Did Fletcher Hanks trace Fantomah?
March 7, 2011 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Did Fletcher Hanks trace the face of Fantomah sometimes? If so, who was it?

This caught my eye when I read through I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets! and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! the first time, and after re-reading them it's really bugging me. In certain scenes that feature Fantomah, she looks so unlike every other character Hanks drew that I swear he didn't create her look. A couple more examples: 1, 2. Hanks obviously traced other characters, but those were from other characters he already created (and almost always men). Those examples look to me like he traced a photograph. She has a kind of Golden Age of Hollywood look, very familiar but I can't put a name to the face. Anyone recognize who she is?
posted by cog_nate to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't say with certainty who it is, but yes, he definitely traced or at least used photo reference to an amazing degree with Fantomah. This is borne out by the fact that she always has the same head (when she's not all skully). I should mention that he used different models sometimes so in at least one drawing she's clearly Marlene Dietrich, but where he got the photo he constantly uses for Fantomah (bow lips, looking to the side serenely), I could not say. I kind of think Mae West but I'm not certain.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:33 PM on March 7, 2011

I think she looks a lot like Jean Harlow, and plenty of photo references would have been available when Hanks was creating this masterpiece. For that matter, being that so many reference sources were available (movie magazines) who's to say Fantomah isn't a composite of the facial features Hanks found most appealing? Except when she reverts to her skull-face...then she resembles Lon Chaney in Phantom Of The Opera.
posted by motown missile at 10:54 PM on March 7, 2011

It seems pretty likely, but I couldn't tell you exactly who. Marlene seems the likeliest answer.

I only just found this series of Karasik talks at The Strand so I've only watched a part of the first "episode" - he's not an amazing or particularly compelling speaker but Karasik says Fantomah looks "like Jean Harlow or something".

Also check out my badass (not-quite-finished) tattoo on my profile page)
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:23 PM on March 8, 2011

Actually, going through my copies of the books, motown (and Karasik) seem righter than I do - it's more likely Jean than Marlene.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:24 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: Hm, yeah I can see Marlene Dietrich, but she doesn't seem to have been the primary model. I can kind of see the resemblance to Jean Harlow, but I'm not convinced Hanks used her as his model.
posted by cog_nate at 3:49 PM on March 19, 2011

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