SOCKAMAGEE! The clever concept gets its day in the sun…
By PETER BOSCH
On November 18, 1965, House of Mystery #156 (cover-dated Jan. 1966) introduced us to teenager Robby Reed, who discovered in a cavern a glowing device that resembled a telephone dial (remember those?) that he thought could possibly be of alien nature or from another dimension.
Translating the 10 symbols upon it, he learned that if he dialed what translated as H-E-R-O, he would be transformed into a new superhero and by dialing the letters in reverse, O-R-E-H, he would return to Robby. What he didn’t know was that each time (mostly), he would become a different superhero. Some were fun, some were downright wacky, as you will see from the covers below. On other occasions, someone else used the dial’s letters V-I-L-L-A-I-N to become a bad guy, and Robby’s friend Suzy used it to dial H-E-R-O-I-N-E to transform into Gem Girl.
The Dial H for HERO series was primarily written by Dave Wood, with art by Jim Mooney, and ran in House of Mystery #156 through #173 (Mar.-Apr. 1968), after which the comic book title reverted to being a horror comic book.
The original dial, or variations of it, would go through a number of hands over the years, as recently as 2020. DC’s website in 2021 listed all the characters that came from this — more than 300 so far — and you can find the roster here.
Meanwhile, here are 13 COVERS from the initial run, all with art by the great Jim Mooney:
MORE From PETER BOSCH
— 13 COVERS: A DON NEWTON Birthday Celebration. Click here.
— A STEVE DITKO Birthday Salute: 13 TALES OF THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER. Click here.
PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Page, has just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.
November 18, 2022
LOVED ‘Dial H for HERO!’ I assume I still have all of the issues. That was before I was worried that every comic had to be handled and saved with care. I can still see myself finding a back issue or two at the one place in town that had some back issues of comics loose. Even found the Marvel B&W mag PUSSYCAT #1 there. Had been unaware of it.
Stupid me told the guy about Overstreet when it came out! Doh! He didn’t have anything great then anyhow, but that was a mistake. I’m sure he would have found out sooner or later that comcis were now a ‘thing.’ They moved from a convenience store to a small old wooden building and sold used books, eight-track tapes and comics. Rarely found any good issues cheap after that.
November 18, 2022
Sockamagee! What an article! (Though I will be honest in that I’m more partial to the 80’s “Adventure Comics” Dial-H revival!)
November 19, 2022
LOL! Love it! I read some of the stories in the early 70s when they were reprinted in (I think) Superboy! And I always thought Cometeer was cool!!