Saturday, July 26, 2014


This week is Comic Con International, the largest, most talked about comic book convention of the year.  40 years ago, it was a more low key affair, but featured as guests men who were considered legends even then.  Granddaddy among them was Milton Caniff, then age 67 and over a quarter century into "Steve Canyon."  Caniff did the cover program, which featured Poteet Canyon, Bitsy Beekman, Steve and Summer Canyon.  The costumes are a little far out, but show that Caniff was hip to the scene.

Each guest had their own profile page.  Caniff took the opportunity to spotlight two other members of his cast - Oley Olson (son of Summer) and Stalky Schweisenberger (Oley's girl, who spoke only in one word sentences.  The profile of Caniff includes his bio from "Who's Who in America" as well as a personal account from Con co-founder Shel Dorf.

Dorf appears elsewhere in the program with his message to attendees.  I presume it was this con experience that solidified Caniff's relationship with Dorf, seeing him as more than a fan, but a pro doing his part to run a convention.  Dorf would accept Caniff's invitation to letter the "Canyon" strip in 1977. On either side of Dorf's column are illustrated well-wishes from two artists - "Jeff Cobb" artist Pete Hoffman and legendary Disney Duck comic book artist Carl Barks in a pseudo-self portrait.  "Cobb" would leave the funny papers in 1975.

As a fan of Charles Schulz since I could read, it boggles my mind to think that I could have met him and more recent hero Caniff at the same place!

Ok, throw in Russ Manning, too.  Wow!  Here's a guy who just now seems to be getting his due for turning out solid, clean, dynamic artwork for decades.  Check out his "Korak" and "Magnus Robot Fighter" comic book reprints from Dark Horse, or the Library of American Comics' "Tarzan" reprints.  Volume 3 comes out on Tuesday.

More spot illos and well-wishes from the program.  Fantasy artist Phil Garris and comic/animation artist Doug Wildey.  This Wildey picture confuses me, as I didn't know his Western character Rio predated the early '80s, when he appeared in Eclipse Monthly.  I wonder why he didn't use his then-running strip "Ambler."

Cracked Magazine's Sylvester P. Smythe by John Severin and Will Eisner's Spirit.  Cracked was probably at its peak circulation at this time, and The Spirit magazine was being published by Warren.

An evocative note from Alex Toth that makes you want to leave the con and hit the beach.  Genius, Animated, the third and final part of the Toth biography from the Library of American Comics, came out last month.

I'll leave you with one last illustration - the center spread from the program.  This is possibly the oddest jam drawing of all time.  Russell Myers' comic strip witch Broom Hilda faces off against Jack Kirby's Demon, with Schulz's Snoopy and Linus caught in the middle.  I've seen this one make the web rounds before, but it's so bizarre it's worth repeating.