Category: Fletcher Hanks

Comics panel: Fletcher Hanks, I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!

Fletcher Hanks, I Shall Destroy All The Civilized PlanetsThe nearly forgotten early comic-book artist Fletcher Hanks is rescued from obscurity with I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets (Fantagraphics), which collects 15 of the stories he wrote and illustrated during a brief career in the lower echelons of comics publishing from 1939 to 1941. Hanks’ work reads as if David Lynch, Daniel Johnston, and Ed Wood sat down to collaborate on a superhero comic—the exploits of Stardust the Super Wizard and jungle queen Fantomah are childlike in their endearingly naïve storytelling style and bizarrely imaginative, brutal revenge fantasies. For all his simplistic repetition, Hanks had a real gift for surreal imagery. Giant flaming maroon disembodied hands maul African lions; gangsters turn off gravity, causing billions to float helplessly into the stratosphere; 50,000 giant panthers are set loose on the streets of New York. These stories have the feel of great outsider art, which is only intensified by what little is known about Hanks’ rather sad life—in an afterword, editor Paul Karasik paints a picture of an abusive drunk who froze to death on a park bench, ironically living more like one of his villains than his creepily virtuous heroes… A-

Originally published on avclub.com Aug. 16, 2007 as part of a group-written roundup. Read the complete article.

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