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Fletcher Hanks (1) (1887–1976)

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Værker af Fletcher Hanks

Associated Works

Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics (2013) — Illustrator — 65 eksemplarer

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I'm glad that of the 51 stories fully reproduced in Turn Loose Our Death Rays and Kill Them All! : the complete works of Fletcher Hanks, 29 are about his super wizard Stardust and jungle-protecting Fantomah, whom I think are his best characters.

Stardust gets 15 stories and Fantomah 14. Big Red McLane, the fighting lumberjack, has 9 stories. Three one-shot heroes are Yank Wilson, super-spy Q4; Tiger Hart of of Crossbone Castle on Planet Saturn (which looks suspiciously like Earth's medieval Europe), and Tabu, Wizard of the Jungle. Tabu appeared in 'Jungle Comics' #1. Fantomah took over the super-powered jungle protector role in issue two. Unlike Tabu, we don't know how Fantomah got her powers. It's not surprising that her two looks are given a split screen for the cover. She's memorable.

Then we have our various space heroes. Space Smith and his companion, Dianna, are in 7 stories. Aside from the fact that he lives on Venus and works for the Interplanetary Secret Service, there's not much difference between 'Daring Mystery's' Whirlwind Carter and 'Fantastic Comics' ' Space Smith. At least Carter's blonde, Brenda Hale, has a job of her own on Earth. They have only two stories. Buzz Crandall, who had a single story in 'Planet Comics' is a very obvious clone of Whirlwind Carter. Buzz also lives on Venus, he's a secret agent in Earth's Space Army, and has a blond assistant on Earth named Sandra Hale. (Not trying very hard there, Mr. Hanks.)

Why did I buy this book? A website called has a section on stupid comics. Fantomah's 'The Super Gorillas' is the first example in the Golden Age section. Stardust's 'The Fifth Columnists' is the third. I wanted to see more, but all I got was an entry in The League of Regrettable Superheroes : the Loot Crate edition by Jon Morris, which I freely admit I bought for the shot of Fantomah on the cover. Then I saw a Comic Tropes video on Fletcher Hanks on YouTube. It mentioned this book and I wanted it! Was it worth it? Yes!

I don't particularly care about Big Red McLane. His basic plot is are stealing lumber from the company (or want to pay the company's land), and Red beats the creeps up. The thing I like best about Red is that his cap covers up that overly high forehead that Mr. Hanks tended to give villains and heroes alike. I can't even remember Yank Wilson's story. Tabu pales in comparison to Fantomah. I wish the horns on Tiger Hart's helmet had been left off or made larger. They looked silly on his head. The adventure wasn't bad.

Space Smith, Whirlwind Carter, and Buzz Crandall get to fight some rather ugly (except for the Leopard Women of Venus), aliens.

Stardust has his fancy rays and Fantomah her frightening powers. Stardust is very tall. The normal men he meets come up to his pectoral muscles. He deals with racketeers, evil scientists, and Fifth Columnists. They are ruthless. Plenty of people die before Stardust arrives to save the day. (Must admit that I had a mental list of modern candidates for the story in which the villains are taking out all the big shots in America. That one has a recognizable drawing of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was one of the big shots who survived.)

Stardust has such a crushing grip that I'm surprised any villain who feels it lives long enough to experience whatever punishment our hero dishes out, which may involve exile in a bad place or a horrific transformation. Continuity is not Mr. Hanks' strong suit. He had the villain massacre the entire population of Mars in a September 1940 story, but in a January 1941 story, the Fifth Columnists are teaming up with invading Martians.

I'd be more upset about Stardust's Sixth Column if not for his mental abilities to choose them. I do NOT like Mr. Hanks writing that they were under his control. The members are underage.

I have a bigger problem with the way Mr. Hanks wrote Fantomah. Stardust lives out in space, so it's understandable that he takes time to get to Earth. Fantomah senses what the villain(s) are planning, but waits until the plan is being carried out before she does anything. By that time, humans and/or animals have died. I enjoy the extremely nasty fates she deals the evildoers, I just wish she'd have gotten on the ball sooner. In one story the villains are attacking in both the old world and the new, but Fantomah has no trouble fighting a two-front battle. I guess she doesn't care which jungle she's protecting, as long as it's a jungle. (Usually, it seems to be set in Africa, but sometimes the jungle seems to be in India, especially when a city is involved. Having tigers and lions in the same story makes it even harder to tell.) Except for her last story, and one in which they are villainesses who ride tigers, all of the villains are white men. The tiger women, called 'Vahines,' are white-skinned in the first page but brown in the rest of the pages. It's a lighter brown than the natives are usually colored, but brown. 11/11/21 update: Today I learned that the Asiatic lion survives in a part of India, so there could be lions and tigers together in a jungle.

How Mr. Hanks depicted the hapless jungle natives changed over the years. They were always well built, but the African natives were drawn with thick lips and brutish features in the earlier stories. First the brutish features were toned down, then the lips were narrowed. Aside from the Vahines and the man named Org in the last Fantomah story, the natives are just minding their own business when they're attacked. (Org wants to rule the jungle.) Fantomah may be a white savior, but at least she's not the queen of the jungle. She worries about protecting the humans and animals without expecting anything in return. Her skull-faced form looks quite unnerving.

