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...  

1 comment:

Oscar Solis said...

Nice examples of Caniff's last work. I actually like the inking Caniff did in the 80s strips. While not taking anything away from Richard Rockwell's contribution to the strip, it still would have been nice to see pure Caniff.