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!
Order this book from us and get an exclusive FREE bonus: Color Me or Die!!, a black-and-white Fletcher Hanks mini-comic with a cover illustration by Charles Burns (pictured here with the dashing Mr. Karasik)! You will receive one of three randomly selected cover colors: yellow, orange, or hot pink. This offer is only available direct from Fantagraphics!
ICv2.com has an exclusive 6-page excerpt from the new Fletcher Hanks book You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!, featuring an entire story starring everybody's favorite omnipotent vengeance-seeker... no, not God, silly: Stardust the Super Wizard! This is in addition to our 13-page excerpt which is available for download from this page. Feast your eyes on Fletcher's feverish fantasias!
You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!, subtitled More Comics of Fletcher Hanks, is the follow-up to the surprise smash-hit volume I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and concludes the publishing of the complete comics work of Golden Age visionary Fletcher Hanks. Edited and with an introduction by Hanks maven Paul Karasik, this volume is nearly twice as big as the last one! This book is scheduled to be in stock and ready to ship any day now and in stores approximately 4 weeks later (subject to change).
On our product detail page we've got a free 13-page PDF preview with 2 complete stories starring Fantomah and Space Smith! Photo and video previews are still in the works -- watch this space. We've also adapted the striking cover image (designed by Jacob Covey) into a series of desktop wallpapers -- put a little Fantomah on your screen! Download the size matching your monitor resolution at the links below:
UPDATE! We've decided that (while supplies last) everyone who orders this book from us will get a FREE copy of our exclusive Color Me or Die!! Fletcher Hanks coloring book minicomic (with cover by Charles Burns), pictured below with the dashing Mr. Karasik!
• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... collects all the [Fletcher] Hanks material not included in the first book. Hanks' hyperactive, colorful, robust, and crazily disproportionate art is perfectly matched to his over-the-top storytelling... There are few artists, from the Golden Age to today, that so deftly blended goofy dialogue with terrifying violence and surreal situations; for better or worse, Hanks was a real original. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "[Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti] is a brutally funny and disturbing attempt to push some buttons, either uncomfortably or comfortably mired in taboo. The aesthetic of freaks, geeks, nerds and ugly men and women, all with dark pasts, dirty fetishes, sociopathic tendencies, and murderous habits all play out over 120 odd pages of frenetic cartoon violence, sometimes sexual, sometimes suicidal, sometimes offensive, but always funny." - Geek Pie
• Review: "Explainers [is] a veritable Bible of middle class American dysfunction... [Jules] Feiffer reveals the depths of his subject not only through the dialogue — which are filled with psychological, social and politic depths that few cartoonists have ever plumbed — but also through an amazing skill to capture the body language so crucial to human communication... Explainers is 500 pages of startling truth captured in sequential squiggles on paper, a real masterpiece worth delving into." - John E. Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Profile/Review: Robert Birnbaum of The Morning News proposes "a Mount Rushmore of American illustration" consisting of Bill Mauldin, Jules Feiffer, Ed Sorel, Seymour Chwast, and David Levine, adding "American Presidents is a 128-page compilation that assembles Levine’s survey of American leaders and their coteries and skewers them with delightful results. It should be a required text in American history courses—Levine’s images powerfully expose the venality, duplicity, and hypocrisy of the upper reaches of our government."