The last part of the book is how editor Paul Karasik tracked down information on Fletcher Hanks. It's told in comic book style. It ends in a reproduction of Fletcher Hanks' death certificate. It's a fitting companion to Mr. Karasik's introduction,which includes reproductions of Mr. Hanks' student work. I enjoyed recognizing some of the political topics of that time. (The sample showing that Fletcher Hanks actually studied anatomy through his correspondence school was amusing, given his drawing style.)

As the book points out, Fletcher Hanks' stories are a one-man show, not the usual team. There's no artist interpreting the writer's instructions or the inker changing the look of the pencils. It was all Mr. Hanks and he had a distinctive style. If you enjoy Golden Age comics with especially nasty villains who get served horrific justice, be sure to read this book.
… (mere)
JalenV | Oct 30, 2021 |
The world of comics was radically different in 1939. No single artist proves this dictum than the largely-forgotten Fletcher Hanks. I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets!, the first collection of Hanks' work, introduces a new generation to this artist's strange works.

Soon after the April, 1938 introduction of Superman in Action Comics #1, new publishers sprang up and needed content for the suddenly-popular comic books. Almost anyone who could draw landed a job in the burgeoning industry. During this mad scramble Fletcher Hanks, who obviously understood little about anatomy, began publishing stories in a variety of obscure publications such as Fantastic, Jungle, Fight, and Big Three Comics.

Hanks' fantastic stories usually feature the intergalactic protector Stardust or Fantomah, mysterious woman of the jungle. Both beings meted out justice and vengeance upon the guilty like some cosmically-powered Shadow, though these heroes went far beyond the punishments of that legendary cloaked avenger. Villains are frozen in space, dissected, poisoned, and transmogrified. The penalties inflicted matched the heinous and creative crimes committed, usually mass murder of millions for greed, by a variety of methods such as stopping the Earth's rotation, tsunami, suffocation, huge spiders, and "giant flaming hands." Each story in this collection concludes with some uniquely horrific act.

Of the fifteen Hanks stories, all but two feature both heroes. One starred Big Red McLane, King of the Northwoods, a lumberjack who defends loggers against the marauding Red River Boys. The other showcases the Venusian Interplanetary Secret Service agent Buzz Crandall of the Space Patrol as he struggles against the evil in the universe.

Often crude but always dynamic, Fletcher Hanks' art recalls his better known contemporary Basil Wolverton. Hanks' career spanned just three years, 1939-1941, after which he disappeared into obscurity.

Paul Karasik's illustrated afterword grants an inside look into the life of the mysterious Hanks. Karasik tracks down Fletcher Hanks, Jr. and uncovers some disturbing and fascinating information about the elder Hanks.

Complete with color-corrected art, this lush production falters only in the lack of background information about the stories and the artist himself. A fascinating and somewhat outlandish collection, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! rescues Fletcher Hanks from the purgatory of forgotten creators and restores his rightful place among the pantheon of the bizarre.

(The review originally appeared on RevolutionSF.)
… (mere)
rickklaw | 9 andre anmeldelser | Oct 13, 2017 |
As you may know, I love classic sci fi and adventure novels, and yet I always forget that I would also probably love their counterpart in 1930s/1940s boy and manhood, the classic comic book. Fletcher Hanks was a mysterious comic artist. He only worked for a few years in the late 1930s and early 1940s and then disappeared. When Paul Karasik found a man with the same (unusual) name, he looked him up and happened upon Hanks' elderly, estranged son. The story of Karasik's meeting with Hanks, Jr. and the answers to some of the mysteries surrounding Hanks is illustrated by Karasik and included as an afterward to this pretty damn exciting collection of the senior Hanks' work in the comic genre. First, take a quick minute to Google image search "Fletcher Hanks" so you can see what I'm talking about. Pretty great, right? Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle is my new life coach. Stardust, The Super Wizard needs to have a movie made about him right now. They are simple and exciting characters with clear motivations (stop evil!) and a rough, colorful drawing style that works perfectly with a cheaply printed comic book.

[full review here: ]
… (mere)
kristykay22 | 9 andre anmeldelser | Mar 20, 2016 |
I wonderful example of true outsider art that somehow leaked through the channels of capitalism. Reminded me a lot of northern renaissance paintings. The ideological disjunctions are explained with Paul Karasik's graphic postscript.
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librarianbryan | 9 andre anmeldelser | Apr 20, 2012 |



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Associated Authors

Carl Burgos Illustrator
Steve Dahlman Illustrator
Ray Gill Author
Jack Kirby Author
Harry Sahle Illustrator
Ben Thompson Illustrator
Paul Karasik Editor, Afterword, Introduction
Will Murray Introduction
Alex Schomburg Illustrator
Harry Morgan Translator
Paul Baresh Producer
Jacob Covey Designer
Gary Groth Publisher
Eric Reynolds Associate publisher


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