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Biographies of the Stars

Milton Caniff

Born February 28, 1907 this Hillsboro, the Ohio native graduated from Ohio State University in 1930. Moving to New York City in 1932 he secured a job with the Associated Press Syndicate and created his first strip, "The Gay Thirties", a single panel strip. In 1933 he created his first popular character in "Dickie Dare", an adventure strip featuring a small boy.

The following year, when Captain Joseph Patterson was looking for an artist/writer to create a new adventure strip fro the Daily News, he tapped Caniff, who in turn created "Terry & the Pirates", and the rest is history.

Terry was an immediate smash hit when it debuted on October 22, 1934 (as a daily strip, the Sunday page first appeared in December), and it's success propelled Caniff forever into the eyes of the American public.

Throughout the thirties Caniff's "Terry" entertained millions and was as influential in that decade as Mad Magazine and Famous Monsters Magazine would be in the fifties and sixties.

During the thirties he was associated with the very talented Noel Sickles who worked with Caniff in his studio and the two worked on each other's strips (Sickles drew the aviation strip "Scorchy Smith"). Their combined techniques created a cinematic style that was previously unseen in the comics (it was however influenced by Roy Crane's progressive style).

In the forties, Caniff did a strip for the military featuring curvaceous and scantily clad females. the strip "Male Call" was extremely popular with our men in the armed services and it ran throughout the war.

He worked on Terry and the Pirates until the end of 1946 when, disgruntled by the fact that the Tribune Syndicate would not relinquish partial copyright ownership of the characters Caniff created within the framework of his existing contract, he jumped ship to Field Enterprises Syndicate with the promise of total control of his new strip, "Steve Canyon".

Steve Canyon proved to be an enormous success as well and Caniff continued to draw the strip for forty-one years.

Influential creators of the medium and his contribution to the comics field can be seen in almost every panel drawn today. As early as 1934 he was emulated by artists the likes of Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. There is a virtual litany of artists who credit him as their seminal influence.

But his influence can be also be seen in the international cinema through the works of such talented directors as Federico Fellini and Orson Welles (Welles reportedly wrote a fan letter to Caniff while Citizen Kane was premiering in theatres, and Fellini had frequent contact with Caniff).

Caniff's icons extend further than either of these realms. During World War II air force pilots adorned their planes with his symbols (he did a special emblem for several planes), and the Dragon Lady has been the model of Asian intrigue & beauty for decades.

Caniff served as the President of the National Cartoonist's Society from 1948-49 and has been often referred to as "the Rembrandt of Comics". He received the Reuben Award as best cartoonist in for 1946 for his work on Terry & the Pirates, and again in 1971 for Steve Canyon.

Caniff died in New York on May 3, 1988 in New York City, and though gone, he will never be forgotten.

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