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Buz Sawyer was a popular comic strip created by Roy Crane and highly regarded by comic strip historians. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, it had a long run from November 1, 1943 to 1989. The last strip signed by Crane was dated 21 April 1979.

During World War II, the adventurous John Singer Sawyer, nicknamed Buz Sawyer, flew as an ace Navy fighter pilot in the Pacific Theater where he had numerous adventures with his sidekick Sweeney. As a civilian in the post-WWII years, Buz became an oil company troubleshooter, traveling to far-flung locales. He married Christy Jameson on December 13, 1948, and their son Pepper was born in 1951. Buz rejoined the Navy in the 1950s and flew carrier-based reconnaissance attack jets over Vietnam during the 1960s.

Roy Crane was one of the innovators of the adventure comic strip. Wash Tubbs began in 1924 as a humorous story about the romantic adventures of Washington Tubbs, but increasingly Tubbs became involved in exciting adventures in exotic places. With the creation of the popular soldier of fortune Captain Easy in 1929, the strip became, along with Tarzan of the Apes and Buck Rogers, one of the first adventure strips. However, Crane was an employee of the Newspaper Enterprise Association syndicate, which owned the rights to the Tubbs and Easy characters. Crane approached King Features with an idea for a new strip, and when they offered him ownership, he abandoned Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy in 1943, giving full concentration to launching Buz Sawyer. Crane remembered the events this way:  buzz03
I drew Wash Tubbs until 1943, when I started drawing Buz Sawyer. It was during World War II, so I decided to make Buz a Navy pilot. It promised lots of action, and I also felt that I would be making a contribution to the war effort. Before actually starting the strip, and to insure authenticity, I did a great deal of research. I’ve always loved to travel, so I went to many different places in search of information that I could use in the strip; I even spent some time aboard an aircraft carrier. In addition, I gathered together a very large collection of Navy photographs to use as background material. Rosco Sweeney, who is now featured on the entire Sunday page, was Buz’s wartime buddy. He was also the gunner on the Navy bomber which Buz flew. After the war, I had Sweeney start an orange grove in Florida… the same as I did. I have no plans for bringing Buz into the Sunday page. Action is one of the most important elements in a strip. In fact, I feel that graphic pictorialization is the essence of the comic strip medium and that is what makes it a unique art form. When newspapers cut the size of the comic strip until there is no room left for anything but dialogue, then that will be the end of comics. Buz is conceived four weeks in advance. My collaborator, Hank Schlensker, finishes the layouts from my rough drawings. He works approximately one week behind me. I am also assisted by Al Wenzel and Edwin Granberry. I own the rights to the strip. The rendering of Buz Sawyer is done with Craftint; a technique pioneered in this strip as well as in Wash Tubbs. I have always been interested in trying new techniques, and I especially try to capture a three-dimensional quality in the strip.

Granberry began writing Buz Sawyer during the 1940s, continuing as the strip’s scripter until 1983. In 1946, 31-year-old Henry G. Schlensker, who had created Biff Baker with Ernest Lynn (1941–45), settled in Orlando, where he became Crane’s art assistant. An ulcer resulted in Crane’s retirement from the strip in the 1960s, but he continued to work closely with Granberry and Schlensker. After Crane’s death in 1977, Schlensker began signing the strip. The duo continued as a team until 1983. When they retired, John Celardo drew the daily until it was discontinued on October 7, 1989. Schlensker, who fought with the Army Air Corps in East Asia during World War II, died in 1997 at the age of 82. “He loved to draw, and he loved action. That strip was his whole life,” said his wife, Virginia Schlensker.

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Rosco Sweeney, who was Sawyer’s comic-relief sidekick, was the lead character of the Buz Sawyer Sunday strip, a comedy about rural and suburban life. Sweeney largely disappeared from the dailies after WWII. Beginning in the late 1940s, Crane assigned the writing and drawing chores for the Sunday strip to cartoonist Clark Haas, who was a pioneer jet pilot. Later, Al Wenzel did the Sunday strip, which Crane brought to a conclusion on May 19, 1974.

626 strips Dailies 1947
628 strips Dailies 1948
626 strips Dailies 1949

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3 Daily stories

D001 – War in the pacific
D002 – Island raids
D003 – Sultry

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3 Daily stories

D004 – Civilian life
D005 – Mr. Flint
D006 – Sultry’s tiger

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3 Daily stories

D007 – The mad baron
D008 – Salvaduras
D009 – Africa

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5 Daily stories

D010 – Vacation with Christy
D011 – Collins of the Caribbean
D012 – Harry Sparrow
D013 – Miss Freeze
D014 – The search for Buz

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5 Daily stories

D015 – The women in his life
D016 – The wedding present
D017 – African Honeymoon
D018 – Monkey business
D019 – Revolution

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5 Daily stories
1 Sunday story

D020 – Buz alone
D021 – Diana
D022 – William Shakespeare
D023 – Wish Jones
D024 – Little Ikky
5 strips Sunday various

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