Friday, September 23, 2011


If you lived in Lake County, Ohio in the 1970s/80s, then you had a real treat when it came to the Sunday funnies. The comic strips were packaged as a 32-page comic book. 38 strips in color, 22 of them full page. And what strips! This thing had strips I never knew about and some I'd only heard about. This week I've reproduced the strips that simultaneously had comic books on the newsstand. From the 25 MAY 1980 edition.

Hulk? Conan? All that's missing is Amazing Spider-Man, conspicuous in its absence.
A bit of a cheat, as Tarzan's Marvel comic ended in 1979. But worth including for the rarely seen Tarzan art of comics legend Gil Kane.
I always heard about this one and it's good to finally see it. Nice work by Tuska & Colletta.
Russ Manning still a titanic talent near the end of his career. Poor Luke and Han are in the same clothes from the movie!
There was a Star Trek comic strip?!? Surprise to me. A bit clunky, but still neat to see. Watch that fighting stance, Chekov!
Archie, of course, had more comics under his name than all the above combined!
OK, a total cheat, as there was no Steve Canyon comic book in 1980 (or more accurately post 1959), but it's my blog, darnit!

To correct or not to correct. Some of the strips I've left yellowed as they exist today. Others I fooled with in Photoshop. Which is more authentic? Which do you prefer? Let me know!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


The second ever Cincinnati Comic Expo was held this past weekend. I was very excited for this show after the terrific time I had at the first one. At first I was concerned when they announced that the venue would be the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati on the same weekend as Oktoberfest, Cincinnati's largest public event. However, that event was several blocks away and had no effect on travel or parking. The Convention Center was ideal, and a marked improvement over last year's venue.
This year's guest of honor was Jim Steranko. I think of Steranko as the Buddy Holly of comics - minimal output with a strong legacy of influence. Steranko (pictured at right) is a delight; a raconteur who carries himself like a former matinee idol. He kindly signed my copies of his "History of Comics" and an issue of "Mediascene", both pioneering efforts in comics scholarship and reportage. His panel was very entertaining, with Steranko spinning tales of his upbringing and tantalizing, perhaps embellished, stories of his early years in comics.

Returning this year was guest Michael Uslan. Uslan is best known as a producer of the Batman movies, having secured the film rights in the late '70s when no one else thought a Batman movie was a feasible or sensible idea. He's had an interesting career, both in and out of comics, which he's put into an autobiography - The Boy Who Loved Batman. Caniffites may know Uslan as the writer/instigator of the updated "Terry & the Pirates" strip from 1995. Uslan told this reporter that he's very close to a deal on a "Terry" movie, with Gong Li in mind to play the Dragon Lady.
It's always good to see artist Chris Sprouse. At last year's Mid-Ohio, he drew a sketch of Steve Canyon for me. I asked him to try out the Dragon Lady, and below are the amazing results!

My pal Ted asked Chris for Dum Dum Dugan of the Howling Commandos.

Nearly every Thursday night, Up Up and Away hosts a comic book trivia contest at Maury's Tiny Cove, a westside landmark. Store owner Kendall Swafford presented a version of the regular game at the Expo. I'm proud to say my team tied for 2nd place!
Also returning this year was Golden Age artist Allen Bellman. Last year, Bellman told me a nice story about how he snuck into a Caniff radio show appearance. This year, he told me about how he attended a National Cartoonists Society dinner. He was there with his lovely date and his rented tux. Caniff entered and was walking by him. "Mr. Caniff," he began, hoping to engage his artistic hero. "Excuse me, I have some people waiting," said Caniff, walking on. "Caniff snubbed me!" Bellman told me, still stinging at the perceived affront.
I didn't meet Archie Comics legend Stan Goldberg, but my pal Ted did and he also got a sketch. Leave it to Ted to bypass the obvious choices and ask for a drawing of Midge, Moose's girlfriend.

There were lots of great costumes this year. Here I am with Wildcat and Power Girl (thank you, Wally Wood)!

All in all, a terrific show from top to bottom. There were some great buys in the dealers room and the whole event was bright with an atmosphere of optimism and camaraderie. Good luck topping this one, fellas!

* Steranko photo by Steven Thompson.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Steve Canyon color proof

A 'Steve Canyon' color proof from February 24, 1952. I love that border on the bottom...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


STEVE CANYON ON DVD VOL. 3 RELEASE DATE. This week, John Ellis of the Milton Caniff Estate announced the release date for Volume 3 of the "Steve Canyon" TV series on DVD. The much-anticipated conclusion to Ellis' loving restoration happens November 14th. Volume 2 was released in May 2009, with Volume 3 originally slated for Spring 2010. Ellis has had to overcome numerous obstacles, both financial and technical, to bring these shows to we, the public. If you have not pre-ordered, order yours today by going here!

CANIFF AUGUST - In the most exciting year since the Caniff centennial, three important Milton Caniff publications came out last month. CANIFF: A Visual Biography - an oversize page turner breathless packed with artwork, most of it rare and much of it unseen. Steve Canyon, The Complete Series, Volume One - collecting the Dell Steve Canyon comic books of the 1950s. Male Call - a complete reprinting of Caniff's WWII strip done exclusively for Camp Newpaper Services. I reviewed the Canyon book here. I'll have more on the other two books in the coming weeks.

The big announcement at San Diego this year (for Caniffites, that is) was that Dean Mullaney and the Library of American Comics will be reprinting 'Steve Canyon' in deluxe hardcovers beginning in 2012. These will be in the same format 'The Complete Terry & the Pirates' and will fit alongside them nicely both on your bookshelf and in your brain. Uncropped dailies...Sunday strips in more about the visual spectacle from Dean himself.

The Shel Dorf Awards will be given out in a ceremony at this year's Detroit Fanfare. This is the second year for the awards, named for Detroit native Shel Dorf, honoring the best in comics and comic creators. Dorf is best known as a founder of the San Diego Comic-Con, but Caniffites know him as letterer for 'Steve Canyon' from 1975 to 1988. Find out more about Dorf from one of my old posts.

The Hooded Utilitarian, a blog of cultural criticism, took an informal comics poll in May and June to try and discern the answer to this question: "What are the ten comics works you consider your favorites, the best, or the most significant?". They received 211 lists back and got some very interesting results. While comic strip works did rank highly, "Terry & the Pirates" ranked at 28th, a bit low to my mind, tied with American Splendor. "Peanuts", "Krazy Kat" and "Calvin and Hobbes" were the top three, with "Little Nemo" and "Pogo" also making the top ten. I guess 28th's not bad in a poll that covers comic strips and books. After all, it did beat Spider-Man. Bruce Canwell, wordsmith for the Library of American Comics, posted his own list and rationale for each. You should read that here.