Milton Caniff

Milton Arthur Paul "Milt" Caniff (/kəˈnɪf/; February 28, 1907 – April 3, 1988) was an American cartoonist famous for the Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon comic strips.

Milton Caniff
Milton Caniff cropped
Milton Caniff in 1982
BornMilton Arthur Paul Caniff
February 28, 1907
Hillsboro, Ohio
DiedApril 3, 1988 (aged 81)
New York City
NationalityAmerican
Area(s)Cartoonist
Notable works
Dickie Dare
Terry and the Pirates
Steve Canyon
Awardsfull list

Biography

Caniff was born in Hillsboro, Ohio. He was an Eagle Scout[1] and a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Caniff did cartoons for local newspapers while studying at Stivers High School (now Stivers School for the Arts) in Dayton Ohio. At Ohio State University, Caniff joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity and later illustrated for The Magazine of Sigma Chi and The Norman Shield (the fraternity's pledgeship/reference manual). Graduating in 1930, Caniff began at the Columbus Dispatch where he worked with the noted cartoonists Billy Ireland and Dudley Fisher, but Caniff's position was eliminated during the Great Depression. Caniff related later that he had been uncertain of whether to pursue acting or cartooning as a career and that Ireland said, "Stick to your inkpots, kid, actors don't eat regularly."[2]

He died on May 3, 1988 and was buried in the Mount Repose Cemetery, Haverstraw, New York.[3]

CaniffHome
Birthplace of Milton Caniff located at 149 East North Street in Hillsboro, Ohio
CaniffMarker
Milton Caniff Ohio Historical Marker located at the Highland County District Library in Hillsboro, Ohio

Comic strips

In 1932, Caniff moved to New York City to accept an artist job with the Features Service of the Associated Press. He did general assignment art for several months, drawing the comic strips Dickie Dare and The Gay Thirties,[4] then inherited a panel cartoon named Mister Gilfeather in September 1932 when Al Capp quit the feature. Caniff continued Gilfeather until the spring of 1933, when it was retired in favor of a generic comedy panel cartoon called The Gay Thirties, which he produced until he left AP in the autumn of 1934. In July 1933, Caniff began an adventure fantasy strip, Dickie Dare, influenced by series such as Flash Gordon and Brick Bradford.[5] The eponymous main character was a youth who dreamed himself into adventures with such literary and legendary persons as Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe and King Arthur. In the spring of 1934, Caniff changed the strip from fantasy to "reality" when Dickie no longer dreamed his adventures but experienced them as he traveled the world with a freelance writer, Dickie's adult mentor, "Dynamite Dan" Flynn.

Terry and the Pirates

In 1934, Caniff was hired by the New York Daily News to produce a new strip for the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate. Daily News publisher Joseph Medill Patterson wanted an adventure strip set in the mysterious Orient, what Patterson described as "the last outpost for adventure,"[6] Knowing almost nothing about China, Caniff researched the nation's history and learned about families for whom piracy was a way of life passed down for generations. The result was Terry and the Pirates, the strip which made Caniff famous.[5] Like Dickie Dare, Terry Lee began as a boy who is traveling with an adult mentor and adventurer, Pat Ryan. But over the years the title character aged, and by World War II he was old enough to serve in the Army Air Force. During the 12 years that Caniff produced the strip, he introduced many fascinating characters, most of whom were "pirates" of one kind or another.

Introduced during the early days of the strip was Terry and Pat's interpreter and manservant Connie. They were later joined by the mute Chinese giant Big Stoop. Both he and Connie provided the main source of comic relief. Other characters included: Burma, a blonde with a mysterious, possibly criminal, past; Chopstick Joe, a Chinese petty criminal; Singh Singh, a warlord in the mountains of China; Judas, a smuggler; Sanjak, a lesbian; and then boon companions such as Hotshot Charlie, Terry's wing man during the War years; and April Kane, a young woman who was Terry's first love.

But Caniff's most memorable creation was the Dragon Lady, a pirate queen; she was seemingly ruthless and calculating, but Caniff encouraged his readers to think she had romantic yearnings for Pat Ryan.

Male Call

During the war, Caniff began a second strip, a special version of Terry and the Pirates without Terry but featuring the blonde bombshell, Burma. Caniff donated all of his work on this strip to the armed forces—the strip was available only in military newspapers. After complaints from the Miami Herald about the military version of the strip being published by military newspapers in the Herald's circulation territory, the strip was renamed Male Call and given a new star, Miss Lace, a beautiful woman who lived near every military base and enjoyed the company of enlisted men, whom she addressed as "Generals". Her function, Caniff often said, was to remind service men what they were fighting for, and while the situations in the strip included much 'double entendre', Miss Lace was not portrayed as being promiscuous.

