Sunday, August 7, 2011


DRAWING TABLET - You're not likely to find many 50 year old drawing tablets lying around unused. This "Newspaper Comic Strip Stars" Drawing Tablet was released in 1959 by HyTone, a trademark of the Western Tablet & Stationery Corporation. Western Tablet was headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, where Caniff grew up and did his first professional art. Sharing the cover with Steve Canyon is Li'l Abner, drawn by Caniff's longtime pal Al Capp. The other "stars" are Harry Haenigsen's somewhat forgotten "Penny" and Harry Hanan's "Louie", a pantomime strip so obscure that I'm surprised Dean Mullaney hasn't done a collection yet.

The inner cover had "how to" instructions for drawing the comic stars. How to go from an oval and square to a perfect 'Steve Canyon' face in two steps? I think we're missing something! This went unused and unbid at $19.95.

Unable to satisfy the demand for original drawings, Caniff had prints made of his best-known characters. He would then personalize them and often hand-colored them. They pop up on eBay quite frequently, but mostly of Steve Canyon, Burma, Terry, Dragon Lady and Flip Corkin. I've never seen the April Kane print before. The seller didn't know who know who she was, titling her "grouchy young lady." This made it onto somebody's wall for $203.50.

I wrote last month about a rare child's Steve Canyon flight suit up for auction and going unsold. I no sooner mentioned that I'd never seen one before when this one comes up - the same product, only brand new and still in the box! It may be one of a kind, but it didn't move on the minimum price of $565.

Even before Terry Lee got in a cockpit, Milton Caniff was a booster for the US military. Here's one of the many (no doubt gratis) jobs he did for Uncle Sam. It's a recruitment sign for the Women's Air Force Reserve. It's not dated, but the art looks like '60s, maybe early '70s Caniff. A rarity, to be sure, but at $40 it found no recruits!

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