Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988Alternative names
American cartoonist, best known for the long-running comic strips Terry and the pirates and Steve Canyon. Lived for many years in New City, NY as a neighbor of Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Maxwell Anderson, Alan Jay Lerner, and others. Also an original board member of the Kurt Weill for Music thanks to his long association with Lenya. Caniff died in 1988.
From the description of An oral history interview with Milton Caniff / conducted for the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music by Donald Spoto, New York City, 1985 October 15 : recording and transcript. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122579914
Milton Arthur Caniff (1907-1988) was an American cartoonist. An important figure in the development of the newspaper comic strip, Caniff created the long-running and highly successful comic strips Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon .
Originally from southern Ohio, Caniff grew up in the Dayton area, the home and headquarters of the aviation pioneers the Wright Brothers (and later on, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). Caniff studied fine arts at Ohio State University, graduating in 1930. While still in college, Caniff began working in the art department at the local Columbus Dispatch where he would encounter two of the major influences on his career-the legendary editorial cartoonist Billy Ireland, who would serve as his professional mentor, and Noel Sickles, an aspiring young artist who would later play an influential role in Caniff's stylistic development.
Caniff made the trek to New York City in 1932, signing on as a staff artist with the Associated Press. After working on a variety of comic strips- Puffy the Pig, Mister Gilfeather, The Gay Thirties -he got his big break with the adventure strip Dickie Dare in 1933. The strip soon caught the attention of the influential newspaper publisher, Joseph Medill Patterson, who quickly hired Caniff to do a new adventure strip for his Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate. The resulting creation, Terry and the Pirates, made its newspaper debut October 2, 1934 and was an immediate success. The strip featured some compelling characters and Caniff had an innate flair for story-lines, but initially the strip didn't have the signature "look" that would ultimately distinguish it. As many scholars have detailed, it was the influence of Caniff's then studio-mate, Noel Sickles, that made the definitive difference. As Caniff himself tells it:
It was he [Sickles] who developed the use of heavy black-and-white, light-and-shade style (which I gratefully followed) using a brush first for all shadows, then a quill pen for the light edges. [...] The important thing here is that the elaborate illustrative style could be applied to six strips and a Sunday page by one man during a normal (seven days and nights) working week. [...] Noel Sickles contributed more to the success of the Terry drawings than any single person. (Harvey, Robert C. ed., Milton Caniff: Conversations , Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2002. p. 92-93).
In 1947, after years of success with Terry and the Pirates, Caniff left the strip to fellow AP staff artist George Wunder (who continued it until 1973), and moved on to his new creation, Steve Canyon . This strip, centered on the archetypal cold warrior and Air Force pilot, would run forty-some years and would come to typify the signature elements of Caniff's art. As with his earlier feature, the beautifully rendered, cinematic panels of Steve Canyon, visually compelling in their own right, were always subordinate to the narrative sweep of the stories. In fact, it may be Caniff's ultimate dedication to story-telling that defines his greatest artistic achievement. As his friend, the writer Pete Hamill relates: Milton Caniff was one of the greatest creators of popular fiction of the twentieth century (Hamill, Pete. "Milton Caniff" in Masters of American Comics, Yale University Press, 2005. p. 229). Steve Canyon ended its run with Milton Caniff's death in 1988.
Milton Caniff has received many awards and recognitions over the course of his long career, including the National Cartoonist Society's prestigious Reuben Award in 1946 and 1971, and the Air Force Exceptional Service Award. He has received honorary doctorates from the Atlanta Law School, the University of Dayton and The Ohio State University. His work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries, and is part of the permanent collections of the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His papers were the founding gift for the Cartoon Research Library and Museum at The Ohio State University.
From the guide to the Milton Caniff Collection, 1949-1956, 1950-1951, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New City (N.Y.)|
|Caricatures and cartoons--United States|
|Cold War--Comic books, strips, etc|
|American wit and humor, Pictorial|
|Steve Canyon (Fictitious character)|
|Canyon, Steve (Fictitious character)--Scrapbooks|
|Adventure stories--Comic books, strips, etc|
|Scrapbooks--Comic books, strips, etc|
|Comic books, strips, etc.--United States|
|War--Comic books, strips, etc|