The strip that never was...
R.C. Harvey published the above tasty tidbit (click on the picture to enlarge) in his expansive biography of Milton Caniff, which I've been a booster for since its release in 2007. It's snuck in like an afterthought, just another treasure from the archives at the Cartoon Research Library and Museum. It immediately grabbed my curiosity. I knew there was no Joe Kubert 'Terry & the Pirates' strip, so was this a tryout of some kind? This seemed strange, as by this time the adventure comic strip had all but disappeared.
'Terry & the Pirates' had already had a healthy life. Milton Caniff created the strip in 1934 and drew it until 1946. It was one of the most popular comic strips of it's time, particularly during WWII. After Caniff left to create 'Steve Canyon', 'Terry' was taken over by George Wunder, who drew it for a very long run that ended in 1973. There was a revival attempt in 1995, with art by noted painters Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, but it was short-lived. So, the idea of reviving the strip before that in 1980 doesn't seem out of the question.
I went right to the sources. R.C. Harvey told me that he didn't know, but doubted that the Tribune Media Syndicate had plans to continue the strip. I contacted the Tribune, but (surprise, surprise), no one's been hanging around from 29 years ago with the scoop.
When I interviewed Joe Kubert about his work on the Tales of the Green Berets comic strip, I asked him about the picture. Kubert is a Caniff devotee, and wanted to do 'Terry & the Pirates'-type adventure in 'Green Berets', rather than get involved with Vietnam War politics. He didn't recall any details of the drawing, but probably because I mistakenly identified the character as Steve Canyon and not Terry Lee. In October, I got to meet Joe Kubert face to face at Mid Ohio Con. I showed him the picture above. He recognized it, and simply said that someone had the idea of reviving the strip and asked him to create samples, but nothing ever came of it.
I have a nagging feeling that there's more to this story, But, for now, we know a little more than before. The picture remains, as Harvey wrote, "a bit of a tease that'll just dangle there, unrequited."