Recently rediscovered and dubbed “the Ed Wood of comics”, the late Fletcher Hanks was a cartoonist from the golden age of comic books (late 1930s – late 40s). His comics weren’t exactly a hit at the time, but have gained a cult following in this century due to their unintentional surrealism and before-their-time artwork.
The Ed Wood comparison isn’t quite justifiable. Hanks’ work was awkward and kind of crappy, but the same can be said about many golden age comics. Just read early Superman, it’s super silly. Hanks was more like Henry Darger or Daniel Johnston. He had a brilliant imagination and was most probably just a tiny bit insane. As seen in his characters.
There’s something wonderfully creepy about Fantomah, mystery woman of the jungle, (one of the first superheroines, predating Wonder Woman) a see-through-skirt wearing witch whose face turns into a skull when scaring evil poachers. Or Big Red McLane*, a somewhat homoerotic lumberjack with a neck thicker that his head. And of course Tiger Hart of Crossbone Castle, on the planet Saturn, that tells the story of Tiger Hart, a medieval knight who battles a band of robbers. On the planet Saturn. But it’s the creature design that really wins you over. It might be the sexiest since Hieronymus Bosch. If the saurian riding Leopard Women of Venus don’t make you either hard or wet, you’re either impotent or frigid.
One more thing: Fletcher Hanks was supposedly an alcoholic and an abusive father and spouse. But hey, Beethoven and Peter Sellers were assholes too. Let’s not dwell on their shortcomings. Not when they produce pure beauty like this.
*an ideal name for your penis, if you’re the type that names his penis.
- Author: Fletcher Hanks, Sr.