“I Shall Destroy all the Civilized Planets,” edited by Paul Karasik

A friend alerted me to the awesomeness of this book, a collection of work by an underappreciated master of pulp comics, Fletcher Hanks. They’re essentially superhero tales, but they are completely unlike your standard Marvel fare. The stories of superheroes like Stardust the Super Wizard, Fantomah Mystery Woman of the Jungle, and Buzz Crandall of the Space Patrol follow a quick narrative arc and always end with the hero doling out a very complicated punishment to the nogoodniks and racketeers (like turning him into a caveman and leaving him to be eaten by panthers, or sending him into space to “the floating prison of eternal ice”). I also love the faux science—dozens of “rays” allow villains to commit bizarre crimes and let the heroes foil their plots. (Examples: radiophonic thought-recording ray, anti-solar ray, analytic ray, destructive thought rays, transforming ray.)

The drawings are crude but super-stylized. The collection of comics are followed by another comic, by the editor, of his tracking down Fletcher Hanks’ son. Totally awesome story.

Published: 2007, 124 pp.
Obtained via: Library
Date started: 1.8.08
Date finished: 1.12.08
What I liked: I love the way all the faces are nearly the same, frame-to-frame.
What I didn’t like: n/a
What I learned: Probably everything there is to know about Fletcher Hanks.

One Comment

  1. Paul Karasik

    Thanks for all the kind words about my book, “I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks”.

    Evidently the book also has appeal to people who don’t care about old comics. Of the book, Kurt Vonnegut said, ” The recovery from oblivion of these treasures is in itself a work of art.”

    The visual impact is like being hit in the brain by a jackhammer. Once you see Hanks’ work, you are not likely to forget it.

    I have been astonished by the reception. The first edition completely sold out within three weeks. Now the second edition has sold out and we are going into our third printing.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Hanks’ work, I urge you to wander over to my website, go to the BONUS page, and see the slideshow of a Fantomah story that does NOT appear in the book:


    (and check out the swell t-shirts!)

    -Paul Karasik

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