Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988

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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)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Windsor, Tommy. Windsor Indoor Chautauqua Collection, [between 1920 and 1939?]. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Mendez, Toni. Toni Mendez collection. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Steve Canyon / Milton Caniff. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Dickie Dare scrapbook / by Milton Caniff. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Wurz, John Francis, 1885-1965. John Francis Wurz papers, 1947-1966. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection : Newspaper Comic Strips, 1893-1996 The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
referencedIn Henry Varnum Poor papers, 1873-2001, bulk dates 1904-1970 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Steve Canyon / Milton Caniff. Michigan State University Libraries, Main Library
creatorOf McCutcheon, John T. (John Tinney), 1870-1949. Album of letters from cartoonists. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Steve Canyon master file scrapbooks / Milton Caniff. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf University of Missouri--Columbia. Libraries. Special Collections and Rare Books. The Steve Canyon and Miss Mizzou collection, 1952-1996. University of Missouri -- Columbia, MU Libraries; University of Missouri; MU; Ellis Library; University of Missouri Columbia
referencedIn Mauldin, Bill, 1921-2003. Papers of Bill Mauldin, 1941-1968. Library of Congress
creatorOf Boys, Richard Charles, 1912-. Correspondence, 1949-1954. University of Michigan
referencedIn Martin, Henry, 1925-. Henry Martin cartoon collection. Princeton University Library
referencedIn James Parton papers, 1914-1986. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Letter to Prof. [Norman Charles] Meier. New York, NY. 1962-1966. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Ohio State University. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Milton Caniff 1907-1988 biographical file. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Baker, George, 1915-1975. Bernard Meeks Cartoon Collection [manuscript] 1860-1945. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn National Cartoonists Society Interviews, 1959-1962 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. The papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn General Cartoon Collection, 1870-1995, 1930-1949 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Feiffer, Jules. Jules Feiffer papers, 1919-1995 (bulk 1950-1990). Library of Congress
referencedIn Bill Mauldin Papers, 1941-1970 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Crawford, Bill, 1913-1982. National Cartoonists Society Living Library 1962. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf National Cartoonists Society. Record, 1946-1990. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988,. 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
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Steve Canyon / Milton Caniff. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Alvah Posen Papers, 1919-1959 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Pogo Collection, 1949-1989, 1949-1989 The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Milton Caniff : clipping file. Michigan State University Libraries, Main Library
creatorOf Milton Caniff Collection, 1949-1956, 1950-1951 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Harvey, Robert C. Meanwhile : the life and art of Milton Caniff / [by Robert C. Harvey]. Michigan State University Libraries, Main Library
referencedIn United States. Civilian Defense Corps. North Clarkstown unit logbooks, 1942-1943. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Steve Canyon comic strip, 1953 August 11. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf López, Carlos, 1913-1995. [World War II Scrapbook], 194-? Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Field Enterprises. Field Enterprises records, 1858-2007, bulk 1950-1975. Newberry Library
creatorOf Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988. Steve Canyon cartoon [manuscript] 1953 Aug. 15. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Jules Feiffer Papers, 1919-1995, (bulk 1950-1990) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Charles G. Wright Collection of Big Little Books, 1933-1943 Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Charles G. Wright Collection of Big Little Books, 1933-1943 Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Folkman, David, 1946-. Collection, 1961-2003. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Caniff, Milton, 1908- : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Audiovisual Collection. 1957 - 2006. Photographs Relating to the Administration, Family, and Personal Life of Harry S. Truman. 1957 - 2004. President Harry S. Truman Poses With Completed Cartoon Portraits
creatorOf Sickles, Noel. Papers, [ca. 1930]-[ca. 1980]. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Anderson, Hesper,. An oral history interview with Hesper Anderson / conducted for the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music by A. Chaffee, New York, N.Y., 1988 December 15 : recording and transcript. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
creatorOf Kinnaird, Clark, 1901-1983. Papers, 1858-1977 (bulk 1919-1977). University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
referencedIn Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. The papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 1921 - 2008. Motion Picture Films and Video Recordings on Five Decades of U.S. Military Activities Around the World. 1950 - 2000. Veterans Day
referencedIn Register to the Papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984, inclusive Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn White mss., 1932-1969 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Milton Caniff Collection, 1805-2007, 1910-1988 The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
referencedIn Lenya, Lotte, 1898-1981. General correspondence, [ca. 1920]-1981. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Milton Caniff Drawings, 1971 Wright State University, Special Collections and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anderson, Hesper, person
associatedWith Anderson, Mab. person
associatedWith Boucher, Anthony, 1911-1968 person
associatedWith Boys, Richard Charles, 1912- person
associatedWith Davis, George, 1906-1957. person
associatedWith Detwiler, Russell. person
correspondedWith Feiffer, Jules. person
correspondedWith Feiffer, Jules. person
associatedWith Field Enterprises. corporateBody
associatedWith Folkman, David, 1946- person
associatedWith Hammarskjöld, Dag, 1905-1961. person
associatedWith Harvey, Robert C. person
associatedWith Kinnaird, Clark, 1901-1983. person
associatedWith Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. corporateBody
associatedWith Leigh, Vivien, 1913-1967. person
associatedWith Lenya, Lotte, 1898-1981. person
associatedWith López, Carlos, 1913-1995 person
associatedWith Martin, Henry, 1925- person
associatedWith Mauldin, Bill, 1921-2003. person
associatedWith Meier, Norman Charles, 1893- , person
associatedWith Mendez, Toni. person
associatedWith Milton Caniff person
associatedWith National Aviation Hall of Fame (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Cartoonists Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Parton, James, 1912- person
associatedWith Poor, Henry Varnum person
correspondedWith Posen, Alvah person
associatedWith Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith San Francisco Academy of Comic Art. Bill Blackbeard, Director corporateBody
associatedWith Selby Kelly person
associatedWith Sickles, Noel. person
associatedWith Siemanowski, Richard. person
associatedWith Spoto, Donald, 1941- person
associatedWith Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Civilian Defense Corps. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Virginia corporateBody
associatedWith Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. person
associatedWith Wright, Charles G. (Charles Gerald), 1930- person
associatedWith Wurz, John Francis, 1885-1965. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New City (N.Y.)
Subject
Caricatures and cartoons--United States
Cold War--Comic books, strips, etc
American wit and humor, Pictorial
Scrapbooks
Steve Canyon (Fictitious character)
Canyon, Steve (Fictitious character)--Scrapbooks
Art--Cartoonists
Cartoonists--United States
Adventure stories--Comic books, strips, etc
Scrapbooks--Comic books, strips, etc
Comic books, strips, etc.--United States
War--Comic books, strips, etc
Occupation
Cartoonists
Function

Person

Birth 1907-02-28

Death 1988-04-03

Americans

English

Information

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