Thursday, November 26, 2020

Number 2473: Thanksgiving Turkey Award: Stardust!

It is the day of the American Thanksgiving, the holiday gathering, with food, on the last Thursday of November. Sorry, nothing to eat here. The annual turkey award is only for the silliest, or most stupid or awesomely oddball comic book story I have seen this year.

I picked an example of what made Fletcher Hanks one of the most screwball comic book men of all time. His stories are trippy, and his artwork just plain weird. Stardust lives on a planet and watches what goes on in our solar system so he can get the criminals. Get them he does, usually with a bizarre and vengeful punishment.

For this particular story, taken from Fantastic Comics #12 (1940), Stardust rescues a woman who remains nameless throughout the story. Artist Fletcher Hanks has made Stardust much bigger than the only other people, a villain, Kaos, and the no-name girl. Stardust’s head is twice human size, even though in a couple of head and shoulders panels his head looks tiny! Still, he and the girl seem to have a physical attraction. “Would you like to come to my private star for awhile?” asks Stardust, a real smooth talker. She agrees.

Hanks’s artwork is always unusual. He breaks whatever comic book laws there are in depicting super people in flight. Hanks’s decision in this story is to show Stardust’s body from a birds-eye view of his back while flying. Hanks didn’t need to draw Stardust’s face.
Considering the body of his work in the early days of comic book, it is almost too easy to name a Fletcher Hanks story the award winner. But, he gets the prize. I give this story 3 and 1/2 turkeys.

Here is the Stardust story from Fantastic Comics #1. Just click on the thumbnail.

Go to the Turkey Award winner for last year. Links will take you eventually back to the first entry, from 2006.


Uncle Ernie said...

This style of coloring is typical for that era in comics; but in a Hanks story, with so many areas of broad flat shapes, the weirdness of the art style gets amplified. I also find the texture of the lettering on the pages fits the art.

Arben said...

I've seen enough Fletcher Hanks the past few years that as soon as my eyes took in the post title and the panel just below, I said to myself, "Self," I said, "This is gonna be weird, Self." And it did not disappoint. I hereby express my post-Thanksgiving gratitude for your blog once again, Pappy.

Brian Barnes said...

A couple things about Hanks that I always find interesting is how disconnected some panels *seem* to be, while they obviously are not. It's a complete story, it reads as one, but it's like all this stuff happens between panels and it's as if each panel before the last just fades away. It's hard to explain, there's a weird disconnect in his writing.

And it's not helped by how completely minimalist he is in speech balloons. I normally complain when there's too much text but everything is so plainly descriptive!

And the colors. The bright, eye-shattering colors.

I love it all!

Pappy said...

Arben and Brian, I encountered Fletcher Hanks for the very first time when in 1960 I saw a 1940 Fiction House comic with Hanks's "artwork." I thought the drawing was stiff and amateurish, and the coloring was strange to my 1960 eyes. Considering the short time Hanks worked in comics he has become a cult figure. Go figure! And over the years I gradually became a member of the cult.

Pappy said...

Uncle Ernie, In the very early years of comic books often it was someone who worked for the engraver doing the coloring. Or if it was done by a staff member that anonymous person was not into subtlety, just flat colors. It gives it the feeling of that era, though, so I like it.

Or maybe it was colored by Hanks, who I'm reasonably sure also did his own lettering.