I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks

I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks

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by Paul Karasik, Fletcher Hanks
     
 

Welcome to the bizarre world of Fletcher Hanks, the mysterious cartoonist who created a hailstorm of tales of brutal retribution from 1939-1941...and then mysteriously vanished. His obscure and hard to find stories are finally collected here.
Welcome to the bizarre world of Fletcher Hanks, Super Wizard of the Inkwell. Fletcher Hanks worked for only a few years

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Overview

Welcome to the bizarre world of Fletcher Hanks, the mysterious cartoonist who created a hailstorm of tales of brutal retribution from 1939-1941...and then mysteriously vanished. His obscure and hard to find stories are finally collected here.
Welcome to the bizarre world of Fletcher Hanks, Super Wizard of the Inkwell. Fletcher Hanks worked for only a few years in the earliest days of the comic book industry (1939-1941). Because he worked in a gutter medium for second-rate publishers on third-rate characters, his work has been largely forgotten. But among aficionados he is legendary. At the time, comic books were in their infancy. The rules governing their form and content had not been established. In this Anything Goes era, Hanks' work stands out for its thrilling experimentation. At once both crude and visionary, cold and hot as hell, Hanks' work is hard to pigeon hole. One thing is for certain: the stuff is bent. Hanks drew in a variety of genres depicting science-fiction saviors, white women of the jungle, and he-man loggers. Whether he signed these various stories "Henry Fletcher" or "Hank Christy" or "Barclay Flagg" there is no mistaking the unique outsider style of Fletcher Hanks.
Cartoonist Paul Karasik (co-adapter of Paul Auster's City of Glass, and co-author of The Ride Together: A Memoir of Autism in the Family) has spent years tracking down these obscure and hard to find stories buried in the back of long-forgotten comic book titles. Karasik has also uncovered a dark secret: why Hanks disappeared from the comics scene. This book collects 15 of his best stories in one volume followed by an afterword which solves the mystery of "Whatever Happened to Fletcher Hanks," the mysterious cartoonist who created a hailstorm of tales of brutal retribution...and then mysteriously vanished.2008 Eisner Award WINNER: Best Archival Collection/Project — Comic Books
2008 Eisner Award Nominee: Best Short Story, "Whatever Happened to Fletcher Hanks?" by Paul Karasik

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Editorial Reviews

Douglas Wolk - Salon
“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.”
Chris Reilly - Bookslut
“Awkward, weird and just a monkey ball of visual fun.”
R. Crumb
“Raw, powerful stuff. I'm glad to see a book like this. Fletcher Hanks was a twisted dude.”
Kim Deitch
“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.”
Rack Raids
“"These stories of weird justice were illustrated in a style of studied primitivism that seems to mix Basil Wolverton with Grandma Moses. And while the best way to discover Hanks is the way I did—in Golden Age comic reprints, sticking out like a weird sore thumb in between the adventures of tough-guy lugs like Shark Brodie and Hooks Devlin—the concentrated dosage in this collection is still a fascinating picture of a truly one-of-a-kind artist whose view of existence as a perpetual penal sentence was evidently borne out by his miserable life and bleak death... while Hanks may not have been an exemplary human being, he was driven by a force of imagination that few of his era could match.”
Gary Panter
“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.”
Greil Marcus
“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?”
Dick Hyacinth
“I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets is probably the archival project of the year, in that (a) these comics were not readily available in any format other than their original printings, and (b) this is an essential book for any comics library.”
Aaron Ragan-Fore - Eugene Weekly
“These are comic books in their unfiltered, prewar form, a superheroic fever dream, the sort of deliciously salacious stores that made Mom chuck all the comics out.”
Jules Feiffer
“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.”
Kurt Vonnegut
“[The] recovery from oblivion of these treasures is in itself a major work of art.”
Brian Heater - New York Press
“An unrecognized genius of the form…one of comics’ ultimate outside artists…unquestionably distinctive.”
Joshua Glen - The Boston Globe
“Bold and eccentric, truly the work of a visionary.”
R. C. Baker - The Village Voice
“The grotesque physiognomies of Hanks’s criminal masterminds and the overamped colors are as trippy as anything that appeared in ‘70s underground comics.”
Tom Spurgeon - The Comics Reporter
“Beautiful and thrilling and terrifying.”
The Onion A.V. Club
“Hanks' work reads as if David Lynch, Daniel Johnston, and Ed Wood sat down to collaborate on a superhero comic…these stories have the feel of great outsider art.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Even if Karasik didn't provide us with a biographical prose portrait of a hard-drinking, often mean, abusive man with a streak of misanthropy he gilded with Ayn Rand-y selfish Objectivism, this collection of
Fletcher Hanks comics would still be jaw-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.”
Christian Zabriskie - Graphic Novel Reporter
“A perfect example of publishers saving comics from obscurity…great stories, incredibly trite but lively with a passionate definition of right and wrong, which gives them an infectious dynamism and excitement.”
Burl Burlingame - Honolulu Star-Bulletin
“Hanks' groove, taken back to back like this, is unsettling... It can be downright creepy. Generally, when you talk about a comic auteur's 'issues,' you're talking page count, not whether he has his head screwed on straight. It's multiplied by Hanks' art style, which at first seems crude but is actually quite stylized and consistent. Many images, such as troupes of unfortunates flying in hurtling, screaming weightlessness, have the impact of nightmares... And the twisted comics universe once inhabited by Fletcher Hanks is eerie and unsettling, and fascinating in what it reveals about the man with the pen.”
Steve Hockensmith
“Fletcher Hanks was one strange, f-ed up bastard who created some of the weirdest, creepiest, and (entirely by accident) most revealing comics of the Golden Era.”
Publishers Weekly

One of the strangest cartoonists of American comics' Golden Age, Hanks had a short career-the 15 stories collected here were all published between 1939 and 1941-but the deranged, nightmarish vigor of his work has made it something of a cult item. Hanks created pulpy characters like Stardust the Super Wizard, "the scientific marvel whose vast knowledge of all planets has made him the most remarkable person ever known," and the jungle heroine Fantomah, whose face becomes a snarling skull when she uses her magic powers. The artist's manic obsessions turn up again and again: global-scale atrocities, miraculous rays and, most of all, poetically apt punishments. In a typical story, "Master-Mind" De Structo tries to suffocate America's heads of state with an oxygen-destroying ray, so Stardust turns him into a giant head, then hurls him into a "space pocket of living death" occupied by a "headless headhunter." Hanks's artwork is crude and technically limited (each of his characters has exactly one, wildly caricatured, facial expression), but nearly every page has some image that sings out with deep, primal power. In an afterword, editor Paul Karasik explains how he tracked down Hanks's son and learned a bit more about the artist's sad life and death. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560978398
Publisher:
Fantagraphics Books
Publication date:
06/25/2007
Pages:
120
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Paul Karasik is the co-author (along with David Mazzucchelli) of the perennial graphic novel classic City of Glass, adapted from Paul Auster’s novel. He lives in Martha’s Vineyard.

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