Archive | Caniff

A Betty White Christmas (with Flip Corkin as Rudolph!)

As we pause for a bit here at The Library of American Comics — to celebrate the holidays, see out the old year, and prepare to mark our 200th release — we wanted to take something of a trip back to The Way It All Began (kudos to you if you pinpointed the source of that reference without resorting to Google or Bing) …

One of our axioms is, “The more we know, the more there is to know,” and we do indeed accumulate additional knowledge as we research ongoing topics like Milton Caniff, the impresario behind Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates. At the appropriate place in our Terry series we devoted space to Phil Cochran, Caniff’s friend who served as the template for fictional Colonel “Flip” Corkin, seen below with nurse Taffy Tucker and Flip’s star pupil, young Terry Lee himself:

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The Penultimate LOAC Wheel of Fortune

Throughout 2019 we’ve been following the LOAC road to our two hundredth release by running a monthly LOAC Wheel of Fortune, choosing a theme and the books from our decade-plus backlist that fits into it, then loading those results into the Wheel, giving it a spin, and shining the spotlight on the randomly-chosen result. Since November is the eleventh month, and since eleven is represented by two “1”s, we decided to start with our 11th book and include every subsequent “ends-in-1” release to see what we’d get. The results are pretty interesting:

This month’s LOAC Wheel of Fortune list. What’s with the colorful “06” next to Superman Atomic Age Sundays Volume 1? Blame it on Red Kryptonite, folks!

We certainly don’t plan any patterns with thoughts of, “Wouldn’t it be great if Book X corresponded to release number Y?”, but a big scoop of randomness placed our first two Li’l Abner releases ten books apart, and the pattern repeated between the Caniff artbook and Steve Canyon Volume 1, and between Star Wars Volumes 2 and 3. It’s the luck of the draw.

And speaking of luck, we shuffled the list into random order and here’s how it looked:

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Important News for All Caniffites

Last June, we ran this piece to ask you to join us in wishing a Happy 100th Birthday to Lieutenant Colonel Bernice V. Taylor, the World War II Army nurse who served as Milton Caniff’s model for Terry and the Pirates‘s popular character, Taffy Tucker.

Lt. Col. Taylor’s niece, Judith Bernice Taylor Holliday, reached out to us with this news from April 28th, 2019:

It is with great sadness that I am notifying you that Lt. Col. Bernice Taylor, who was the ‘face’ of Nurse Taffy Tucker in the Terry and the Pirates series of comics during WWII, died peacefully this morning in hospice at the age of 100 years, 10 months and 7 days.  She had been in failing health for several months. She lived an extraordinary life, and her race is run.  

She will be interred after graveside military services at Olive Branch Cemetery, White Cloud, KS, in mid-May.  

While ‘Aunt Bernice’ didn’t engage in the antics of Nurse Taffy, her character in the comics cheered many lonely Air Force soldiers far from home, most of whom are now gone.  For Terry and the Pirates fans, though, she will live on. 

You paid a wonderful tribute to Bernice on her 95th birthday, which the family appreciated.  Please add this final chapter to her story.

Like so many of The Greatest Generation, Lt. Col. Taylor was reluctant to speak of her War-years experiences, even to family members. “The war has been over for a long time,” Judy Holliday quoted Bernice as saying during our initial e-mail exchange in 2013. But it was — and remains — a great honor to have a picture of her, at age 95, with a copy of our fifth Terry and the Pirates volume:

We know you will join us in paying respects to Lt. Col. Taylor, and thanking her for both her service to our country in its time of dire need, and for her place in helping to shape comics history.

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During their lifetimes there was little overlap between Milton Caniff and Walt Disney, but news reached us a few days after Judy Holliday’s sad note that provides a modern-day intersection of sorts between the two: Disney Legend Floyd Norman — who needs no introduction to Disney fans worldwide, and who was so gracious and helpful to us during the preparation of our third Alex Toth book, Genius, Animated — will receive the National Cartoonist Society’s Milton Caniff Award in mid-May.

