by Michael Vance & Jon Suter
No cartoonist influenced more of his contemporaries and generations of new artists and writers than did Milt Caniff.
After a stint on the strip, Dickie Dare, Caniff rose to worldwide fame through the blood and thunder adventures of Terry and the Pirates (1934), an exotic adventure comic strip that brought serious artistic merit to the artform.
Scholars believe that Caniff "revitalized" the style of newspaper adventure strips with Terry's world-hopping escapades, featuring a supporting cast as exotic as his famous dangerous women. Who can forget The Dragon Lady?
But Caniff did not own Terry and the Pirates. In a move almost unprecedented, Caniff left the lucrative strip to create another that he could own.
Steve Canyon was a gamble that paid off. Caniffs new creation brought the same flavor of adventure and impressionist graphic techniques that had made Terry so wildly successful. But this aviation-based strip was firmly grounded in reality. Caniffs vivid flights of imagination found a home only in Steve's infrequent dreams.
Begun in 1947, Steve Canyon never reached the heights of fame of Terry,which spawned a radio show, movie and tons of merchandising, but remains Terry's artistic equal.
The comic books that featured Terry and the Pirates include: Famous Feature Stories (Deli), Popular Comics (Deli), Super Book (Western), Super Comics (Deli), and Terry and the Pirates (Deli, Harvey, Charlton). Steve Canyon was published in 4-Color (Deli), Harvey Comics Hits (Harvey) and Steve Canyon (Crosset & Dunlap, Harvey, Kitchen Sink).
Many premiums featuring these two strip were released by Sears, Buster Brown, Canada Dry and many other companies.
Other trade paperback collections are available. Ask your local comics dealer for information.
Caniffs work deserves the highest possible recommendation.
Published over many years, these may be hard to find. Price guides or comics dealers may help. Comic book shops, mail order companies, comics magazines and conventions are best sources. Prices vary widely; shop around.
Questions? Comments? Email to Suspended Animation c/o Starland.