Legendary artist Russ Heath will be given the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Cartoonists Society (NCS). The honor will be presented by the NCS at their annual Reuben Awards, being held this May in San Diego. "It's very humbling," Heath told the Washington Post. Heath is best known for his work on the DC war books, and has a career that stretches from the mid-1940s through the present day. I've been honored to meet and talk with him twice, and did a profile of him in this previous entry. Congratulations to Russ Heath on something well deserved, as one master of the craft is honored by the spirit of another.
In sad news, longtime Superman artist Al Plastino died on November 25th of last year. Plastino is best known for the hundreds of covers and stories for the Superman family of comics between 1948 and 1968. In a Caniff connection, he reportedly did ghost work for George Wunder on the "Terry & the Pirates" comic strip somewhere during the end of its run in the early 1970s. Also, in an interview with the Silver Age Sage, Plastino spoke highly of Caniff - "Milt was a great man," Plastino recalled. "He was such a pleasant man to talk to."
Col. Karl Polifka (retired) has written a book about his time flying in the Ravens during Vietnam as part of the military's classified "Steve Canyon" program. The Ravens were fighter pilots under the control of the CIA, performing covert operations in Laos, which was technically neutral territory. Caniff and his high-flying hero had no involvement with the program. I guess it was an homage. Meeting Steve Canyon was released in the fall of last year.
The latest issue of Comics Revue is #331-332. It came out this month and is cover dated December 2013. The issue sports a Christmas cover by Jim Keefe, which includes Steve Canyon hanging a patriotic ornament. Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, and discusses the cover on his site. This issue reprints the "Steve Canyon" strips from November 26 - December 23, 1972, with Sundays in color. The action shifts back to Poteet, when a woman arrives claiming to be her long-lost mother.
Lucy Caswell w/ Caniff [Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum collection]The NCS presented the Elzie Segar Award at the Festival of Cartoon Art, held last month at the grand opening of the new home of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. The award was presented to Lucy Shelton Caswell, founding curator of that institution and current Curator of Special Projects. It was Caswell who took on the task of creating something out of Milton Caniff's donated papers and artwork in the 1970s, leading the way to tremendous expansion and growth, until retiring from the position in 2010. According to the NCS, the Segar is given to those "who made a unique and outstanding contribution to the profession of cartooning." Caswell has certainly done that, by giving cartooning a home and a forum from which it can enrich the world. Milton Caniff was the first recipient of the Segar, in 1971. The award had not been given since 1999. Elzie "E.C." Segar was the creator of Popeye.
Caswell recently gave an interview, about her career and the library, to Tom Spurgeon at his Comics Reporter website.