Monday, January 24, 2011


Here's some show-and-tell. Last year, the US Postal Service issued a series of Sunday Funnies stamps. The First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony took place July 16, 2010 at Ohio State, co-sponsored by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. As I was leaving on vacation on the 17th, I couldn't make the ceremony. A couple of very thoughtful Columbus pals, Brian & Dana Mason, went to the ceremony for me and got the above First Day Cover (FDC) signed. After the ceremony, the guests signed autographs. They were:
David Failor - Executive Director, Stamp Services, USPS
Lee Salem - President and editor, Universal Uclick, the largest syndicator of comic strips. "Calvin & Hobbes" was developed and syndicated while Salem was then managing editor.
Greg Walker - co-writer, "Beetle Bailey" and "Hi and Lois"
Nancy Silberkleit - co-CEO of Archie Comics, widow of former Archie publisher Michael Silberkleit and daughter-in-law of Archie co-founder Louis Silberkleit
Craig Boldman - writer of the "Archie" newspaper strip (1992-present) and of the "Jughead" comic book. Resident of Hamilton, Ohio.
Marcus Hamilton - "Dennis the Menace" daily strip artist, 1993 - present
Ron Ferdinand - "Dennis the Menace" Sunday page artist, 1982 - present
Scott Ketcham - son of "Dennis the Menace" creator Hank Ketcham

The two names most people will recognize -
Mort Walker - creator - "Beetle Bailey" (1950-82), "Boner's Ark" (1968-82), co-creator "Hi and Lois" (1954-89), "Sam and Silo" (1977-86); founder of the International Museum of Cartoon Art (1974-2008). Not much to add about this living legend that I didn't say in this earlier post. Walker's 2008 decision to merge the collection of his museum with the Cartoon Research Library has enhanced the legacy of both institutions.

Jim Davis - creator - "Garfield" (1978-present), "Garfield" cartoon specials and series; "U.S. Acres" (1986-89). I haven't been a regular Garfield reader in years, but as a kid I was a Garfield fanatic. I remember being 8 or 9 on vacation with my family. We were in a bookstore and Dad told us we could get X number of books for the long ride in the car. I'm sure I bought all comic strip reprints, one of them being the first Garfield paperback. As I read it in the back seat, I would ask Dad for definitions of any word I didn't know or understand. Later on, I had Garfield bed sheets, probably into junior high. While Garfield probably peaked as a national phenomenon in the '80s, it's still a major concern. Kudos to Davis for keeping his base of operations in Muncie, Indiana.

Notably absent was Bill Watterson, creator of "Calvin & Hobbes". Watterson is well-known as a recluse who doesn't like his picture taken, so his absence at a media event is no surprise. I'm sure he was invited, but I wonder what his response was.

Many of the attendees were philatelists who collect First Day Covers. They were a little concerned that my friends had people sign on the actual FDC. The collectors had them sign the program card. Brian & Dana thought it looked cooler on the FDC, which has the stamps. They're right.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The Library of American Comics, the arm of IDW that published 'The Complete Terry & the Pirates', recently unveiled plans to publish a Caniff art book later this year. As editor Dean Mullaney revealed to me two years ago in our interview, after 'Terry' he had an idea for an "Art of Caniff" book sometime in the future. With Mullaney, Caniff fan dreams become reality. Here is the official announcement. You may notice a photo of yours truly in the link.

Hermes Press has made a name for itself with classic comic strip reprints and reprints of comics based on beloved TV shows. Now they are turning to the Steve Canyon comic books printed by Dell between 1953 and 1959. Dell published seven new Canyon adventures as part of its long-running FOUR COLOR series. These were new adventures, ghosted for Caniff by William Overgard (two issues) and Ray Bailey (four issues). I've seen reference that one or more of the issues had Caniff drawing the Canyon heads only, but I lack the assurance to state it positively.

Hermes also announced plans to reprint Caniff's wartime strip, Male Call. The strip has been collected several times, most recently way back in 1987 by Kitchen Sink. It's great to see this strip back in print, despite the misguided jacket design. Ugh.

Steve Canyon on DVD update! John Ellis of the Milton Caniff Estate continues his monumental work on completing Volume 3. Here's his latest blog entry in which he's recruited Bob Burns, noted film prop historian and archivist. Volumes 1 and 2 are back in stock, so order today if you don't have them already!

The National Aviation Hall of Fame announced their inductees for 2011. The recipient of this year's Milton Caniff "Spirit of Flight Award" is the US Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team. The award will be presented by the NAHF in Dayton, Ohio on July 15th. Read more here.

OSU has revived their humor magazine - the Sundial. Here is their Facebook page. As a student in the late '20s, Milton Caniff was a regular contributor and art editor. Above is a cover he did in 1927. Founded in 1911, the magazine has been defunct since the early 19'90s. More information about the revival can be found here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Cartooning must be a good job to have if you want to live a long time. With a few exceptions, most of the guys on this list average out in their 80s. Not a bad run. Here we celebrate these creators and the work they left behind. Thanks to D.D. Degg who created the more comprehensive list on which this entry is partly based.

