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Fletcher Hanks was the first great comic book auteur. That is, he wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered all of his own stories. He completed an astonishing 48 stories in three years from 1939-1941. As a one-man-cartooning-band, his work packs the wallop of a unique and unified artistic vision. He was a true comics visionary. In the earliest days of the comic book, before censorship, it was “anything goes!” — and in the tales of Fletcher Hanks, anything went!
The superhero Stardust gazes down at evil-doers from space and doles out ice cold slabs of poetic justice with his wizardry. A villain out to kidnap all the heads of state gets turned into a giant head, himself… no body, just a head! The jungle protectress, Fantomah, looks like Jean Harlow in a skin-tight black negligee. But when she sees an evil scientist drugging gorillas to become slaves, her head transforms into a flaming skull and she tosses the villain to the gorillas who proceed to graphically tear the guy limb from ragged limb.
Although the early comic books were meant for the kiddies, today’s mature readers are stunned by their pop surrealism and outright violent mayhem. The first volume of Fletcher Hanks stories, I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets! (in multiple printings) was an Eisner Award-winning smash hit and a staple on “Best of the Year” lists.
Comics fans were thrilled to come upon a cartoonist of this caliber whom they had never heard of before. Non-comics fans who read about the book in The Believer and other journals were stunned to discover an Outsider Artist in comic book form. Edited by cartoonist Paul Karasik (who also provides an insightful introduction), this second volume, You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, collects all of the rest of Hanks's comic book work. That’s right... ALL! The 31 tales in this book (more than TWICE as many as in the first), when combined with the first volume, comprise The Complete Fletcher Hanks!
Collected and edited by Paul Karasik, who also wrote the foreword.