While I’ve noted Robert C. Harvey’s 952-page tribute to cartoonist Milton Caniff is far too hefty for casual reading — trying holding it upright while lying in bed at night — I don’t want to suggest it’s not worthy.
Meanwhile … is exhaustive, and that’s part of its virtue, too. Points in the text are aptly supported with examples from Caniff’s work, as well as from contemporaries and pals Al Capp, Noel “Bud” Sickles and others. And it boasts a good number of photos, including even a couple shots of the walls of the Palm, the 1930s speakeasy where New York City-based cartoonists hung out and drank, when not scribbling their work on the vertical surfaces.
Yes, Harvey and Fantagraphics could have broken this into two volumes or, gee, maybe left out a few details. (While waxing about Caniff’s first arrival in Manhattan to work for Associated Press, Harvey names all the theaters Caniff could have spied while standing at 42nd Street and Broadway … and the names of what shows were playing there and who was starring in them.)
But if you want to know just about everything about how the oft-called Rembrandt of the Comics rose and rose even more in his chosen profession — from early days in Ohio to chatting with U.S. presidents — this is the golden source. Nary a negative word is said about its subject, but I can’t imagine finding a more thorough and entertaining trove of information.
Read my earlier posts on this book here and here.