Buz mops the floor with his foes, from a 1948 daily strip. Artist: Roy Crane.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1943
Creator: Roy Crane
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In 1946, Milton Caniff made a huge splash by abandoning the comic strip he was famous for, Terry & the Pirates, in favor of …

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… a new creation, Steve Canyon, because he wanted to own the strip he worked on. But he wasn't the first cartoonist to make such a move — a few years earlier, Roy Crane had done the same, leaving Wash Tubbs to create Buz Sawyer.

The parallels don't stop there. Terry and Tubbs were both little guys with big sidekicks to do the fighting, whereas Canyon and Sawyer were both full-fledged heroes who gained military experience during World War II. Terry and Tubbs both had fabulous adventures in exotic parts of the world, whereas Canyon's and Sawyer's world-spanning exploits were more down-to-earth. Sawyer adventured as a bachelor for years before marrying Christy Jameson; and much later Canyon married Summer Olsen.

And finally, although Canyon and Sawyer both long outlasted their creators' stints on their earlier strips, both cartoonists were better known, all their lives, for their pre-war work. But the strips they created in their mature years are also very, very good — in fact, Buz Sawyer was good enough to land its creator the National Cartoonists' Society's Reuben Award for 1950.

John "Buz" Sawyer started out (on Nov. 1, 1943) as a Navy fighter pilot in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. When the war ended, he, like most men of his generation, found it difficult to adjust to postwar life. Eventually, tho, he found a job that offered scope for adventure. After that, it was a long succession sheiks and mercenaries and pirates all the other adversaries you find in rip-snortin' adventure yarns, interrupted by occasional bouts of marital bliss with Christy. Later on, he rejoined the Navy, and his adventuring took a more patriotic turn.

During the war, Buz had a comic-relief sidekick named Roscoe Sweeney. Afterward, Roscoe was seen only occasionally in the dailies, but was the star of the Sunday strip. He'd settled into a comfortable suburban situation, and the strip consisted mainly of Blondie-like gags about his life in the neighborhood. From the late 1940s on, cartoonists other than Crane, first Clark Haas and later Al Wenzel, handled the Sunday strip.

Ed Granberry signed on as an assistant to Crane in 1944, and Hank Schlensker in 1946. Eventually, they were handling most of the scripting and art, respectively, with Crane functioning mainly as supervisor. Even then, tho, there were uncredited ghosts — one of whom, Clark Haas, went on to the dubious achievement of creating Clutch Cargo Granberry and Schlensker began signing the strip in 1977, when Crane died. Both retired in the '80s, and John Celardo, who had succeeded Burne Hogarth on Tarzan and later Joe Kubert on Tales of the Green Berets, took it over. The strip ended in 1989.

Buz Sawyer pretty much stayed in its original venue — there were no movies, TV shows and only one Big Little Book. It didn't even get into comic books, other a few reprints from Dragon Lady Press or in Comics Revue magazine. But within the realm of daily adventure strips, it's still considered one of the best.


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Text ©2000-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Estate of Roy Crane.