Sunday, March 31, 2013


My friend Jerry and I braved the iffy weather for a jaunt up to Gem City Comic Con in Dayton, Ohio.  I've always passed over this show for some reason, but this year boasted an appealing guest list. 

Howard Chaykin is known for his men of action: Cody Starbuck, Dominic Fortune and American Flagg!  He's also known for pushing the boundaries of depicting sex and violence in comics.  He's a great guest for a show, both for his body of work and as a raconteur.  Though he described himself as an "asshole" who doesn't "care what other people think," he was perfectly nice to me.  The "asshole" thing, he said, "comes and goes."

I've been a longtime reader of Groo, Sergio Aragones' buffoonish barbarian character.  Stan Sakai has been the letterer for Groo's adventures for over 30 years.  He's also a cartoonist, known for his samurai rabbit character Usagi Yojimbo.  Usagi has stood the test of time, enduring in his own title since 1987.  A great talent and a nice guy to boot. 
A fun signature from Stan!

I never thought I would Charlton Comics legend Joe Staton.  Staton has been drawing comics professionally as long as I've been alive.  I've never known him to do conventions, but that's my mistake as it looks like he has nine lined up this year alone.  I was introduced to his work in the revival of "E-Man" by First Comics in the 1980s.  I've always been drawn to the cartooniness of his Michael Mauser, P.I. character.  Joe is the current artist on the "Dick Tracy" comic strip.

Speaking of comic strips, I also got to meet Dan Davis, one of the artists of "Garfield."  Like Staton, Davis has drawn a lot of Scooby-Doo.  I wish the con organizers had thought of doing a Scooby panel!

Overall, it was a fun show.  I found some things I was looking for, and stuff I didn't even know I was looking for!
Wasn't looking for this...but pretty interesting stuff by Al Hubbard!

Believe it or not, I was looking for this!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Two Milton Caniff original illustrations were sold last week at auction.  The paintings were done for a the Aviation Hall of Fame (AHF) and a special program they had honoring the history of flight.  Caniff did several illustrations for collectible envelopes depicting aviation greats and historic scenes.  They were sold by subscription to AHF members.  These were sold before in 2008.  The seller at that time claimed he was the nephew of the man who put the project together, that it was done in 1976 and that the finished product was never widely circulated.  The fact that the only envelopes that have ever surfaced were from the first phase seems to bear this out.

Here Caniff depicted Billy Mitchell, an aviation pioneer considered the father of the U.S. Air Force.  The painting area is 5.5" x 10". 

This same picture was reproduced in Caniff: A Visual Biography in a two page spread devoted to this AHF envelope program (p.312-313).  The figure of Billy Mitchell was not on any of the eight existing envelopes.

My guess is that the illustration was a preliminary for this final piece above, created by joining the backs of two of the envelopes together.  The scene is of the court martial of Mitchell in 1925 for insubordination.  Mitchell was posthumously honored by FDR with the Congressional Gold Medal.  The B-25 Mitchell bomber was named for him.

This next painting is from one of the eight envelopes.  The "hat in the ring" gang was the nickname of the 94th Aero Squadron, the first American aviation unit in WWI.  Eddie Rickenbacker, America's top World War I flying ace, was one of its members.  

They sold for $145 apiece on Ebay.  According to Worthpoint's database, they sold for $52 combined in 2008.  Quite a nice return.  The AHF is now the National Aviation Hall of Fame.  You can visit the Hall at the Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton.  Of particular interest there is the wall of honoree portraits, most of which were drawn by Caniff.

Monday, March 11, 2013


I'm not sure how long it's been up, but it was news to me, so it gets the lead-off spot.  The website for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum has an online exhibit on Milton Caniff.  Milton Caniff: An American Master  is a terrific introduction to Caniff's life and career in photos and artwork.  If you are a Caniff novice who has somehow stumbled on this blog, I recommend taking a look.

Hermes Press has announced that they will begin reprinting George Wunder's run on "Terry & the Pirates".  Wunder's "Terry," which ran from 1947 - 73, has only seen sporadic reprinting in comics and in low-print run magazines, such as The Missing Years.  The first volume will reprint the strips from 1946 (Wunder took over on 12/30/46) through 1948, with the Sundays in color.  Like many Caniff fans, I've never taken to Wunder's art, but then I've lacked exposure as well.  Many fans, for whom Wunder's "Terry" was the one they grew up, love it dearly.  I'm looking forward to the discovery.  This book is currently scheduled for release on July 2nd.

The February 2013 issue of Comics Revue is out.  Numbered #321-322, it reprints "Steve Canyon" from July 9th to August 5th, 1972.  Poteet Canyon gets in over her head infiltrating an anarchist group, then the action switches to Steve and Summer doing the cloak & dagger bit in Ireland.

Other highlights of this issue include "Alley Oop" Sundays in color, Al Williamson drawing "Secret Agent Corrigan" in a far out space adventure, and the first reprinting of "The Phantom" strips from 1949 when they experimented with running a continuing story between the dailies and Sundays.

A biography of cartoonist Al Capp debuted last week.  "Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary" tells the story of the successful and often tempestuous life of the creator of "Li'l Abner," one of the most popular comic strips of all time.  Capp and Caniff were lifelong friends, from their first meeting in 1932 until Capp's death in 1979.  I haven't read the book, but there are several Caniff references in the index.  The book was co-writtin by Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen.  Schumacher has previously written a biography of Will Eisner, another Caniff friend and peer.  Kitchen is no stranger to the subject, having published 27 volumes of "Li'l Abner" under his company Kitchen Sink.  Kitchen was also the publisher of "Steve Canyon Magazine" in the 1980s, as well as the 1987 "Male Call" reprint book.

The Caniff/James Bond Connection - A U.S. Military website - DVIDS - recently ran a profile of Charles Russhon, a retired USAF colonel who was an adviser on several Bond films in the 1960s and '70s.  Russhon served in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater in WWII with Col. Phil Cochran.  Cochran is known better to Caniffites as the real-life analogue to Flip Corkin in "Terry & the Pirates."  Russhon was also a friend of Caniff (I assume meeting through Cochran) who also was turned into a character.  Russhon was "Charlie Vanilla," nicknamed for his quirk addiction to ice cream.  Read all about his contribution to the Bond films here.

In this copy of a classic press photo above, Charlie Vanilla is the character Caniff has circled in the picture.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Here's some rainy day fun from 1968.  The Newspaper Comics Council brought together 45 different comic strips from rival syndicates in one book.  Push out the picture, then paste it onto the corresponding comic strip.  But wait, you don't even need paste, just a moist towel.  Here are six examples below, starting off with "Steve Canyon" (naturally).

Now my gift to you, dear reader.  Print these out and play at home.  But, uh, you might need paste.