Fletcher Hanks was the first great comic book auteur. That is, he wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered all of his own stories. He completed an astonishing 48 stories in three years from 1939-1941. As a one-man-cartooning-band, his work packs the wallop of a unique and unified artistic vision. He was a true comics visionary. In the earliest days of the comic book, before censorship, it was “anything goes!” — and in the tales of Fletcher Hanks, anything went!
The superhero Stardust gazes down at evil-doers from space and doles out ice cold slabs of poetic justice with his wizardry. A villain out to kidnap all the heads of state gets turned into a giant head, himself… no body, just a head! The jungle protectress, Fantomah, looks like Jean Harlow in a skin-tight black negligee. But when she sees an evil scientist drugging gorillas to become slaves, her head transforms into a flaming skull and she tosses the villain to the gorillas who proceed to graphically tear the guy limb from ragged limb.
Although the early comic books were meant for the kiddies, today’s mature readers are stunned by their pop surrealism and outright violent mayhem. The first volume of Fletcher Hanks stories, I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets! (in multiple printings) was an Eisner Award-winning smash hit and a staple on “Best of the Year” lists.
Comics fans were thrilled to come upon a cartoonist of this caliber whom they had never heard of before. Non-comics fans who read about the book in The Believer and other journals were stunned to discover an Outsider Artist in comic book form. Edited by cartoonist Paul Karasik (who also provides an insightful introduction), this second volume, You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, collects all of the rest of Hanks's comic book work. That’s right... ALL! The 31 tales in this book (more than TWICE as many as in the first), when combined with the first volume, comprise The Complete Fletcher Hanks!
Download an EXCLUSIVE 13-page PDF excerpt (3.6 MB) containing 2 complete stories starring Fantomah & Space Smith!
"Once you see one of Super Wizard Stardust’s grotesquely ironic punishments or blonde bombshell Fantomah’s inexplicable transformations to skull-headed jungle avenger, it’s impossible to look away. Fantagraphics and Editor Paul Karasik take a return trip inside Hanks’ demented psyche, collecting the entire remaining chunk of the uniquely unsettling work from this do-it-all Golden Age cartoonist of singular, warped vision." – Wizard
may have been awkward and crude — in an eerily fascinating way — and his stories simultaneously childish
and brutal — miscreants invariably meet cruelly harsh fates — but there’s no denying his work possesses a
primitively powerful vigor. ...[D]evotees will be grateful for another chance to
marvel at Hanks’ deliriously demented vision. And, of course, those who missed the first collection will be
gob-smacked." – Gordon Flagg, Booklist
Praise for I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets!:
"[The] recovery from oblivion of these treasures is in itself a major work of art." – Kurt Vonnegut
"Raw, powerful stuff. I'm glad to see a book like this. Fletcher Hanks was a twisted dude." – R. Crumb
"Hanks is a wild card original who very nearly slipped through the cracks of art history. To those among us who spend years sifting through the cultural chaff looking for those tiny flecks of art gold, this book is truly a miraculous dream come true." – Kim Deitch
"Fletcher Hanks was this old guy back in the old days who made magic jellybeans. The magic jellybeans looked like comics, but they were magic jellybeans." – Gary Panter
"Fletcher Hanks couldn't draw much or write hardly at all. So he turned his crude and primitive quasi-gifts into a comic-art style that made a strong impression on kids like me back in the 1940s. It's a pleasure to see this first published edition of his puzzlingly effective work doing what early comic books were supposed to do: making up a new set of rules for a new kind of art form and almost getting away with it." – Jules Feiffer
"There is something cracked here. The feeling is that of a third grader in the back row drawing unbelievably complex destructo-machines while inside of him a grown man boils with hate and rage: Kill them all! And where did those jaws come from?" – Greil Marcus
"Hanks' work reads as if David Lynch, Daniel Johnston, and Ed Wood sat down to collaborate on a superhero comic." – The Onion
"[Hanks] may have been the most bat-shit insane cartoonist to ever wield a pen... almost every panel here feels as if it has been rescued from a majestic nightmare." – Douglas Wolk, Salon.com Best Graphic Novels of 2007
"The grotesque physiognomies of Hanks's criminal masterminds (all bent on apocalyptic destruction) and the overamped colors are as trippy as anything that appeared in '70s underground comix." – The Village Voice
"...[J]aw-dropping... What comes across is Hanks' free-floating, near-constant outpouring of rage and paranoia — rage that there is evil in the world, paranoia that it was coming to silence his heroes...and in effect, himself." – "The Best Comics of 2007," Entertainment Weekly
"Awkward, weird and just a monkey ball of visual fun." – Chris Reilly, Bookslut "Best of 2007"
"Top Dozen Comics (Reprinting Previous Publication or Archival)," 2007, The Comics Reporter
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