Wednesday 15 December 2010

At last - a hero like no other!

As you can see, today's picture is a lovely blank sheet of paper. Well, they say there's nothing to stimulate the imagination quite like nothingness, and this blank sheet certainly did that.

You see, it's no ordinary blank sheet. It comes from the inside back cover of Spider-Man Comics Weekly #50 and was produced for a competition they were running for readers to create a super-hero. As I mentioned in my review of that comic, a few months back; Reader, I entered the competition. Long and hard did I labour, for what must've been all of an hour, and when I'd finished, that blank sheet was filled by a character to send chills down the spine of any wrong-doer.

The Masked Manhunter.

The Masked Manhunter was like no hero you'd ever seen before. In fact he was like four heroes you'd seen before. He had a name taken from a not-at-all obscure DC hero of the time and a costume identical to the Black Panther's except he had boots like Captain America, a cape like everyone and carried a handgun. Strapped to one of his thighs was a pistol holster. Strapped to the other was a Fray Bentos tin.

Now, as I can see no possible reason for a super-hero to carry a meat pie into battle, I'm sure that, at the time, I didn't intend it to be a pie tin, but exactly what it was meant to be, I don't have a clue.

It's at this point I feel I should impress you by revealing the Masked Manhunter so wowed the editorial staff at Marvel UK that he won first prize, and so my career in comic books took its first step towards making me the industry giant I am today.

Sadly, despite his pie tin, the Masked Manhunter was never heard of again and my career in comic books only lasted until I once tried to draw one for my own amusement and gave up after three panels. The thing I soon discovered is that thinking up stories is a lot more fun than drawing them.

As for the contest; after all these years, all I remember is that one of the finalists was a creature called Anthracite - a monster made of living coal. I assume this meant he had all the powers of coal. Quite what the powers of coal are I'm not too sure. I suppose if it was a bit nippy you could set fire to him to keep warm but then he'd give off unheroic amounts of smoke; whereas a hero called Coalite - as those of us who grew up during the 1970s' power cuts could tell you - would've given off virtually no smoke at all. Then again, there were always the insane fire-hazard powers of Paraffin Heater Man.

Regardless of all speculation of heroes created in response to power cuts, this leads me to one question; Have you ever invented a super-hero? I'd especially like to hear from you if you were the child behind the might of Anthracite the living coal man. Even though I like to think Anthracite would've been helpless before the power of the Masked Manhunter, I'd still love to hear from you.


Simon B said...

My entry in the "Marvel Artist Competition" was the mighty Cobalt Man*.
(Obviously no relation to the existing Marvel character, also known as Cobalt Man *cough!*)According to my description, he "wears a special cobalt suit, has super-strength, a brilliant mind and can fly at 50 mph!" That's pretty fast, I can tell you! He also seemed to wear some kind of welding-goggles/bucket combo on his head.

*Well, I say "entry" but I didn't actually send it off. Maybe the world wasn't yet ready for the majesty of Cobalt Man :-)

I used to write and draw a lot of comics when I was a kid, all "inspired" by various Marvel characters like the X-Men, Star-Lord, Doctor Strange etc. etc. Very few of these masterpieces got much beyond the cover and the first 2 or 3 pages. I might have to post some of them at The Glass Walking-Stick some time. You have been warned.....

Steve said...

I definitely want to see them, cerebus.

I think my mistake when it came to drawing my own comic strip was I insisted on trying to draw in the style of Neal Adams, which took forever. I should have gone for something simpler but the Kree/Skrull War had warped my mind.

My other mistake was, whenever I wanted to name something, I just got the name of whatever it was and wrote it backwards, so I'd get an alien race called the Sllurks flying around in a star-ship called The Pihs-Rats. I bet Marvel are kicking themselves for rejecting me.

Simon B said...

LOL! After reading the Sise-Neg/Genesis story in Doctor Strange my mind was equally warped, and I've been reading words "sdrawkcab" ever since!

"pihsrats" is one of my faves, too! Oh, and I also like "krap rac"! :-)

Anonymous said...

I remember Anthracite! It was just a tiny little picture, but I do recall the artwork being fairly impressive.

I used to draw comics as a youngster - figure it might be time to quit when I co-created the mighty Lightning Man, and signed it "Gil Kane"...making sure that every second panel was a close-up shot up someone's nose.

B Smith

Steve said...

I too had a period of being obsessed with drawing up people's noses, Gil Kane style. People might knock his affectation but it clearly inspired a whole generation of budding artists.