• Interviews: Inkstuds presents a two-fer of audio talks with newly-minted Mome contributors: first up, it's Noah Van Sciver (whose comics "read like they came from the mind of a crazed hobo. Seriously, they are great"); up second, it's T. Edward Bak (described simply as "great")
• List: Bdzoom reports that l'Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée (ACBD) has placed Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw on their summer reading shortlist (there's Tardi on there too)
• Review: "Nell Brinkley was an icon for several generations of women... The art [in The Brinkley Girls] has been beautifully restored, a task that must have been pure torture given the density of Brinkley's drawings and that sophisticated color work. My hat's off to whoever did that fabulous job." - Allan Holtz, Stripper's Guide
• Review: "At one point in her comic-style memoir [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man], Carol [Tyler] talks to us directly and says, 'The war was never really buried under tons of mental concrete. Rather, it was an active shaper of life, affecting moods and outcomes ... more than anyone ever knew.' Indeed. This is an important and deeply spiritual contribution to American culture." - David Crumm, Read the Spirit
• Review: "[You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is not your blood and guts portrayal of a ruthless soldier but rather an investigation into the emotional costs that war has on the combatant and the family that they sire, presenting a familiar story of the 'greatest generation' in an unfamiliar way." - Quentin Williams, two.one.five Magazine
• Review: "...Supermen! [is] a beautifully designed volume of early American comics... The edition is both aesthetically pleasing and sturdy, featuring clarified reprinting of the colour strips, covers, and scattered elements of advertisements and back matter." - Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "[West Coast Blues] is everything you would expect from a suspense thriller... Visually the comic book is also great. It's everything you would expect from Tardi... I don't believe that anybody else than him would have been able to visually translate Manchette's novel so well. It's like they worked together and that the comic book is the original material. Bottom line, this is another great comic book by Tardi. If you have never read anything by him you should. Luckily for North American readers, Fantagraphics announced that they that they were going to translate Tardi's work starting this fall." - Patrick Bérubé, Comic Book Bin
• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... gathers all the remaining material that the alcoholic, abusive [Fletcher] Hanks did during his brief tenure as a comic book creator in the late 1930s and early 40s... [T]here’s still plenty of weird and wonderful tales to delight and disturb... [and] there are panels here that are rather stunning in their ability to create tension and drama... The work remains strange, powerful, funny, terrifying and yes, at times beautiful..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (be sure to read the comments for an important clarification from editor Paul Karasik)
• Review: "Fans of Norwegian cult comics star Jason are in for something of a treat with Low Moon... what we have here are five stories, each of which would’ve previously warranted a collection in its own right, delivered together in one delicious hamper of Jason goodness... There’s never been a better time, then, to jump aboard the Jason train... This is as essential as comics gets." - Bookmunch
• Review: "It’s hard to think of a modern cartoonist with a more recognizable drawing style than Norway’s Jason... But Jason’s storytelling is just as distinctive as his drawing style... [and] the artist’s narrative approach has grown more adventurous over the years. Jason’s latest collection, Low Moon, is evidence of this trend... The reader, meanwhile, just lapses into a giddy comics coma." - Casey Jarman, Willamette Week
• Preview: Previews posts 7 pages from Low Moon. Have we mentioned it's in stores today?
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch concludes his 2-part chat with "the visionary" Jason. Sample quote: "I worked in a furniture factory for nine months... I really hated it. So I went to art school instead. Turned out to be not that much of a difference, of course."
• Interview: The hosts of The Comix Claptrap podcast "talk comics shop and try to get LA gossip from talented cartoonist, John Pham, of Sublife, Kramers Ergot 7 and Mome fame"
• Plug: "Low Moon: It’s the latest from Jason. Or, in other words, it’s one of this week’s absolute must-reads." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Pick of the week: Low Moon... [B]y this point Jason has proven himself to be one of the stellar talents in Fantagraphics' roster (which is really saying something, by the way) and this collection of short stories... should likely only cement that reputation as the artist plays with such traditional genres as the Western, film noir, and alien abductions. All offered with the usual dollops of sardonic humor and heartfelt sympathy." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Low Moon: New Jason, from Fantagraphics. All I need to know... This guy's a treasure." - Jog - The Blog
• Plug: John Jakala of Sporadic Sequential takes us to task for the smaller trim size of Luba vs. Palomar, but concedes "the smaller size is actually easier to handle when reading. OK, you win this round, Fantagraphics"
