Thursday, December 21, 2017

It's Not Easy Being Biff

Thursday Story Strip Day.

In my collection of unscanned forties adventure strips was a black and white rarity. So for today I prepared a long run of them. Henry Lee was the pseudonym of artist Hank Schlensker. According to the Lambiek comiclopedia he had been in the Air Corps in East Asia. I believe I have seen his name in my collection of war strips, so I'l have a look. He drew Biff Baker from 1941 to 1946 (although some sources say 1945, this run proves otherwise) and went on to become the assistant to Roy Crane's Buzz Sawyer. Eventually he even took over the strip (with one Edward Cranberry) when Crane died in 1974. I do see the Crane influence, but it looks more to me like either Schlensker was assisting Walt Scott on the Captain Easy Sundays or Scott was assisting on Biff. In that same stack of unscanned adventure strips from the forties is two years of Scott's Easy, but I can add one I prepared earlier to show the connection.

This is not the first time I shared some of these, so I have added those of the first post to make a loooong Christmas special out of it. two yhings we learn from those: first of all, there was a color version, eventhough all my new scans are black and white. Secondly, the Walt Scott resemblance doesn't start until the 1945 samles, whoch makes it more possible that Scott first assisted on Biff Baker, before going to Easy.

Thirdly, the last (color) one I had, comes immediately after my last black and white one. And although we have creeped into 1946, this does not seem like to end of the story.



comicstripfan said...

Ger: You are probably aware of this story but for those who aren’t: Ron Goulart in the Introduction to “The Adventurous Decade”: “…Henry Lee. There was no such person, but if I hadn’t written this book I’d never have found that out...after [it] was published…I…attended Jim Ivey’s annual Orlandocon. At the lunch for guests I was seated next to Leslie Turner and we were discussing my book. I asked him if he knew whatever became of Henry Lee. Turner nodded across the table to Hank Schlensker and asked him, ‘That’s you, isn’t it?’ Schlensker admitted that he had been the artist on ‘Biff Baker, USA.’ He was the Henry of the pen name and NEA comics editor Ernest ‘East’ Lynn, who wrote the pages, was the Lee part.”

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Nice to know. IThe NEA connection also explains how Walt Scott could have filled in at various points.