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You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation! Paperback – September 8, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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)

“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)

“Crude but powerful drawings; an eye-shattering color palette; helter-skelter plotting, often with anticlimactic, fall-off-the-cliff endings…terror and glee at the misery of humanity, salted with some token of morality. Yes, that’s the Fletcher Hanks formula for a unique, unforgettable, Golden Age comics masterpiece.” (Paul Di Filippo - Sci-fi Wire)

“As much as I’ve been looking forward to the second collection, I honestly thought there was no way it could be as crazy, awesome, or crazy-awesome as the first one. I was wrong.” (Chris Sims - The-ISB.com)

“Hanks’ hyperactive, colorful, robust, and crazy disproportionate art is perfectly matched to his over-the-top storytelling…Hanks left behind a body of work that’s compelling to read simply because it’s so lunatic and inadvertently hilarious. 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.” (The Onion A.V. Club)

“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)

“[T]hese extraordinary visions from a different, four-colour era are as bold and striking as they are violent and strange.... Classic comics from a different age.” (Grovel)

“I mean, holy. Effing. S---... Was Hanks insane or otherwise mentally handicapped? Dunno, but as editor Paul Karasik points out in his meaty introduction, this was a man mean enough to kick his 4-year-old son down a flight of stairs... You’ll love how much you hate [these works]; you’ll hate how much you love them.” (Rod Lott - Bookgasm)

“One of the greatest comic book talents you’ve never heard of.... If you want to understand the essence of comic books in their purest form then pick up You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! and learn.” (Iann Robinson - Crave Online)

“Back in the Golden Age of comics there were few comic auteurs but Fletcher Hanks was one of the few. ... The stories are weird and grim. The art is unprofessional and beautiful.” (Nick Gazin - Vice)

“[T]hese surreal tales from the dawn of the super hero are uncompromisingly vivid, brutal, and at times, completely insane! ... Imagine reading this in the 1940s! It must have scared the crap out of people then, and it still remains eerie and bizarre even to this day!” (Edward Kaye - Hypergeek)

“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.” (Steve Hockensmith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)

About the Author

Fletcher Hanks (1889–1976) is an artist who, under various pseudonyms, wrote, drew, penciled, and inked his entire body of comics work from 1939–1941. Some consider his Fantomah character to be the first female superhero. He was an abusive alcoholic who was found frozen to death on a park bench.

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606991604
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606991602
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Fletcher Hanks, who also went by various aliases, was certainly one of the more unusual artists from the history of comic books. When comics were very new and very popular a lot of the artists used were frankly rather poor. It would be easy to overlook Hanks as just another of these crude early practitioners, and in fact that is exactly what happened to him until relatively recently. However Hanks' art really was not crude but it was very unusual. Fletcher realized right from the start that comics should be more then just real and everything should be pushed further then would be tolerable in any other media. For instance Hanks would make the hero so tall and massive that it would be hard to view him as an ordinary human, which was off course the whole point. Hanks' scripts reflect the same need for exaggeration; the title for the book comes from a line in an actual story. For example it is not enough for a villain to be defeated but terrible punishment would also be inflicted. It is safe to say that Hanks' stories are unlike anything else in comics.

Art restorations for both Hanks books are just terrific. The paper for the original comics has yellowed and the inks have faded. However the scans used in these books have all been restored to their original vibrancy with good clean white backgrounds. The restored scans are all nicely printed on flat paper in a book large enough to make for enjoyable reading. I wish everyone published comic book reprints this way and perhaps someday they will.

This book is meant as a companion piece to the earlier "I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!". For someone only interested in purchasing one book on Fletcher Hanks I would suggest the first volume.
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It has more variety than the previous book. It has a nice introduction that tells pretty much all that can be learned about Fletcher Hanks at this point. The biography is far from complete. What was he doing between 1930 and 1939? How did he wind up drawing comic books in New York? Why did he stop after only two years? What did he do with himself for 35 years until he was found dead on a park bench? We may never know the answers to these questions. All we have are the reminiscences of Hanks' children, and approximately 330 pages of comics.

And what about these comics? The intro asserts that Hanks should not be considered an "outsider" since he was a professional artist and was very much working "inside" the comics industry at the time. The intro also soberly reminds us that the comics we are about to read "were created by a man who once kicked his four-year-old son down a flight of stairs."

It was in this volume that I realized Fletcher Hanks could actually draw really well when he wanted to, and that therefore the crudity of style in the first volume was intentional, the result of a conscious decision imposed by the limitations of comics publishing at that time. It was in this volume that I really started to see and appreciate exactly what Fletcher Hanks was doing. Their bizarre appeal aside, these comics stand on their own as pure art. There's a certain naive, intense sincerity running through them which is rare in this medium. It hits you on an unexpected level.

Why did Hanks quit drawing comics? Perhaps more importantly, did he ever find personal redemption? Did he ever come to grips with his inner demons? In light of the scant information we have about him, one is tempted to view the story of Fantomah vs.
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Fletcher Hanks had a rather odd comics career. Although comic book writing was generally a young man's game in his era, Hanks didn't produce any comics till he was in his fifties, and he was done within a couple years, even though he'd live for over three more decades. That brief productive period of 1939-1941 is captured in its entirety in a pair of books: I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets and its successor (and the subject of this review), You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation.

This second volume has around three dozen stories, each just a few pages long, as well as an introduction by Paul Karasik that provides a biography (Karasik also provided material for the previous volume). The stories feature a number of different superheroes, but three stand out.

Stardust is "the most remarkable man of all time", a super-wizard who observes evil-doers from his remote star and then travels to Earth in his tubular spacial on accelerated supersolar light waves. He then uses his god-like powers to mete out justice against such villains as the Emerald Men of Asperus and Rip-the-Blood.

Fantomah is the most remarkable woman who ever lived. She protects the jungle and like Stardust, has power enough to stop villains such as the Scarlet Shadow, the Tiger Women (not to be confused with the Leopard Women of Venus) and Zomax, the Demonized Marine Scientist. When angry, she turns into a skeletal figure. Big Red McClane, on the other hand, is a lumberjack, but no mere mortal: he wins any brawl he gets in, no matter how many oppose him. These tales of the King of the North Woods are the only ones with any real continuity between stories.
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