Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dial "H" For Hero (part one)

Dial "H" For Hero was a fairly obscure DC Comics series created in 1965 about a teen-ager who found a magical gadget shaped like a rotary telephone that, when the letters H-E-R-O were dialed on it, would transform the user into a variety of superheroes. If this seems kinda similar to Ben 10 to you, you're not alone. Anyway, after a long dormancy, the strip was revived in 1981 with a new gimmick... now, the goofy contrived heroes (and villains) would be created by the readers. The winning contributors got t-shirts. I don't know off-hand how many if any of the winners ever worked in the comics industry, but there was a winning entry from famous comics dilletante Harlan Ellison. I wonder if he still has his shirt? I sat down at my grandmother's house one evening with pens, paper, and a copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and turned out a stack of submissions, none of which I ever bothered to send in. I know there were more than I now have, but I've got a few left with which to embarrass myself. Though, frankly, these characters aren't any lamer than, say, Shadowhawk. But here, you be the judge! I give you.... FIRESTARTER!

Okay, so the name's kind of lame....but in my defense, this was the dawn of the "grab the nearest noun and trademark it" era of superhero nomenclature, and I basically lived in bookstore, so Steven King titles were staring me in the face constantly (though I've never read the book or seen the movie). The costume's kind of a Gil Kane riff and I suspect that the stylized flames were intended as kind of Steve Ditko-ish.
Tomorrow: more of the same!

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