Den McHenry

A Real Hero for the 90s

Back in 1992 I was a high school sophomore with a reputation as a cartoonist, drawing caricatures of teachers, bizarre little adventures featuring a certain odd friend as an anthropomorphic rat, stick figures making epically improbable dunks, or dragons and elves (through, strangely, I have never in my life played Dungeons and Dragons).

One day in math class a kid named Dylan complemented a drawing I was working on (I think it was a gnomish sort of monster or something) and we got to talking about comic books. I hadn't been a fan of superheroes in some time, sticking mainly to MAD magazine (Mort Drucker seemed like a god) and a couple of war comics, ranging from the goofy -- G.I. Joe -- to the gritty -- the 'Nam, in addition to forgotten gems like Wild Dog. In fact, I'd almost stopped reading comics entirely. He suddenly became a great promoter of comics and artists I had never paid attention to, or in some cases had never heard of, and chief among them was Rob Liefeld.

Say what you will (and you probably will) but Liefeld was a hero to countless kids and probably had more to do with furthering comics than anyone of his generation. All those kids are all grown up now, some making comics, many still reading them. It's unfortunate that his impact coincided with the speculator boom, and that he took the rap for getting caught up in the excess that so many fueled and fed into. He's taken too much abuse (except for his awful Captain America — he deserved that). But I digress.

Dylan insisted that I check out Liefeld's work on X-Force, and it felt like a life changing event. The two of us quickly collaborated on a superhero called the Slide, though I think the credit should go completely to Dylan. As I think back every detail came from him, and I distinctly recall myself objecting to his most important device: the hovering skateboard. He's the damned Slide! How else is going to SLIDE? But I never got into that skateboarding fad.

So without further ado, here's my initial design for our creation:

The Slide (Lay/McHenry)
The Slide, Lay/McHenry 1992

The resemblance to Shaft (of Liefeld's Youngblood) wasn't intentional. Those things on his forearms conceal blades, and if you'll notice I put buttons on the tops. I remember that being a point of some debate. Pushing a button just didn't seem right, and he didn't have powers like telekinesis. His wealthy benefactor (who was also a scientist, natch) must've wired them to his neural pathways (?!) ... or something.

I didn't stick with the Image gang for long, branching out into other things, but it was an important time.

Oh. But I did contribute something significant to this: the villains. You might think that these were just throw-away sketches (and maybe they were), but just to watch my own back I'm claiming copyright on Lame Guy X and Super Lame Guy X, seen in faint pencils in the margin.

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