2/3 Barry Blair, 55
- independent comics publisher/founder of Aircel Comics (1985-92)
- writer/artist who did many of his own titles and later work on the Elfquest line of books

2/11 Marvin Stein, 85
- comic artist for Timely and DC in the ‘40s, Feature & Atlas in the ‘50s and Archie & Gold Key in the ‘60s
- comic strips: Funnyman (194, McGurk’s Mob (1965-68)

2/19 Jerry Grandenetti, 83
- assistant on “The Spirit” (1948-51)
- 17 years at DC, drawing for all Big 5 war titles
- Contributor to Warren magazines, 1966-72

3/6 Don Sherwood, 79
- assistant to George Wunder on “Terry & the Pirates” (1961-62)
- creator of “Dan Flagg” (1963-67)
- artist of “Dick Clark’s Rock Roll and Remember” strip (1994-95)
- artist on “The Partridge Family” comic for Charlton

3/27 Dick Giordano, 77
- DC: Editor (1968-71, 1980-83); VP Executive Editor (1983-93)
- Editor-in-chief for Charlton 1965-68
- Mainstay inker/artist for DC during editing tenure and as a freelancer
- Co-founder of Continuity Associates with Neal Adams

4/4 Henry Scarpelli, 80
- Artist for Archie Comics and the “Archie” comic strip
- Freelancer for other comic book companies (1960s/70s)

5/3 Peter O’Donnell, 90
- creator of “Modesty Blaise”, which he wrote 1963-2001

5/10 Frank Frazetta, 82
- fantasy artist who influenced all who followed him
- comic book artist in the Golden Age & 1950s
- assistant to Al Capp on “Li’l Abner” in the 1950s
- drew his own strip “Johnny Comet” (1952)
- move posters/book covers in the 1960s
- Album covers/fantasy art in the 1970s
- Will Eisner and Jack Kirby Hall of Famer

5/21 Howie Post, 83
- comic book artist: funny animal artist for DC in the Golden Age, Atlas in the ‘50s
- Harvey Comics artist, early 1960s
- Creator of “Anthro” for DC (1968-69)
- comic strip: “The Dropouts” (1968-81)

6/2 Tony DiPreta, 88
- comic strip artist: “Joe Palooka” (1959-84), “Rex Morgan, M.D.” (1994-2000)
- comic book artist: Timely/Atlas, Quality, Lev Gleason

6/12 Al Williamson, 79
- comic strip artist: “Secret Agent Corrigan” (1967-80), “Star Wars” (1981-83), assistant on “Rip Kirby” (1960-63)
- comic book legend: “Flash Gordon” for King/Whitman, science fiction stories for EC
- drew the comic book adaptation of “The Empire Strikes Back” as well as original Star Wars comics
- spent the bulk of his last 25 years as an inker
- a closer look at his "ESB" comic can be found here

6/23 Joe Messerli, 79
- designer of the “Twilight Zone” logo
- comic book artist for Western (1960s-‘80s), specializing in cartoon characters

7/12 Harvey Pekar, 70
- comic book writer; pioneer in autobiographical comics with American Splendor (1976-2008)
- subject of the film “American Splendor” (2003)
- frequent, contentious guest on Letterman

9/4 Paul Conrad, 86
- Editorial cartoonist for the L.A. Times (1963-93)
- Pulitzer prize winner 1964, 1971 and 1984

9/19 Howard Brodie, 94
- Combat artist from WWII to Vietnam
- Courtroom artist for the Manson, Ruby & Chicago 7 trials
- Illustrator for Yank Magazine during WWII

9/19 Stoo Hample, 84
- comic strip artist – “Inside Woody Allen”
- read Hample's story behind the strip here

10/19 Jonny Rench, 28
- colorist for Wildstorm (2006-10), including Welcome to Tranquility, Red Menace and Claw, the Unconquered

10/22 Alex Anderson, 90
- creator of Rocket J. Squirrel, Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and Crusader Rabbit

10/23 Leo Cullum, 68
- Cartoonist who had 819 cartoons published in the New Yorker from 1977-2010

10/24 Mike Esposito, 83
- Mainstay Marvel & DC inker 1950s-2000s, primarily partnered with artist Ross Andru
- DC: Big 5 war titles, Wonder Woman, Flash
- Marvel: Amazing Spider-Man (1966-79)
- Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Famer

11/28 Jon D’Agostino, 81
- Comic book artist; drew from the Golden Age to 2010
- Best known as an inker, primarily for Archie Comics and Charlton
- Letterer of the historic Amazing Spider-Man #1

12/14 Adrienne Roy, 57
- DC colorist from the 1970s-‘90s; staggering 15 & 16 year runs on Batman and Detective Comics, respectively
- Also long tenures on Robin, New Teen Titans, Warlord