I am a huge fan of graphic novels, or comic books as we used to call them. When I first joined Microsoft Press, I remember pitching the idea of a Microsoft technology book done up as a graphic novel. My colleagues were very kind in their responses, then deftly steered the conversation on to other topics.

At another Seattle publishing house, Fantagraphics, they take their comic books a bit more seriously. Fantagraphics publishes beautiful editions covering the work of both contemporary graphic artists and those of a bygone, some would say, Golden era.

One of my favorites is a book called I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, which collects the works of Fletcher Hanks. Hanks produced comics for only a few years (1939-41) but was certainly one of the strangest and most creative of artists in his chosen medium. As modern master R. Crumb put it “Raw, powerful stuff… Fletcher Hanks was a twisted dude."

Here’s a sample in which Hanks’ superhero Stardust saves Earth from a plot to destroy the power of gravity and send every inhabitant flying into outer space. Except the arch-criminal Gypp Clipp and his gang who intend to chain themselves to the ground. Okay, the science hasn’t exactly stood the test of time, but it’s only a comic book.

 

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