by Rev. Ivan Stang
(reprinted from The Happy Mutant Handbook, 1995. Illustration by Jim Woodring.)
The giant Stanislav Szukalski's footsteps shall reverberate like thunder when his spirit finally strides through the great Fringe Hall of Fame to take his rightful place upon the Throne of the King of all Kook Geniuses.
Like many geniuses, but very few kooks, the late Szukalski displayed the extremes of both -- but his genius lay in art, and his kookdom in science, and the two just don't mix. What makes him an astoundingly original artist is also what makes him, as a scientist, possibly the most tragically misguided visionary megalomaniacal crackpot ever... the ultimate embittered, misunderstood, defeated, ignored, broke, could-have-been Savior of the World. And boy, could he rant about it.
Szukalski's work is represented today by only one book still in print, the profusely illustrated Behold!!! The Protong. This astonishing oversize tome offers a compressed summary of all mankind's secret history, the truth behind all religions, the forbidden wisdom of the ages, the key to translating every language, and the reason for every, human tragedy, all detailed in a raving, floridly vehement style accompanied by hundreds of illustrations of archaeological "evidence," drawn and earth-shatteringly interpreted by Szukalski himself. And this large book is but the most pared-down glimpse into Szukalski's teachings; he wrote and illustrated 39 unpublished volumes on his amazing self-invented all-inclusive one-man science called Zermatism.
Like the best kooks, Szukalski indulges in no false modesty. He repeatedly reminds us that he is the one true genius who has unraveled the secrets of the universe, and everybody else is an intellectual cockroach by comparison. As he humbly puts it, "I have made the greatest discoveries that a human was ever capable of."
But this guy was no sorry little Francis E. Dee-style racist cranking out crappy mimeographed flyers. He really was a genius in a world full of morons. What makes him unique is that no other twisted, demented visionary drew and sculpted this well. Szukalski's graphic style is a truly electrifying blend of the sublimely classical and the grotesquely cartoonish -- insanely melodramatic, like Nazi or Red Chinese propaganda posters were they executed by Robert Williams.
Contrasting with the art, Szukalski's writiting is a perfect example of the classic, time-honored, frantic top-of-the-lungs FREQUENT ALL-CAPS KOOK STYLE. It's somewhat reminiscent of the great Dr. Bronner of soap bottle fame, or like a terminally sarcastic and peripatetically enraged Charles Fort -- had English been Fort's second language.
Szukalski was born in Poland in 1893, the son of a blacksmith, a prodigy in sculpture who had his first art exhibition at age 14. His family emigrated to America, where the young genius became a rising star among the Chicago intelligentsia, celebrated by the likes of Carl Sandburg, Ben Hecht, and Clarence Darrow. A book of his art was published in 1923. A celebrity (for the time being), he returned to Poland in 1936 hailed as that nation's "greatest living artist." He even had his own museum, but it was destroyed by Nazi bombs ... and on top of that, he was "betrayed" by the Polish government which confiscated his remaining sculptures. He fled to Los Angeles, there to become the definitive forgotten, embittered nobody.
However, even though he worked alone, with no academic training whatsoever in any field of science, he toiled on and on with his studies -- eventually discovering the actual history of the world, his own version of nuclear physics, how planets are created, and the reasons for all wars and bad people.
His most important discovery (realized from studying such diverse artifacts as Greek vases and Sumerian bas-reliefs) was that throughout history, Yetis or Abominable Snowmen -- "Bigfoots" in the New World -- have been tainting the pure and noble human stock, producing a half-breed race which today includes all evildoers, politicians, throwback hillbillies, and those with short legs and/or a pug nose. The Pan figures inscribed on Greek vases, for instance, are actually the species of large apes that raped human women.
"The fact that humans have syphilis is due to rapes by these Pans, and all the wart-nosed Greek philosophers, the pot-bellied, waddling pygmoids, were actually descendants of such interspecies bastardy ... It is of the utmost importance to know that our Human Destiny is afflicted with the greatest calamities (like the two World Wars) because our HUMAN female ancestors were raped by the Apes, the Yetis, the Sasquatches, and our male forefathers copulated with female anthropoids."
One may spot these treacherous Yetisyny by their longish arms, extended upper lips, undercut noses, and short legs. (All of which, ironically, happen to apply to Szukalski's own physique!) All unattractive people, insecure people, and bullies are Yetisyny who, because they cannot be loved by a human (being sort of ugly), overcompensate by becoming crazed evil geniuses, ferocious gangsters, rude clerks, or crafty fomenters of bloody revolutions.
Obviously, Szukalski was not fond of the Yeti half-breeds who surrounded him, but he thought there was a place for them; he would have them spew their "animal vitality" in the art world where they excel. But, he exhorted, if they enter politics, they should be exterminated ... before they call all misfits together, to be united!
Scorned and ignored by everyone else, Szukalski's theories are granted credence by only one organized group: The Church of the SubGenius. And even then, the orthodox SunGenii believe that Szukalski has everything completely backwards -- that, while he was brilliant enough to uncover the great suppressed secret -- that interbreeding between humans and Abominable Snowmen had produced all the problems of the world -- he was yet deleuded enough to think it was the YETI race that was the avaricious destructive one! (Why is it that even the greatest among us fall prey to self-hatred? For Szukalski himself is the perfect example of the Yetisyn, that crazed, manic, lusty half-breed between Sasquatch and man. Yet he is blinded to the most painfully obvious conclusion to which his discoveries lead!!)
Before he died (in 1987) I actually got to meet the great man, and, as a representative of the Church of the SubGenius, I posed to him that very question: Could not he himself be the perfect example of a Yetisyn, and might the Yetinsyny not, after all, be the victims of the evil humans, rather than vice versa?
True to Yetinsyn form, he brushed me off like I was some utter crackpot.