Catching Up on Erich F.T. Schenk: An Artistic Curveball - Pink Flamingos

Catching Up on Erich F.T. Schenk: An Artistic Curveball

In doing some casual research on the artwork in our collection, I stumbled across an unexpected history of one of the artists, Erich F.T. Schenk. While his name is likely one that might not ring a bell for many, I'm hoping this blog helps to echo his story further. His artistic journey begins, surprisingly, in the world of animation and comics! As I explored his story, I couldn't help but be tickled pink by what I learned about this art chameleon.

Erich Frederich Theodore Schenk was born circa 1901 in Germany. Fast forward to the 1930s and he's all the way in Florida, where he worked his magic as a cartoonist and background artist. His early years were filled with adventures at Fleischer Studios, an animation powerhouse during the 1930s and 1940s. At Fleischer Studios, Schenk left an indelible mark by creating backgrounds for iconic animated shorts featuring beloved characters like Betty Boop and Popeye, not to mention the legendary 1939 feature film "Gulliver's Travels" (Sources:,

Personal note: when I was little, we had "Gulliver's Travels" recorded on VHS tape and my brother and I watched it over and over. I can still hear the various voices of the characters in my mind: Gulliver's soft bass, Gabby's shrill call of "all's well," and the classic soprano of Princess Glory.

Even more fascinating: in addition to his well-known animation background art, Schenk was also a graphic novelist and cartoonist. Between 1943 and 1944, Schenk stepped into the world of comic book storytelling, crafting quirky and lesser-known comics like 'Sleepin' Lena,' 'Silas Skinflint,' and 'Blowaway' for ACG comic books, Ha-Ha Comics, and Merry-Go-Round Comics. In 1944, he illustrated a children's book titled 'The Adventures of Salty Sam' by H. Virgil Wylie. What set his work apart was his uncanny ability to breathe life into anthropomorphic creatures with an unusual dose of realism. This lent his stories a distinctive, almost dreamlike quality that stood out in the world of comics.

In "Sleepin' Lena," the spotlight shines on a narcoleptic female cat who can't help but doze off on the job. The result? She hops from one job to another, often ending in dismissal because of her unexpected siestas. Her dreams, however, turn the narrative into a rollercoaster of imagination, occasionally dipping into the surreal and, at times, nightmarish. Check out this source to read through one of Sleepin' Lena's adventures, if you dare.

Now, here's where it gets really interesting. You'd think Schenk's cartooning would be enough, but he's also an artist of another kind–he painted flowers! Yes, a number of realistic, vibrant, and incredibly beautiful watercolor florals can be attributed to Schenk. The four beautiful prints we have of his in our collection are original lithographs of his masterpieces: "American Beauty Rose," "Luscious Tea Rose," "Sky Hibiscus," and "Peach Hibiscus," printed in 1947 by Catalda Fine Arts.


Schenk - American Beauty Rose
American Beauty Rose

Schenk - Luscious Tea Rose

Luscious Tea Rose

Schenk - Sky Hibiscus

Sky Hibiscus

Schenk - Peach Hibiscus

Peach Hibiscus

I had no memory of seeing these impressive prints in the Pink Flamingos warehouse as a child, likely due to their size and the fact that my parents had not chosen to put them up on display in our home. When I opened up the Schenk stock packages to photograph them last year, I was floored by their size, vibrant colors, and details. While I was disappointed that they didn't trigger the nostalgia that so many of our prints do for me, finding these prints was like discovering a hidden treasure.

These lithographs are a whopping 26 inches tall and 32 inches wide. They're bigger than your typical artwork, and they're like having a piece of a vibrant summer garden hanging on your wall. Each stroke tells a tale of nature's elegance, and they aren't just for looks; they are excellent conversation pieces!

The discovery of Schenk's ties to famous vintage cartoons led to a fun conversation with my dad, who—along with my momoriginally purchased all of the Pink Flamingos stock in the late 1970s and early 1980s. While he and my mom had selected the Schenk florals from Catalda's catalogue to add to Pink Flamingos' vintage inventory, he confessed to me that he was never much interested in these particular prints. His favorites are the retro tropicals, such as the Turner Flamingos. While he's not a big floral guy, he is a vintage graphic novel enthusiast. When I told him about Schenk, it was like lighting a spark! The vintage Hollywood and comics connection added a whole new layer of interest to these floral paintings. Who knew a chat about vintage watercolor roses could wind its way to anthropomorphic narcoleptic cats? Put one of our vintage Schenk floral lithographs on your dining room wall and you'll never have to worry about keeping a dinner party conversation going again!

When I told my dad about Schenk, it was like lighting a spark! The vintage Hollywood and comics connection added a whole new layer of interest to these floral paintings.

a page from Catalda's catalogue, 2
a page from Catalda's catalogue, 1Two pages from the Catalda Fine Arts catalogue showing the Schenk Florals, circa 1980.

Erich F.T. Schenk's story is like an art rollercoaster, and I'm here for the ride! His diverse journey, from the zany world of cartoons to the enchanting realm of florals, is a testament to the wonder of art. These gorgeous 1947 new vintage lithographs are for sale at Pink Flamingos - Rediscover Vintage Art, where you can step into an art time capsule and find something truly unique!

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