You can read — and see — more about Mr. Norman and the NCS award in this Daily Cartoonist article. Congratulations, Mr. Norman, for this richly-deserved accolade!

 

Ad-dicting & En-LIFE-ening

We continue our look at comics-related ads that appeared in Life Magazine, previously begun here. This time, just for fun, we’ll go in reverse-chronological order and start at the tag-end of the 1950s. I was but a wee bairn of two months and twenty-five days old (and Stevenson B. Canyon was once again crossing paths and trading barbs with “The Copperhead,” Copper Calhoon) when this ad for Teacher’s Scotch, starring the one-and-only Milton Caniff, appeared in Life‘s October 12, 1959 issue:

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Ad-ing LIFE to the Comics

In various LOAC books we’ve shown (and discussed) examples of the intersection between comics and the world of advertising, yet it’s not a topic we’ve lingered over in this space. I decided to change that just a bit recently, when going through the contents of a bunch of Life Magazines. (One of the perks of this job is being able to sift through old magazines and newspapers, to get a look at — or in some cases, remember — The Way It Used to Be.) These Lifes had a variety of comics-based advertisements, so I snagged a batch of them to share with you.

The earliest Life ad I found with a comics connection was in the magazine’s April 15, 1940 issue. I knew Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff were popular, but until I saw this I had no idea they were experts on digestive difficulties …

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Episode 013 with special guest Don McGregor

Dean Mullaney and Kurtis Findlay are back for another episode of the Library of American Comics & EuroComics Podcast!

In this special episode, Dean and Kurtis invite Don McGregor to talk about this favorite classic comic strips, including Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon and Dick Tracy!

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Back to the Shelves

Several years ago we took some time in this space to show you what my LOAC bookshelf looked like. I shelve my books in alphabetical order by author, or by publisher where that makes more sense — for instance, while my William Saroyans are under “S”, my Fantastic Fours are under “M”, with the rest of my Marvel Comics collections. My Library of American Comics titles are therefore under “L,” and then shelved alphabetically in a logical way (well, logical to me, anyway), as you can see:

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Steve Canyon: Still Swinging in the Sixties!

One of the key points I raised in my text feature for Steve Canyon Volume 8 was that Milton Caniff’s picaresque adventure strip was still a hot property as the Sixties began to unfold. The perceived “Communist threat” was a very real part of life during that period, and the nuclear specter hung heavily over citizens of many countries (having spent my single-digit childhood years in the ’60s, I clearly remember the bi-level department store in my hometown, with both ground-level and basement shopping, and how the stairwells leading down to the basement prominently displayed “Fallout Shelter” decals). We too often try to examine the works of the past from a modern-day sensibility, ignoring a simple but accurate truth: It Was a Different World Back Then. (And our society couldn’t have arrived where it is today without our grandparents, parents, and some of us living through the way it was then … but that’s a thought for another day and another forum).

While doing some advance work for Canyon Volume 9 — which will feature more never-before-reprinted stories, this time from the years 1963-64 — the power of the feature to serve as a “draw” was once again brought home to me as I saw the plethora of advertisements and promotions for the series that ran in various client newspapers. Here’s a small cross-section of them, sure to whet the appetite of any Caniffite:

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Boys & Their Toys

So I’m busily working away on the text feature for Steve Canyon Volume 8 (a juicy assemblage of material that includes Milton Caniff turning real-life incidents into story fodder!) and I get this e-mail from my dear, long-time friend Doug Thornsjo. If you read the Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim you got a taste of Doug’s writing (and his voluminous knowledge of movie serials) in Volume 2, in which he produced an article about Buster Crabbe’s three chapterplay turns as Flash.

Doug knew that in Canyon we had provided some coverage of the Ideal toy line based on Milton Caniff’s high-flying colonel, items like the Jet Helmet …

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