with the first one taking place in May of that year. Magazines such as Wizard and Comics Buyer's Guide didn't exist and while there were fanzines-the most notable being Jerry Bails' and Roy Thomas' Alter Ego-their circulation most often number in the low hundreds. And as for the Internet, message boards, yahoo groups, blogs and all the other neat stuff we all take for granted these days that kind of thing wasn't even appearing in the most wildest of science fiction tales. So when comics fans-even that term wasn't being used at that point-wanted to find out what was going on with their favourite comics in 1964 the only way they could do that was to hang out at the mom and pop shops, pharmacies, newsstands, etc. every Tuesday and Thursday after school (there weren't any comics shops either, by the way) to see what comics would pop out when the proprietor would cut the wire that was holding the bundle together (and in a lot of cases the kids weren't even allowed to be in premises when this twice-a-week ritual took place).
This was how fans of The Fly realized that with Adventures of The Fly #30 (cover-date October 1964) the adventures of their favourite winged hero and his faithful sidekick Fly Girl were no more. While some fans-mostly those who paid attention to the publication dates in the indica and saw that Adventures of The Fly had gone semi-annual-suspected that that was the direction the comic was headed it was still none the less a shock to the Fly-fans when after hanging out a few months at their favourite haunts no number 31 appeared on the stands. And as there was no way to complain about their favourite comic vanishing from the scene-outside of writing a letter to an anonymous editor which most fans suspected were never read anyway-Fly-fans would just sign and look for something else to replace it on their "must buy" list.
However, those Fly-fans who also read the Archie Adventure Series' remaining title, The Shadow, soon learned The Fly was not in fact gone forever but was to undergo a monumental-some would say absurd-change. In issue number five of The Shadow (cover-dated March 1965), a house ad appeared announcing the return of The Fly with a new name and new powers. To be called Fly Man, as well as possessing his old powers of flight, super-strength, etc. he-and his partner-were now able to shrink and grow in size ala Marvel's Ant-Man/Giant-Man. And if this wasn't enough to excite long suffering Fly fans, appearing in the last panel of the house ad were three shadowy figures which caused Fly Man to gasp in shock as he exclaimed, "Now that I've met you three, I've a hunch things will never be the same!".
Truer words were never spoken as comics fans would find out two months later with the release of Fly Man #31 May, 1965; a title that would result in a line of comics that you had to see to believe. The Mighty Comics Group.
That's it for the historical overview for this year. In early 2009 it will return and begin to explore the wonderful, mind-boggling world of The Mighty Comics Group. That's not it for E-Dispatches from the Great White North though for 2008. There'll be one more installment later this week dealing with some new directions for this column/blog in 2009.