Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Volume 3 of the Complete Steve Canyon was released in April by the Library of American Comics (LOCA).  This volume, edited by Dean Mullaney, covers the years 1951 and 1952, two action-packed years that resonated throughout the rest of the strip's history.  Canyon is once again surrounded by beauties - Deen Wilderness, Delta, Summer Olson and the provocative Miss Mizzou.  This issue's essay by Bruce Canwell explores Caniff's use of models in doing publicity for the strip.  Lovely real-life ladies to go with lovely drawn gals makes for good copy.

Speaking of the LOCA, the Comics Journal has a joint interview with Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell about reaching a milestone and their future plans for the Library of American Comics.  Read that interview HERE.

The latest issue of Comics Revue (April 2013) reprints "Steve Canyon" from August 6th through September 2nd, 1972.  This storyline has Steve and Summer troubleshooting in Ireland, posing as tourists

Don't just buy it for the "Canyon".  It's got great work by other artists, including Manning, Lubbers, Raboy and Herriman, plus a complete 5 month BUZ SAWYER continuity in Cuba from 1962/63.

The inaugural issue of Comic Book Creator includes an article on Frank Robbins.  For my money, Robbins is the valedictorian of the "Caniff school" style of art.  Dismissed by some as a Caniff clone, I think Robbins' work evolved into a distictive style, particularly in his comic book work.  It's that work for Marvel and DC that is the focus of this article, as well as his retirement years in San Miguel, Mexico.  The life of this reclusive artist is illuminated by interviews with his widow as well as friend Stan Goldberg, of Archie Comics fame.

After Caniff's death in 1988, Comics Revue did a tribute issue (issue #30) in which they asked other artists and USAF officials for their reflections on the deceased.  Joe Kubert wrote this of Caniff -

"Beyond his abilities as writer, dramatist, artist, was the man.  A man whose reputation as a gentleman and a gentle man preceded his presence.  He was the ultimate professional.  A class act.  He was the epitome of what every aspiring cartoonist dreamed about in terms of imagination, dedication and quality.

The man is gone, but he has left us a legacy of his work.  A compilation of narrative graphics that will remain fresh through numberless re-readings.

And his influence will continue to be seen and recognized in the efforts and work of every cartoonist for as long as the art of cartooning exists."
These same words written by Joe apply to Kubert himself, who passed last year.  The latest issue of Alter Ego (#116) is devoted to remembering Kubert and his work.

Monday, June 3, 2013


25 years ago this week, "Steve Canyon" came to an end.  Milton died of lung cancer on April 3rd, 1988 and his strip ended three months later, on June 6th.  Above is the final strip - a Sunday drawn by Caniff's good friend Bill Mauldin.  I'm not sure how they obtained all of the signatures.  Perhaps at a National Cartoonists Society meeting. 

The final daily strip was a tribute to Caniff drawn by his assistant, Richard Waring Rockwell.  Rockwell had been Caniff's assistant since 1953, penciling the strip with Caniff writing and doing the finished drawing.  According to RC Harvey's Meanwhile, Caniff's final week of strips appeared March 7 - 13th, with Rockwell continuing solo for the rest of the run.

Like most Caniff fans, the 1980's "Steve Canyon" run is somewhat unfamiliar.  "Canyon" had lost most of its papers by then and was not seen by much of the country.  His art had declined, partially due to age but mostly to concessions made for the ever-shrinking reproduction of the newspaper strip.  Where he could still shine was in the writing, still giving us compelling yarns in foreign locales, replete with wit and danger.  Below I've scanned some panels and strips from his final storyline that give glimpses of what I love about Caniff.  In this story, bush pilot Bitsy Beekman is helping deliver relief supplies to a South American country.  The supply chain is organized by Carrot Kane, posing as a Zorro-like character named Zana.  Kane becomes the captive of Sr. Feo, a bandit intent on stealing the supplies...