'The Flame' made his first appearance in Wonderworld Comics #03 (Fox Features) July 1939. He continued to appear until the final issue (#33) in January 1942. He also appeared in his own publication for eight issues, between January 1940 to June 1942.
'The Flame's' secret identity is Gary Preston. When Gary was a baby, his father Charteris Preston worked as a missionary in China. Charteris Preston was washed away in a flood, but managed to save baby Gary by placing him in a basket. The basket was washed downstream to Tibet, where Gary was rescued by a group of lamas. They raised Gary, where they trained him in their mystical ways. When he reached adulthood, Gary returned to America to fight crime as 'The Flame.'
Thanks to his training, 'The Flame' has the ability to control fire and heat. He can raise his own body temperature to the point where he can burst into flames, or melt bullets. He can control and direct any flame in his presence. He can also teleport from place to place by appearing inside of any fire source, no matter the size. 'The Flame's' one weakness is water, which can severely weaken him.
It should be noted that he actually appeared in publication before 'The Human Torch'.
In Wonderworld Comics #30 (October 1941) 'The Flame' was joined by a female sidekick, 'Flame Girl' who was secretly his girlfriend Linda Dale, who was given similar powers by 'The Flame' when Gary Preston was injured and feared he would die. He recovered and they continued fighting crime as a duo.