This book had been far out of the reach of my budget, but I found this copy at auction described as “cover reinforced.” That seemed to mean a 70% discount off guide, but upon close inspection upon receipt I’m not sure if it doesn’t actually means cover reattached with tape? My hope it is is professional archival tape but how do I really know?

FletcherHanks2Regardless of purchase details, with a publish date of March 1940 Fantastic Comics #4 is the oldest comic in my collection – and it is one of my favorites.  I mean check out the odd reptilian alien peering through the window and the damsel revealing just a hint of her garter belt on the cover. Acclaimed comic artist Lou Fine knew how to create drama. Publisher Fox Feature Syndicate further adds to the shtick with cover text pointing out the obvious “The mighty Samson demolishes the closing torture walls.”  Fantastic stuff indeed!

Inside contains two stories by the idiosyncratic Fletcher Hanks drawing and writing Space Smith in “Headless Men of the Gold Comet” and Stardust in “The Mad Giant Experimenter.”  To pass this off as just crude comic campiness would entirely miss the target.  This is more like a Rorschach test – but in reverse.  Instead of the psychiatrist showing an ink blot to a patient who projects his inner emotions onto it, here Fletcher becomes the patient as his inner tumult pours straight though ink onto the page tempting the reader to play the role of psychiatrist.