COMIC LEGEND: One of DC's Dial H for Hero superhero suggestions came courtesy of Harlan Ellison.
Dial H for Hero was a comic book feature that appeared in House of Mystery during the 1960s, where young Robby Reed finds a dial with H-E-R-O on it. When he dials "hero," he transforms into a different superhero each time.
Years later, during the early 1980s, DC decided to bring the character back. However, then-new DC publisher Jenette Kahn had a neat idea. She had worked on some magazines where the readers were compelled to send in suggestions for the magazine and their ideas would then appear in the magazine, much like how the comic book Katy Keene would contain reader designs for outfits for Keene (other similar comics did much of the same thing).
So Kahn suggested that DC do that with a comic book, and editor Len Wein decided that Dial H for Hero would be a great use of that idea.
Marv Wolfman was to be the writer. However, the book needed suggestions from readers and since the book had not yet come out, DC had to find a way to get suggestions.
So Wein and Wolfman asked fans at conventions, and also DC put out a big house ad for the concept...
The T-shirt turned out to be a major incentive for one writing icon in particular. The great Harlan Ellison asked Wolfman if he could have a "I Dialed H for Hero" T-Shirt, and Wolfman told him he could, provided he sent in a superhero or supervillain.
And, sure enough, in the first issue of their ongoing feature in Adventure Comics #479 (after a preview in Legion of Super-Heroes), one of the suggestions was by the great Ellison (and it was, indeed, a supervillain)...
Other notable contributors to the first Adventure Comics issue were famed comic book fan Rich Morrissey (Morrissey passed away about a decade ago. Click here to read about an interesting tribute Jim Shooter gave the well-respected fan)...
and a young Stephen De Stefano, who would years later work on a comic called Hero Hotline which a bit of a riff on the Dial H for Hero concept....
Thanks to Dewey Cassell and Marv Wolfman for the information, courtesy of Cassell's great article about Dial H for Hero in Back Issue #32. And thanks to reader Bryan S. for suggesting I feature this one.
Okay, that's it for this week!
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