Saturday, September 18, 2010

Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates

Mark Twain once said — at least I recall it was Mark Twain, rather than Ben Franklin, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker or Groucho Marx — most writers really would prefer you read what they wrote instead of reading biographies about them.

Finding out how artists came by their inspirations and how they developed their crafts sometimes can be as fascinating as their actual work. Certainly Robert C. Harvey’s Meanwhile …., his book on Milton Caniff, is extensive and well worth the effort, with a good many samples of the cartoonist’s drawings. (You can read my posts on the biography here, here and here.)

But keep in mind IDW has been publishing handsome editions of the Ohioan’s masterwork, Terry and the Pirates. In black-and-white and color from 1934 on, you follow the adventures of Terry Lee, Pat Ryan and Connie — the “three modern musketeers,” Caniff called them — and their assorted friends — Burma, Normandie Drake, Big Stoop — and enemies — Judas, the Dragon Lady, bandits, Chinese pirates and, eventually, the whole of the Axis military.

Terry may not have been the original adventure newspaper comic strip, but certainly the most sustained and sophisticated.

Hotsy doodle.

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