• List/Review: "Shouldn't we build a monument of some kind to John Benson? He is responsible for some of the best research, compiling and editing of comics history. [Confessions, Romances, Secrets & Temptations] is... full of excellent and sometimes quite eccentric interviews with St. John romance cartoonists and writers. An indispensible peek inside the industry and its characters." - Dan Nadel's "current favorite books about comics history," Comics Comics
• Review: "...Fletcher Hanks comes across as a villainous sort in his own bylined book [You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!] — a vessel of combined artistry and wrath, whose published legacy is as nightmarish as it is brilliant. The art reproductions capture vividly both Hanks’ aggressive drawing style and the garish colors of the original Depression-into-wartime publications." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Review: "[Peter Bagge's] Reason features... add up to a splendidly funny-and-angry new book called Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... Bagge rejects party-line herd-following in order to raise a uniquely sane voice among political cartoonists... [He is] one terrific cartoonist, with a keen constancy of purpose." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Preview: "It's no secret why Michael Kupperman is a favorite of Robert Smigel and Conan O'Brien — he's one of the most weirdly funny writers around... Tales Designed to Thrizzle is the dirtiest, funniest comic book to come out in a long time." - New York Magazine presents an exclusive 8-page excerpt from Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1
I think we're all caught up on our Online Commentary & Diversions now:
• Review: "It's impossible not to love Jason's hapless cartoon characters; they're dog-faced descendants of Charlie Chaplin in that way, usually placed into situations far beyond their control or understanding... The five stories that make up Low Moon, Jason's newest collection of comics, hark back to the classic golden age of film... Each story reverberates with the little eccentricities that Jason has built a career on (instead of gunfights, the cowboys in the title story battle over long games of chess). Remarkably, none of them seem over-the-top or manipulative." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "From Jordan Crane and Fantagraphics, Uptight #3. One of the best covers of the year and the last time, I suspect, that the guys in the crowd will read 'Back soon' and not feel that chill at the back of the neck." - Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "Sublife weaves a tighter, more focused narrative with intelligently ornate Chris Ware inspired design..." - Raina Lee, Lunch
• Review: "The current issue of theComics Journal (#297) has a wonderful in-depth interview with cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey, as well as a stable of other strips including Hi and Lois, Sam and Silo, and Boner's Ark that's a fun read." - Randy Reynaldo, WCG Comics
• Commentary: Looking at our recent spate of Special Edition releases at examiner.com, Spencer Ellsworth says "the notes, interviews and annotations give a look into some of the most innovative of the new generation of movers and shakers in the current comics renaissance."
• List: Industry news & analysis site ICv2 ranks sales of The Complete Peanuts at #3 on the list of "Top 10 Humor Properties Q1 2009"
• List: The Comics Reporter reports that at BEA a panel of librarians chose a list of "Hot Fall Graphic Novels," including our forthcoming titles Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 and West Coast Blues by Manchette & Tardi
"The Fletcher Hanks Experience" will debut at MoCCA Comics festival on Saturday, June 6 at 5:00.
"The Fletcher Hanks Experience" is a safari over the craggy landscape of the psyche of Fletcher Hanks. Combining archival audio of Hanks' son with comic book panels, Paul Karasik takes the audience into the mind of the man whom R. Crumb called, "A Twisted dude".
PLUS: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!" the 2nd of volume of collected Hanks tales will also debut at MoCCA!
PLUS PLUS PLUS: Each Hanks book purchased at MoCCA comes with a complimentary coloring book, "Color Me or DIE!" with a cover drawn by Charles Burns!!!
Paul Karasik will be signing books on Saturday, June 6 from 2-3 and Sunday, June 7 from 12-1
(For more Fantagraphics signing times and activities, click here.)
Following the stunning success of the Eisner Award winning I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, a second volume collecting the stories of Fletcher Hanks, "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!", will debut at MoCCA in June.
Volume II contains more than TWICE as many Fletcher Hanks stories than Volume I as well as an introduction written by Paul Karasik and illustrated with drawings never before published by the elusive Super Wizard of the Inkwell, Fletcher Hanks.
Together the two volumes will comprise The Complete Fletcher Hanks, the artist who created 51 tales in a hailstorm of creative fury during the first three years of the comic book industry and then...mysteriously disappeared.
It now seems that he left behind another mystery, as well.
In compiling the book, editor Karasik noticed a few peculiarities. Hanks wrote and drew a story featuring a Jungle Magician named Tabu in Jungle Comics #2 (Jan. 1940). In this story Tabu speaks an odd Jungle patois in a single panel (otherwise he chats and thinks in, of course, perfect English), "ALLA KA TABU NEE PAPH EN YAL!".
Six months later in Jungle Comcs # 6 (June 1940), an evil character named The Demon speaks to the rainforest denizens in much the same kind of lingo when he says, "ALI KAH BABLOO NE PAPH EN YAH!" (see below)
Two very similar word balloons, six months apart. Is there a hidden meaning?
Calling all linguists and code-crackers! Any thoughts or suggestions, please contact Pau Karasik via his website: