Created by Carl Anderson by sheer accident, Henry attained world-renowned status as one of the great pantomime comic strips in the tradition of Otto Soglow's The Little King.
At first, Henry spoke but a few words of dialogue, then Anderson decided to have him express himself through pantomime. Henry was so popular that it was often reprinted in the foreign press. In fact, it was because William Randolph Hearst saw a German translation of Henry in 1934 that he quickly signed Anderson into syndication with King Features Syndicate. The next year, the first Henry Sunday page appeared, and the silent little lad went on to star in a Fleischer Studios animated film and a book.
Today, King Features Syndicate continues to distribute the classic strip to approximately 75 newspapers.
Born in 1865, Carl Anderson had a long career in cartooning which dated from the early developmental days of the newspaper industry in the late 19th century. He freelanced cartoons to magazines such as Judge, Life, Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post and drew regular strips, including Raffles and Bunny and The Filipino and the Chick for the New York dailies.
Like many artists, Anderson switched jobs frequently, thanks to yellow journalism's frequent staff raids and the tendency of many newspapers of the day to fold. His big break didn't come until late in his career when he was 67 years old.
Hurt by the Depression, Anderson had moved back to his native Wisconsin in 1932 and took a job at a vocational school teaching cartooning. One night, as part of his lecture, he drew a potbellied, bald-headed kid and named him Henry. His students liked the little fellow, so Anderson sent some drawings off to the Saturday Evening Post. The magazine liked Henry, too, and on March 19, 1932, made the strip a regular weekly feature.
A number of artists, including Don Trachte and John Liney, and later Jack Tippet and Dick Hodgins, drew Henry after 1942, when arthritis prevented Anderson from drawing. Anderson died in 1948.
Eternally silent yet infinitely expressive, the pot-bellied, bald-headed little fellow strolls through life with his hands in his pockets and a cheery whistle on his lips. Henry loves candy, ice cream and Henrietta, not necessarily in that order. And occasionally, he enjoys running a sidewalk stand. Although he's usually good-natured and good-humored, Henry doesn't hesitate to give the bullies on the street a black eye if they give him any guff. He may be silent, but he always gets his point across!
A dog, a little fat guy and other walk-on characters mainly serve to advance the strip's action with brief dialogue and interaction with Henry.