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I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets! Paperback – June 20, 2007
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From 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)
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Hanks, who plied his trade in the late 1930s and early 1940s, has been called the Ed Wood of comic books, but his narratives are far more bizarre than Wood's film scenarios, and his naive artwork resembles that of outsider artists like Henry Darger. His creations include jungle queen Fantomah, who morphs into an all-powerful, skull-faced avenger; he-man lumberjack Big Red McLane; and his chef d'oeuvre, Stardust, "master of space and interplanetary forces," a tiny-headed, barrel-chested, eight-foot superhero with limitless powers. Hanks definitely had a vision, albeit a loopy one. In every story here, justice is meted out in cruelly imaginative ways to "spies and grade-A racketeers," "a gigantic fifth column," and other miscreants. Stardust transforms them into icicles that melt away, or giant rats he then drowns. Hanks' crude but powerful draftsmanship makes such grisly executions laughably nightmarish. In a comics-format afterword as sensitive and nuanced as Hanks' work is harsh and blunt, compiler Karasik tracks down the fate of the elusive Hanks, who vanished from the scene after producing a handful of hauntingly demented works. Flagg, Gordon
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Some people compare Fletcher Hanks to Ed Wood, which is a very applicable comparison, but if you had a contest of who was the least capable yet most entertaining I honestly think Mr. Hanks would win.
Some people compare Fletcher Hanks to Ed Wood, which is a very apt comparison, but Ed seems like a certified professional compared to Fletcher Hanks.
So you might wonder what in the world of comic book creations compares to Fletcher Hanks? Two things come to mind. First would be The Flaming Carrot. Second would be Tales Designed to Thrizzle. But what these guys do intentionally, Fletcher Hanks does by a sheer lack of writing talent or artistic ability.
We learn later in the book that he was a drunken abuser that later died frozen on a park bench in New York city. His style would presage the underground comix stylings that would exist years in the future in many ways. I enjoyed his work and think that; yes this art is good and these stories exist on several levels of psychological analysis as a example of man whose mind projects a twisted view of things, the giant hero is probably his own father? who knows is almost godlike and can deliver destruction at will. I think some of these comics should be shown to psychology students even. Is this psychotic or schizophrenic art? Or maybe not? Dali and others tried to mimic the schizophrenic art that mental patients did sometimes! Anyways comics are open to so many styles and ideas that we should enjoy these stories as early offbeat examples from a emerging medium. Comic books are part of the art medium and even film medium as well. So it's a good thing that we have this book around for us to read these unusual comics. The original comic books are way too expensive to track down these stories.