Monday, April 28, 2014


Apparently when she wasn't torturing her kids or pushing Pepsi on everybody, Joan Crawford was a heckuva nice gal.  She had a friendly relationship with Milton Caniff, who often cited her as an inspiration for his most famous femme fatale - the Dragon Lady.

Here's a better look at the drawing Caniff was giving to Ms. Crawford in 1964.  It sold at auction last year for $2100.

Here's another drawing he did for her in 1965.  I'm not sure of the dimensions or what the occasion was, but it resembles his "chalk talk" style.

Their friendliness continued.  Here's Caniff's response to a letter from Crawford in 1973.  She had written him earlier that year regarding the ending of "Terry and the Pirates", after the death of George Wunder.

I always thought Copper Calhoon, the villainess from "Steve Canyon", looked more like Joan.  It appears in the press photo that she was flattered by Caniff, though she likely gently reminded him, "No wire hangers!"

The press photo at the top of this post came from an article on Caniff by his nephew, Harry Guyton.  You can find that article at the Animation Resources website.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Earlier this month I took my boys to Gem City Comic Con in Dayton.  This was my second year attending a fun show with good guests and amazing deals.

The guests were the focus of my 'to do' list.  First up, writer Mike Barr, co-creator of the Outsiders, we'll remembered for his years writing Batman and Star Trek comics.  Mike still freelances, recently for Bongo Comics and for Star Wars magazine (on stands now).

Mark Waid is one of the best comics writers around.  He currently writes Daredevil and Hulk.  I thanked him for the two times he saved Captain America, having taken over from mediocre or downright awful writers and bringing new vitality to the book.

I had Waid sign my copy of Superman: The Golden Age Sundays 1943-1946, for which he wrote the forward.  I learned his more important contribution to the book was that the strips reprinted in the book came from his personal collection.  He had long been hoping for a way to archive or protect these strips, as of all of his collection they were the hardest thing to replace.  Now they are not only preserved but enjoyed by the world.

photo by Noah (age 6)

The big treat for me was meeting comics artist/writer/historian Trina Robbins (though she calls herself an 'herstorian').  Robbins' greatest contribution, in my view, is as champion/documenter of the women cartoonists who came before her.  These women had to fight hard to get recognized in the boys' club of cartoonists.  Without Robbins' works, like "A Century of Women Cartoonists" or Pretty in Ink, many of these names might have been lost to obscurity.  Robbins is still writing new graphic novels as well, which you can read more about at her site.

Robbins started out as an artist in underground comix in the 1970s, in such feminist titles as "Wimmen's Comix" and "Girl Fight Comics."  These comics not only presented a woman's point of view in a male-dominated industry, but also explored female sexuality (see, didn't I say that nicely?).  She signed copy of "Wet Satin" #1 by writing - "To Matt, Best X-Rated wishes - Trina Robbins."  Now, you may ask, is it a little awkward to have a 75 year old woman sign her old nudie comics for you?  Yes.  Yes it is.

Scrounging for some good reads worked out for me as well.  I was happy to find some Disney comics drawn by Al Hubbard, an underrated Disney artist.  My best find was "Abraham Stone," a 1991 Joe Kubert graphic novel that I passed over in my youthful ignorance.

The boys were with me, too.  They had a good time, but mainly because somebody was selling Legos!