Fantasy Comics Page & One of Their Own

Fifty-four years ago, on September 15, 1964, the New York World’s Fair marked “Steve Canyon Day” and honored the picaresque hero’s creator, Milton Caniff.

And why not? Caniff had spent most of that summer weaving a tale set at the Fair involving both Canyons, Steve and his collegiate cousin, Poteet. The World’s Fair, being staged in New York, was heavily covered by all major forms of media, and a Canyon storyline set at the huge exhibition was a promotional boon to several subscriber newspapers, as this ad from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates:

On Steve Canyon Day, Caniff and his guests were shuttled around the fairgrounds, accompanied by the Air Force band. The Rembrandt of the Comics was awarded the Fair’s Silver Medallion, and the National Cartoonist Society presented him with its first-ever “Golden Scroll Award,” while the Air Force also honored Milton for his contributions to his most favored branch of the armed services.

So what did other comics strips look like on Steve Canyon Day, September 15, 1964? We found a handful of interesting and fun features and assembled them into this “fantasy comics page.” See if you agree with us that any newspaper that could have assembled this lineup would be doing its readers a great service …

A few notes on the strips we selected — we had fun finding the Donald Duck for this date featured everyone’s favorite skinflint, Uncle $crooge, and we were pleased to include the day’s installment of Ben Casey, since Neal Adams is a wonderful talent and personality (did you catch his “audio book” version of Tom King/Lee Weeks’s surprise smash hit, Batman/Elmer Fudd? You’ll find it here).  Since the James Bond comic strip was not distributed in the U.S., it would be hard for any American newspaper to include it in their lineup, but hey, it’s a fantasy comics page, right? It was fun to see this still-early version of Andy Capp (and we got a wry smile out of it being attributed to “Red” — not “Reg” — Smythe). Finally, we were amused to see Harold Gray making Annie and Sandy “come clean,” while in Li’l Abner, the Yokums find themselves in the midst of a feud between two wealthy siblings who are vying for an added ten million dollars stashed by their father before his death. The only clue to the whereabouts of the loot is on a two-headed Huntley/Brinkley doll that has been filched by Li’l Abner — well, he tried to steal it, but raced into a closet instead. Who could blame Abner for being even more confused than usual? The “psychopathic pig” you see in this strip from September 15th had planted a two-way radio in Abner’s molar, turning him into an unwilling slave under threat of bombarding him with that hit song by The Beasties, “I Wanna Hold Your Ham”!

The Beasties are nowhere in sight during the 1964 World’s Fair, but you’ll be able to see Poteet Canyon’s adventure at the Fair when Steve Canyon Volume 9 goes on sale next year. Please be watching for it!

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