Much more so than civilian comic strips which portrayed military characters, Male Call was notable for its honest depiction of what the servicemen encountered; one strip displays Lace dating a soldier on leave who had lost an arm (she lost her temper when a civilian insulted him for that disability). Another strip had her dancing with a man in civilian clothes; a disgruntled GI shoved and mocked him for having an easy life, but Lace's partner was in fact an ex-GI blinded in battle. Caniff continued Male Call until seven months after V-J Day, ending it in March 1946.[7]

In 1946 Caniff ended his association with Terry and the Pirates. While the strip was a major success, it was not owned by its creator but by its distributing syndicate, the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News, a common practice with syndicated comics at the time. And when Caniff, growing more and more frustrated with the lack of rights to the comic strip he produced, was offered the chance to own his own strip by Marshall Field, publisher of the Chicago Sun, the cartoonist quit Terry to produce a strip for Field Enterprises. Caniff produced his last strip of Terry and the Pirates in December 1946 and introduced his new strip Steve Canyon in the Chicago Sun-Times the following month.[5] At the time, Caniff was one of only two or three syndicated cartoonists who owned their creations, and he attracted considerable publicity as a result of this circumstance.

Steve Canyon

Steve2 copy
Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon, although not gaining the popularity of Terry and the Pirates, nevertheless enjoyed greater longevity.

Like his previous strip, Steve Canyon was an action strip with a pilot as its main character. Canyon was portrayed originally as a civilian pilot with his own one-airplane cargo airline, but he re-enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War and remained in the Air Force for the remainder of the strip's run.

While Steve Canyon never achieved the popularity that Terry and the Pirates had as a World War II military adventure, it was a successful comic strip with a greater circulation than Terry ever had. A short-lived Steve Canyon television series was produced in 1958. Steve Canyon was often termed the "unofficial spokesman" for the Air Force. The title character's dedication to the military produced a negative reaction among readers during the Vietnam War, and the strip's circulation decreased as a result. Caniff nonetheless continued to enjoy enormous regard in the profession and in newspapering, and he produced the strip until his death in 1988. The strip was published for a couple of months after he died, but was ended in June 1988, due to Caniff's decision that no one else would continue the feature.

The character of Charlie Vanilla, who appeared frequently with an ice cream cone, was based on Caniff's long term friend Charles Russhon, a former photographer and Lieutenant in the US Air Force who later worked as a James Bond movie technical adviser.[8] The character of Madame Lynx was based on Madame Egelichi, the femme fatale spy played by Ilona Massey in the 1949 Marx Brothers movie Love Happy. The character stirred Caniff's imagination, and he hired Ilona Massey to pose for him.[9] Caniff designed Pipper the Piper after John Kennedy and Miss Mizzou after Marilyn Monroe.[9]

Recognition and awards

Caniff was one of the founders of the National Cartoonists Society and served two terms as its President, 1948 and 1949. He also received the Society's first Cartoonist of the Year Award in 1947 for work published during 1946, which included both Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates as well. Caniff would be named Cartoonist of the Year again, receiving the accompanying trophy, the Reuben, in 1972 for 1971, again for Steve Canyon.

He was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1988. He received the National Cartoonists Society Elzie Segar Award in 1971, the Award for Story Comic Strip in 1979 for Steve Canyon, the Gold Key Award (the Society's Hall of Fame) in 1981, and the NCS has since named the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in his honor.

In 1977, the Milton Caniff Collection of papers and original art became the foundation for what is known presently as the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Covering 696 cubic feet (19.7 m3), the collection fills 526 boxes, plus 12,153 art originals and 59 oversized items. In addition to the original artwork, the collection includes Caniff's personal and business papers, correspondence, research files, photographs, memorabilia, merchandise, realia, awards, audio/visual material and scrapbooks.

Influence

Caniff died in New York City in 1988. Along with Hal Foster and Alex Raymond, Caniff's style had a tremendous influence on the artists who drew American comic books and adventure strips during the mid-20th century. Evidence of his influence can be seen in the work of comic book/strip artists such as Jack Kirby, Frank Robbins, Lee Elias, Bob Kane, Mike Sekowsky, John Romita, Sr., Johnny Craig, William Overgard and Doug Wildey to name just a few. European artists were also influenced by his style, including Belgian artists Jijé, Hubinon and Italian artist Hugo Pratt.

The Caniff estate has retained special effects artist John R. Ellis to convert to DVDs the 34 episodes of the 1958–59 NBC television series Steve Canyon featuring Dean Fredericks in the title role.[10]

Caniff as comic character

From 1995, Dargaud has published a series of Franco-Belgian comics, Pin-Up, intended mainly for adults, written by Yann Le Pennetier and drawn by Philippe Berthet. The series describes the adventures of artist's model Dottie Partington during and after World War II. The strip features a number of real-life characters and situations, albeit in a fictional setting, including Gary Powers and the U-2 Crisis and Hugh Hefner. During World War II, Dottie is the model for Milton, an artist who has been commissioned to draw a strip to raise the morale of the troops. He creates Poison Ivy, a strip-within-a-strip, in which the titular character is a combination of Lace of Male Call and Mata Hari (though she fights with the Yanks against the Japanese). Milton is later shown working on Steve Canyon.

Dickiedarenemo15

This version of Caniff is not a particularly sympathetic one, depicting him in a loveless marriage while obsessed with Dottie who has rejected him.

Bibliography

  • Caniff, Milton Arthur (1975). Enter the Dragon Lady: From the 1936 classic newspaper adventure strip (The Golden age of the comics). Escondido, California: Nostalgia Press. ASIN B0006CUOBW.
  • Caniff, Milton Arthur (2007). The Complete Terry And The Pirates. San Diego, California: IDW (Idea and Design Works). ISBN 978-1-60010-100-7.

References

  1. ^ "Fact Sheet Eagle Scouts". Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  2. ^ Current Biography 1944, pp. 83–85
  3. ^ Milton Caniff at Find a Grave
  4. ^ Current Biography 1944, p. 83
  5. ^ a b c "Milton Caniff". Comiclopedia. Lambiek.
  6. ^ Current Biography 1944, p84
  7. ^ "Milton Caniff Biography". Checker Book Publishing Group. Archived from the original on 2007-11-01.
  8. ^ "Charles J. Russhon, 71, Dies; Basis of Comic Strip Figure". The New York Times. 1982-06-28. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  9. ^ a b Pageant May 1953, V8 n11
  10. ^ "Ellis to be featured at Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation". Wilmington, Ohio, News Journal, March 11, 2009. Archived from the original on October 3, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2011.

Further reading

  • Abrams, Harry N. (1978). Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics'. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 978-0-8109-1612-8.
  • Harvey, Robert C. and Milton Caniff (2002). Milton Caniff: Conversations (Conversations with Comic Artists series). Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-57806-438-0.
  • Harvey, Robert C. Meanwhile... Fantagraphics Books, 2007. ISBN 1-56097-782-5.
  • Marschall, Rick and Adams, John Paul. Milton Caniff, Rembrandt of the comic strip. Flying Buttress Publications, 1981. ISBN 0-918348-04-8.
  • Mullaney, Dean. Caniff: A Visual Biography, Idea & Design Works, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60010-920-1.

External links

Comics Revue

Comics Revue is a bi-monthly small press comic book published by Manuscript Press and edited by Rick Norwood. Don Markstein edited the publication from 1984 to 1987 and 1992 to 1996.

As of 2014, it has published more than 300 issues, making it the longest running independent comic book (beating the record of Cerebus the Aardvark). It reprints comic strips such as Alley Oop, The Amazing Spider-Man, Barnaby, Batman, Buz Sawyer, Casey Ruggles, Flash Gordon, Gasoline Alley, Hägar the Horrible, Krazy Kat, Lance, Latigo, Little Orphan Annie, Mandrake the Magician, Modesty Blaise, O'Neill, Peanuts, The Phantom, Rick O'Shay, Sir Bagby, Star Wars, Steve Canyon, Tarzan, Akwas, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Artists whose work has appeared in Comics Revue include most of the best known names in comics art: Jack Kirby, Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, Charles Schulz, Al Williamson, George Pérez, Roy Crane, Russ Manning, and Burne Hogarth.

In issue #200, Comics Revue featured the only English language publication of "The Dark Angels", the last Modesty Blaise story, by Peter O'Donnell and Romero.

In 2006, it was revealed in Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths that the Batman stories published in Comics Revue actually happened on Earth-1289.

In October 2009, the magazine re-launched as a bi-monthly title with twice the number of pages and reprinting Sunday strips in color. Each issue now includes at least one complete story.

Issue #300 includes a complete index to all comic strips published in Comics Revue #1-300.

Dickie Dare

Dickie Dare was a comic strip syndicated by AP Newsfeatures. Launched July 31, 1933, it was the first comic strip created by Milton Caniff before he began Terry and the Pirates.

