Thursday, September 11, 2008


Comic strip legend Milton Caniff’s longtime friend, one-time studio partner and artistic brother, Noel Sickles, is celebrated in a new book from IDW – Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles. It's a hefty tome, with the first half or so being a biography of Sickles and the latter part reprinting his run on the comic strip "Scorchy Smith". Since I’m only on page 4, I don’t have a review yet, but here are some reviews by some other dudes:

The Oregonian
Today’s Inspiration
Temple of the Seven Golden Camels

IDW also continues there reverently produced volumes of The Complete Terry & the Pirates. Volume 4 is due out at the end of the month, covering the years 1941-42. In Harvey’s biography of Caniff, ‘Meanwhile...’, we learn of Caniff’s dilemma in December 1941. Caniff had already produced strips several weeks in advance and couldn't change his storyline to reflect the war until the next year. A stickler for accuracy and realism, Caniff was pained by the bind he was in. It will be interesting to me to see how he slowly integrated the most important development of his time into the strip. The war years, to this Caniffite, showcase the apex of his talent.

Volume 5 is also on the schedule, though I assume the release date of October will be pushed now into next year. This isn’t a criticism, in fact I think all of the volumes have been late. I think it’s good not to have them come out too close together (the twice-a-year schedule for the 'Peanuts' reprints has been ideal. Though if you prefer the slipcase sets like I do, it’s a once a year deal.

Also on the Caniff horizon, the next volume of Checker Publishing’s Steve Canyon reprint series is due in January. This volume reprints a year’s worth of Canyon strips from 1955-56. While I’m not a fan of the monochromatic cover color schemes and the smaller strip reprint size, the strips and stories still thrill me. Also, in a couple of volumes we’ll be into uncollected territory. The last reprinting effort, in ‘Steve Canyon Magazine’, stopped in 1992 with strips from 1958.

HervĂ© St-Louis has an interesting comparison of cartoonists Alex Toth and Hugo Pratt and how they were influenced by Milton Caniff. It’s over at the Comic Book Bin. I would have liked to have seen more art examples in the article. St-Louis uses a blow-up of the cover of a recent Canyon reprint collection, for example, which doesn't show Caniff's gift for panel layout, which is the point of the article. While I think there is a dearth of Caniff art on the web, there are ready examples of complete Caniff strips, such as the daily reprints of 'Canyon at Humorous Maximus.

As we roll through September, it looks like the release of the entire 'Steve Canyon' TV series on DVD may not happen as hoped for 2008. I'm really excited by this project, so I encourage you to check out the Steve Canyon on DVD website. There's a new post there today promising a big announcement soon. It's assured that John Ellis and the Milton Caniff Estate have been working hard on this labor of love. There's a 'Special Edition' out there with four episodes, the purchase of which helps fund the restoration of the rest of the series. You can buy it from there home site, but they also have wider distribution points, such as Bud Plant and Amazon.

[EDIT: How wrong can a guy be?!? Check out the Steve Canyon DVD website for exciting news about releases of the TV series on DVD in 2008!!}

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