Wednesday, June 18, 2008


When I started this blog we visited the hometown of Milton Caniff, creator of the comic strips 'Terry & the Pirates' and 'Steve Canyon' to show you Milton Caniff's Hillsboro. From there, Caniff lived in Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, before hitting the big time as a staff artist for the Associated Press in New York City. The Big Apple was part of Milton Caniff’s life from the time he got his job at the AP in 1932, at age 25, until his death in 1988. I was recently able to visit a few of the sites where Caniff lived and worked. My first stop was the Daily News Building, where Caniff shared a studio/office space with fellow artist Noel Sickles from 1934 to 1935. The newspaper no longer occupies the building, but the current owners have kept the historic globe that’s the centerpiece of the lobby (NOTE: this building served as the model for the Daily Planet of the Christopher Reeve ‘Superman’ movies).

A couple of blocks away is Tudor City, a collection of high-rise apartment building towers that is a neighborhood unto itself. Built in the 1920s, this historic complex was relatively new when Caniff moved into his first New York apartment there in 1932. His first home was Prospect Tower. He relocated to Windsor Tower the next year. In 1935, he and Sickles vacated the Daily News office and rented an apartment in Woodstock Tower as their studio. In the summer of '37, Caniff moved out of Tudor City and Manhattan altogether for the quiet life in Rockland County.

A short walk from Tudor City was Caniff’s hangout of a half-century or so – the Palm. The Palm is known now as a high-end steakhouse chain, but it started in the 1920s as a speakeasy called Ganzi’s (the last name of the original co-owner). It was a hangout for cartoonists, who put their skills to work decorating the walls of the restaurant, sometimes in trade for a spaghetti dinner. The tradition continues today, with the walls of the original Palm replete with cartoons and caricatures. Caniff was a regular there for decades, though moreso when he lived in town. Even when he lived outside of the city, the Palm was a sure stop on trips into Manhattan. Interviews with Caniff for a late-career documentary, narrated by Walter Cronkite, were done at the Palm, with Caniff clearly in his comfort zone. I’m not sure if any of Caniff’s work on the walls survives, but alas the Palm is not open on Sunday, so I wasn’t able to look around inside. Also unique to the Palm is the positioning of the next nearest Palm location…it’s the Palm Too, right across the street!

Thanks to R.C. Harvey, whose Caniff biography (linked at right) was the source for all locations and dates. Thanks also to Jeff and Brian, two non-comics fans, for indulging me in a tour of Caniff sites. In the future I’ll have to convince (cajole, persuade, confuse) my wife into visiting some others.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


This photo (by the AP's Jeff Roberson) is an example of the devastation in Iowa's recent flooding. The houses gathered like flotsam against a Cedar River railroad bridge reminded me of the great Ohio River flood of 1937.
After the greatest natural disaster ever to hit the Ohio Valley, a great number of levees, floodwalls and anti-flood reservoirs were put into place to make sure it didn't happen again. That's why this Bill Watterson editorial cartoon from August 25, 1980, is so confusing to me. I don't recall any flooding in 1980 and, indeed, even the '37 flood wasn't as extreme as depicted in the cartoon.
Can I get some reader help on this? Does anybody recall what he's referring to?

Monday, June 9, 2008


With the recent high temps here at home and my scorching weekend in NYC, I thought I'd post this Bill Watterson editorial cartoon. It's from the Cincinnati Post dated July 17, 1980. The city had been experiencing an unusually high heat wave, even for July, with temps peaking at 99 degrees and no rain for relief. [A note for you younger readers, before the global warming craze it just get really hot sometimes.]

In this cartoon, the statue figures on the Tyler Davidson fountain have climbed down into the pool to beat the heat. Very clever!

The fountain, dedicated in 1871, is Cincinnati's most famous landmark. It is the centerpiece of Fountain Square, which is the heart of the downtown area. Also known as 'The Genius of Water', it has survived several restorations and endured many relocations. Each of the figures is meant to demonstrate the benefits/joys of water. For those readers outside the Cincinnati area, it's probably most recognizable as the opening shot for the theme of "WKRP". That's about all I know. What's left to do but go see it!?!

My favorite figure on the fountain (natch). Before the most recent restoration to its shining bronze color, a lot of us were surprised that the fountain wasn't supposed to be green.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I continue to be amazed at how hotly contested the 1980 Democrat presidential nomination process was. Perhaps in the media's quests to idealize the Jimmy Carter presidency, and therefore legitimize his statues as a Bush detractor, they've not brought it up very much. In regards to the current nomination race and upcoming convention, all we seem to here about is the violence of 1968. But I like the 1980 parallel, where a senator with a shady past (Ted Kennedy) nearly unseats the presumptive favorite (a sitting president) for the nomination. I even saw a story from early July where Kennedy floated the idea of dropping out if Carter would as well in favor of a third (unnamed) candidate. This cartoon, from August 20th, 1980, comes after the convention where Kennedy had ceded defeat to Carter. Bill Watterson depicts Carter and independent candidate John B. Anderson scrambling for Kennedy's supporters.