Dragon Lady

A Dragon Lady is usually a stereotype of East Asian and occasionally South Asian and Southeast Asian women as strong, deceitful, domineering, or mysterious. The term's origin and usage is Western, not Chinese. Inspired by the characters played by actress Anna May Wong, the term comes from the female villain in the comic strip Terry and the Pirates. It has since been applied to powerful Asian women and to a number of racially Asian film actresses. The stereotype has generated a large quantity of sociological literature. "Dragon Lady" is sometimes applied to persons who lived before the term became part of American slang in the 1930s. It is also used to refer to any powerful but prickly woman, usually in a derogatory fashion.

Dragon Lady (Terry and the Pirates)

The Dragon Lady, also known as Madam Deal, was a well-known character in the U.S. comic strip Terry and the Pirates, created by Milton Caniff, and in the movie serial, comic books, and TV series based on the comic strip. Her real name is Lai Choi San.

National Cartoonists Society

The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) is an organization of professional cartoonists in the United States. It presents the National Cartoonists Society Awards. The Society was born in 1946 when groups of cartoonists got together to entertain the troops. They enjoyed each other's company and decided to meet on a regular basis.NCS members work in many branches of the profession, including advertising, animation, newspaper comic strips and syndicated single-panel cartoons, comic books, editorial cartoons, gag cartoons, graphic novels, greeting cards, magazine and book illustration. Only recently has the National Cartoonists Society embraced web comics. Membership is limited to established professional cartoonists, with a few exceptions of outstanding persons in affiliated fields. The NCS is not a guild or labor union.

The organization's stated primary purposes are "to advance the ideals and standards of professional cartooning in its many forms", "to promote and foster a social, cultural and intellectual interchange among professional cartoonists of all types" and "to stimulate and encourage interest in and acceptance of the art of cartooning by aspiring cartoonists, students and the general public."

Noel Sickles

Noel Douglas Sickles (January 24, 1910 – October 3, 1982) was an American commercial illustrator and cartoonist, best known for the comic strip Scorchy Smith.

Sickles was born in Chillicothe, Ohio. Largely self-taught, his career began as a political cartoonist for the Ohio State Journal in the late 1920s. At that time he met and shared a studio with cartoonist Milton Caniff, then working for the Columbus Dispatch. Sickles followed Caniff, creator of the Terry and the Pirates comic strip, to New York City in 1933, where both men initially worked as staff artists for the Associated Press.

Poteet, Texas

Poteet is a city in Atascosa County, Texas, United States. The population was 3,260 as of the 2010 census. It is part of the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was named for its first postmaster, Francis Marion Poteet. It is best known as the birthplace of country music star, George Strait.

Poteet is known for its "Poteet Strawberry Festival". Poteet Canyon, Steve Canyon's ward in the long-running comic strip by Milton Caniff, is named after the town (and a mosaic of Poteet Canyon stands in front of the town's fire station). In James Michener's classic, Centennial, cattleman R. J. Poteet led the drive of a large herd of longhorns north from Texas to Colorado.

Quizzing the News

Quizzing the News was an American game show which aired on ABC between August 16, 1948 and March 5, 1949 at 8:00 PM on Monday nights. Alan Prescott hosted the show, which featured Arthur Q. Bryan, Milton Caniff, Mary Hunter and Ray Joseph as the panelists. The series was produced by Robert Brenner Productions.

Steve Canyon

Steve Canyon was an American adventure comic strip by writer-artist Milton Caniff. Launched shortly after Caniff retired from his previous strip, Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon ran from January 13, 1947, until June 4, 1988, shortly after Caniff's death. Caniff won the Reuben Award for the strip in 1971.

Terry and the Pirates (comic strip)

Terry and the Pirates was an action-adventure comic strip created by cartoonist Milton Caniff. Captain Joseph Patterson, editor for the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate, had admired Caniff's work on the children's adventure strip Dickie Dare and hired him to create the new adventure strip, providing Caniff with the title and locale. The Dragon Lady leads the evil pirates; conflict with the pirates was diminished in priority when World War II started.The strip was read by 31 million newspaper subscribers between 1934 and 1946. In 1946, Caniff won the first Cartoonist of the Year Award from the National Cartoonists Society for his work on Terry and the Pirates.

Terry and the Pirates (serial)

Terry and the Pirates (1940) was the 10th film serial released by Columbia. It was based on the comic strip Terry and the Pirates created by Milton Caniff. In his biography, Meanwhile..., Caniff stated that he hated the serial for changing so much of his comic strip, and that "I saw the first chapter and walked out screaming."

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