Developing

'Superhobo' Comic Book Hero Helps Homeless

An unusual comic book hero has hit the streets of Berlin as part of an attempt to highlight the plight of the city's homeless.

The superhero in Superhobo - Superpenner in German - has many of the usual features you would expect to find in a caped crusader: large muscles, a cloak and his underpants on the outside of his trousers.

But his torn bodysuit, bedraggled appearance and bottle of beer hint at his life on the streets. The slogan of the comic proclaims: "His muscles are firm, but he has no fixed abode."

It was launched on Monday as a free supplement in the Strassenfeger (Street Sweeper) in an attempt to boost its circulation. The newspaper is sold by the homeless, the unemployed and poor immigrants.

Superhobo gets his powers by accident when an intern at a secret service lab gives him a bottle of mysterious green liquid which "looks like a urine sample" by mistake.

Downing a beer gives him superhuman strength, and along with his sidekick "Gutter Girl" they take on "The Baddies". The hero sleeps on a bench in his woollen hat, dreaming of beer. The people he rescues gag at his bad breath.

When Superhobo is close to defeat "Convenience Store Man", who has a moustache and a Turkish flag, saves the day by providing him with a cold brew.

Behind the humour there is a serious message to the comic. The posters advertising it read: "Not every hobo is a Superhobo". People are encouraged to buy the paper or donate via its website.

Robert Krause, creative director of advertising agency Scholz & Friends and the man behind the comic, said: "The important thing is that people buy the comic, because we want to help the homeless simply by increasing their sales and generating more donations."

Unemployed kitchen worker Daniela, who would not give her surname, has been selling the Strassenfeger at a train station in the centre of Berlin for two years.

The 40-year-old gets to keep 90 cents (74p) of every copy she sells, which costs 1.50 euros (£1.24). She said the comic is "just a bit of fun" and seemed to be good for business.

Frank Henseler, who was visiting Berlin on business, said: "The comic is interesting and I'd like to have a look, and I happen to be reading a book right now about homeless people in Paris."

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.