Ah HENRY. He seems like he's always been there.

One never sought out the HENRY strip on the funny pages (when it was still on the funny pages that is). It was read after the favorites. It was read simply because it was there. The fact is, it was never good but it wasn't terrible either. Yet, we were compelled to see what the bald headed, ass-faced boy was up to that day. Similar to the FAMILY CIRCUS, which people love to hate because they really actually love it, People love to complain that HENRY is a lousy strip but they love Henry. Henry is hard not to like.

HENRY was a strip that was supposed to be contemporary but it never looked that way. There were almost no modern trappings. There may be cars or telephones but that's about it. It always seemed like Henry could always find the coal wagon, horse drawn ice delivery or a five cent ice cream cone. There were always shadings of nostalgia in the strip, even when it began in the depression. Part of that has to do with the fact that HENRY's creator, Carl Anderson, was already an old man in his late 60s when he created the character by accident.

Henry is autonomous in the SATURDAY EVENING POST strips. HENRY would not pick up a regular cast of characters, all with no proper names, only titles: the mother, the dog, the bully, the little girl, until it became a William Randolph Hurst comic strip. The SEP HENRY is similar in many ways to the LITTLE RASCAL/OUR GANG comedies of the same era. That is children free from the tyranny of an adult presence (mostly). Children navigating the world as best they can with the knowledge and experience they currently possess. Sometimes they get things right, often get things wrong, and frequently come up with solutions to problems unique to their limited experience. Necessity is the mother of invention with funny surprising results.

HENRY was the longest running of the many pantamime strips. Others include the LITTLE KING by Otto Soglo (1934-1975), FERD'NAND by Henning Dahl Mikkelsen's ("Mik") (1947-present), SILENT SAM by Oscar Jacobsson (1922-1955), LOUIE by Harry Hanan and BENNY by J. Carver Pusey. Although it could be said that HENRY is not a true pantomime strip, as the strip often features speaking characters, the star is always silent.

HENRY's replacement in the SATURDAY EVENING POST was LITTLE LULU by 'Marge' (Marjorie Henderson Buell) and first appeared February 23, 1935.
"Separated at birth?"
"Birds of a Feather"
"Henry doesn't mean any harm"
The cartoons and art drawn by Carl Anderson are believed to be in the public domain • The HENRY comic strip is © King Features Syndicate
The posting of this art is for scholarly and educational purposes • Commentary & Design © 2011 Art Baxter • All Rights Reserved