Milton Caniff's first effort in the comic field dates
from 1922, when he began working as an illustrator for some
local newspapers. At age 25, Caniff was hired by Associated
Press, and brought to New York in 1932. A year later, he
was handed a children's adventure strip called 'Dickie Dare'.
Influenced by such strips as 'Flash Gordon' and 'Brick Bradford',
Caniff took Dickie on the ride of his life.
It was Joseph Patterson at the New York Daily News
who noticed the 'Dickie Dare' strip and quickly hired Caniff
for a new adventure strip called 'Terry and the Pirates'.
The strip made its debut in October, 1934. In the beginning,
the comic was fairly rough, until Noel Sickels, who was
hired to produce the strip 'Scorchy Smith', helped Caniff
iron out the wrinkles. Their collaboration - and Caniff's
later solo flight - produced some of the most memorable
strips in the history of the medium.
During World War II, Caniff produced, besides 'Terry', the
comic strip 'Male Call' for the
G.I. Newspapers only. It featured Miss Lace, a sprightly
pal to every homesick soldier and sailor away from the U.S.
'Male Call' was Caniff's donation to the war effort; he
took no money for it. He retired the strip in 1946. In early
1947, Caniff, aching for more control of his comic creations,
jumped to the Chicago Sun - Times and created 'