History of Fly Town

In October of 2012, Jan Flanigan began positioning flies on cartoon drawings and photographing them to cheer up a close friend who was caring for her gravely ill husband. Her friend’s husband ultimately died, and Jan continued to create fly art to provide her grieving friend with at least one bit of comic relief each day.  More about the history below in the section aptly titled, “More About the History”.

Here’s a news story about Fly Town from KMPH FOX 26 (it’s embedded video, so it might play a commercial first, just stick around for a few seconds to see the good stuff).
KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source



Ms. Flanigan collects the flies from windowsills, her back yard, and generous friends. If you go to a potluck at Jan’s house, you need not bring a casserole, but you must bring a dead fly.

Jan creates a cartoon drawing on a sketch pad. The drawings must be small enough to be in proportion to the fly. Some of the drawings are not much larger than a postage stamp. She carefully positions the fly or flies on the drawing, and then very cautiously photographs the work with a series of small studio lights and a macro lens. Any air movement (i.e. a heavy sigh) will displace the flies from their assigned positions.

The final product is not altered by computer programs.


Jan Flanigan, Fresno artist, just set a new low for the art world. She is a mixed media artist who combines her original drawings, actual flies, and photography to make pieces of work that are creating quite a buzz. She calls her art Fly Town Comics.

After spending the last 20 years in a state prison (as an employee), Jan Flanigan was ready to indulge in a healthier and more productive activity. Taking photos of flies on cartoon drawings was the clear choice. To date, she has created over 400 pieces of Fly Town art.

Ms. Flanigan does not claim to be a fly whisperer. She does not train the flies to pose or lay still. The flies tend to be pretty docile, being that they are no longer alive.

No mammals, reptiles, amphibians or plants are harmed during the making of this art.


Fly Town Comics is the artist’s direct response to a situation involving her very dear friends, Garry and Nancy, husband and wife for 30 years.  Garry, after fighting cancer for 14 months, had reached the end of his treatment.  Since Jan lives 250 miles away, she would e-mail them funny pictures to try to give them a little relief each day.  Garry and Nancy looked forward to receiving the e-mails, so Jan felt compelled to continually make new cartoons. This went on for about 6 weeks.  Then, Jan left Fresno to help with hospice care, and  spent the last several days of Garry’s life with Nancy and Garry.  Sadly, Garry died on November 1, 2012.  Following his death, Jan stayed with Nancy for an additional two weeks.  During those two weeks, Nancy, although heartbroken, came up with the ideas for some of Fly Town’s greatest cartoons.  Nancy welcomed the distraction of Fly Town in her life.

Garry and Nancy continue to be the driving force behind Fly Town Comics.



BEST IN SHOW at the 2013 Fresno County Fair and CHILDREN’S CHOICE AWARD went to Jan Flanigan’s photo titled “Playground Rings”.  Flanigan also received a first place in the insect photo division for “Pinata”, and an honorable mention for “Goose Flight School”.  She received a second place in the photographer’s choice division for “Shady Transaction”.



A large variety of Fly Town originals, photographic prints and cards are available by contacting the artist through this site.  Fly Town originals are also available at the Brush and Easel Gallery at 1476 W. Shaw.  Cards are available in Fresno at Kwirkworld in the Riverpark Shopping Center, and at Horn Photo in the Villagio Shopping Center.  Cards are also available in San Luis Obispo, at Kwirkworld on Higuera Street, and in Cambria at Deer Creek Antiques and Gifts on Main Street (located in the Nursery).  Limited items are available on Etsy.


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