Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The Cartoon Research Library at the Ohio State University is hosting RARITIES: Unusual Works from the Caniff Collection through January 19th. I visited this exhibit in October, along with 'Milton Caniff: American Master + School of Caniff', which was shown in OSU's Hopkins Hall Gallery + Corridor from October 8-28th. A generous amount of pictures from the Hopkins Hall show can be seen here. I regret now that I didn't take any notes or pictures (which I don't think are allowed) for the Rarities exhibit. The items that stick out in my mind are the watercolor (shown on the link), illustrated letters that Caniff wrote to his wife, Bunny, and a cartoon by Jules Feiffer.

The Feiffer cartoon is interesting because it's a direct response to a Vietnam-era 'Steve Canyon' strip in which Canyon is trying to corral a large group of war protesters at his military base. Canyon espouses the belief that it's every Americans right to protest, just so long as he can prove U.S. citizenship! Feiffer, although an admirer, lampoons the idea. The inclusion of the Feiffer cartoon tied the two shows together, with the 'Canyon' Sunday in question being part of the Hopkins Hall show.

Of course the thrill for me was seeing all of the original art...more Caniff originals than I'd ever seen before at one time. I lost track of how long I spent walking around the exhibit, leaving it, and then walking back in again. It was a real treat to see how Caniff made a correction, or drew webbing around Happy and Steve.

The "School of Caniff" exhibit was a nice idea, showcasing Caniff's many artistic artistic progeny, such as one time assistant Ray Bailey and Johnny Hazard's Frank Robbins.

Another treat at the show were the showcases full of mint condition Steve Canyon toys. When the Canyon TV show debuted in the late '50s, there was plenty of merchandising to kids. Here's something I've lusted for in my heart, a complete, unused edition of the board game.

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