Henry Carl Kiefer was born April 15, 1890 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was Daniel Kiefer a clothing merchant from Ohio, whose parents were German immigrants. His mother was Rosa Danziger of Indiana, whose parents were also German immigrants. They married in 1888. He was their first born. They had three sons, Henry, Abraham, and Daniel, and one daughter, Marian. The family was moderately prosperous. They lived at 3596 Wilson Avenue with three live-in servants.
He became interested in art while in high school, so he took weekend art classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
In 1908 after graduating high school he spent the summer traveling in Europe to visit art museums and relatives.
After he returned to his family home in Cincinnati he worked as a clerk at a clothing business that was connected with his father's career.
In 1910 he was permitted to give up work in the clothing business and move to Chicago to study at the Chicago Art Students League, where he met Dean Cornwell. While in Chicago he was also active in amateur theatrical productions.
In 1915 he continued his art training in Wilmington, Delaware, where he studied with Howard Pyle's former student, Frank Schoonover, who was carrying on after his teacher's unexpected death in 1911. While in Wilmington he also met and studied with Gayle Porter Hoskins. He lived on Grubb Road in Arden, Delaware, just northwest of Wilmington. Along with his studies he also worked as an artist in Philadelphia and in Arden.
In 1917 he was drafted to serve in the Army during the Great War. On his enlistment papers he claimed exemption from military service on the grounds of being a conscientious objector who was opposed to war and conscription. This suggests his family may have been Quakers, as were many German families in Ohio. Nevertheless he served in France with the Allied Expeditionary Forces from June 1917 until April 1918.
After the Great War he lived with his brother Daniel at 329 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, PA, where at that time his brother was studying art and struggling to sell paintings from his home art studio.
In 1922 he returned to Europe to visit Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Algiers. While in Paris he took a class at the Academie Julian, which was a popular school because of its traditionally free-spirited environment.
While in Paris he met, fell in love with, and married Marquise Aline Marie De Kerosett (nee Myrtale), a French lyric soprano who was born in Madagascar in 1890. Both of her parents were French Colonials serving in French East Africa.
They returned to the U.S. in 1925. At first they lived with his brother Abraham, Abraham's wife, and their widowed mother Rosa at 403 Takoma Avenue in Takoma Park, Maryland. They soon moved to NYC, where he bought a wooden-frame three-story single family home at 3370 Fort Independence Street in the Bronx, NY. They lived there together for the rest of their lives. They had no children.
His wife was an active professional. She had studied at the Paris Conservatoire, and she had formally sung with the French Opera Company in Paris, where she appeared in Figaro, Manon, La Boheme, and Madame Butterfly. She had served in the Red Cross during WWI and had been wounded and gassed. After several years of recuperation she finally resumed her career in New York area recitals. She frequently sang on WGL radio station in NYC, as well as several classical music venues, such as the Carnegie Chamber Music Hall.
In 1928 he illustrated the novel, The Story of a Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey.
In 1933 he illustrated a children's book written by his wife, Friends in My Garden, published by Christopher Publishing House.
During the 1930s he worked as a staff artist at an advertising agency at 101 West 46th Street, which was run by Adolphe Barreaux. The agency created newspaper advertisements, educational film strips, and they supplied black and white pen and ink story illustrations for pulp magazines, such as Saucy Movie Tales, Thrilling Adventures, and New Mystery Adventures. Some of the other artists that worked with Barreaux were Paul H. Stone, Max Plaisted, Joe Szokoli, and Jay McArdle. They also supplied art for many of the earliest comic books, such as New Fun Comics, New Adventure Comics, and New Comics. He drew art for comics on a freelance basis for other comic shops, such as Chelser Studio, Funnies, Inc., Fiction House, Fox Comics, Harvey Comics, Iger Studio, DC Comics, and Sangor.
In 1935 he contributed to issue #2 of New Fun Comics using his wife's maiden name as a pseudonym "Henry Dekerosett."
He did not serve in WWII, because he was fifty-three years old as well as a veteran of WWI.
In 1947 he began to work for Classics Illustrated Comics. He went on to contribute art to thirty-four different issues of this comic book, for which he has become most renowned.
His last published works were 1955 crime story comics that appeared in Trojan Comics, which was edited by his old friend Adolphe Barreaux.
Henry C. Kiefer died at home in the Bronx with his wife at the age of sixty-seven on May 10, 1957.