Comic Collection Review: Henry Speaks for Himself by John Liney

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We reach once again into the Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives to bring forth another rare comic classic for you.  This time we look at the classic comic character Henry by Carl Anderson.  Now it may seem confusing that the title says John Liney and now I am saying Carl Anderson, but stay with me here.  Carl Anderson is the man who invented Henry, a pantomime character which started out in the Saturday Evening Post and then joined King Features for a daily comic strip, this collection, however is taken from the Henry comics published by Dell during the 40’s and 50’s.

In this version of Henry, he is no longer the pantomime strip from the great depression, he is a little better off economically but the nostalgia of the old comic era still hangs over the comic making it seem as though it was still from his former era.

John Liney kept much of the Henry mythology intact, while introducing more modern convenience items, Henry still keeps his depression era roots in many of the characters and their style of dress as well as the anachronisms which creep into the comic, which would have been a thing of the past even in the 1940’s.

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Henry is a simple minded good fellow who seems to go about life in a playful fantasy.  We are often taken into a dream world or a fictional story within a story which transplants the protagonist into the stone age or some other point in history for a short span.

I remember seeing Henry comics as a kid, but was never really drawn to them, they seemed a little too simplistic in their structure and lacked the appeal of the superhero comics which flooded the market in my youth.  Henry was one of the comics like Richie Rich or Archie comics which I would occasionally pick up, but usually passed over in favor of something more modern.

The only real fault of Henry is that he is an anomaly lost in time.  He never changed with the times to update the character in anyway.  Archie comics and Richie Rich have seen many attempts to reboot or update the material, but Henry just plugged along in his depression era simplicity and is overlooked by most comic enthusiasts.

What can I say about Henry?  He is a product of his time, but in a good way.  You don’t see the typical racial or sexist stereotypes of his day in his strip because that was not what Henry was about.  He was the good natured simpleton and I guess he always will be.

The book has quite an interesting introduction detailing the history of John Liney’s involvement in the comic and the legacy of Henry comics in general, so for that alone the book is well worth the money.  You can pick up a used copy pretty cheap as I did or even brand new it’s around $20 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Henry-Speaks-Himself-John-Liney/dp/1606997335?ie=UTF8&keywords=Henry%20speaks%20for%20himself&qid=1465492599&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

It is worth checking out if you are interested in comics from the depression era, or even just interested in comic history.  The stories are imaginative and very well drawn and written.  There really is no bad here other than it is a product of it’s time.  It will transport you to a simpler time with a character of a simpler mind.  So until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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