Today, we have an exciting post for you… original artwork by Milton Caniff for the Steve Canyon newspaper strip.
Animation Resources supporter, John Ellis is working with the family of Milton Caniff on a DVD release of the live action Steve Canyon television series, which debuted in September of 1958 on NBC. In searching through the family’s collection of memorabilia, John stumbled across a batch of original inks of daily and Sunday pages that the family didn’t realize that they had. The estate of Milton Caniff has generously allowed Animation Resources to digitize the material for inclusion in our cartoon database.
John Ellis has been doing considerable research into Caniff and Steve Canyon. I asked him to write a few words about Caniff…
Milton Caniff has been referred to as "The Rembrandt of the Comic Strip", and oft by himself as "an Armchair Marco Polo", but in fact this whirlwind of a comic strip innovator and writer was essentially a sincerely nice man who loved to draw. Yes this gentleman born in Hillsboro Ohio in 1907 created and drew Terry and The Pirates from 1934 to 1946, which absolutely set the standard for the adventure comic strip. True, he raised the bar with Steve Canyon, which unlike Terry, he owned lock stock and barrel from the first daily strip in January 1947 through to June 1988, the final installment published shortly after his death. Absolutely he worked rain or shine, seven days/strips a week for 54 years, even from his hospital bed, the deadlines never ended.
Milton Caniff in his studio ca. 1947
(click for a larger view)
But beyond the art and dedication, what is true is that I’ve never heard an unkind word in his regard. His nephew Harry Guyton can’t even remember Milton ever losing his temper. My friend David Haft, who produced the NBC Steve Canyon primetime TV series in 1958, made a comment as we watched Milton on a vintage filmclip promoting the series recently. He said "Lovely, lovely man". Happy 100th birthday Milton.
Make sure to click on the images to see high resolution versions. Caniff’s amazing adventure strip from the late 40s has never looked better!
For info on the Steve Canyon TV show DVD, see… www.stevecanyondvd.blogspot.com
Fantagraphics has a great book on Caniff’s career, and Checker has released year by year reprints of the classic Steve Canyon strip. Caniff was a master storyteller, and the first few years of Steve Canyon are examples of his genius at the height of its powers. Click on the pictures of the books for more info.
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.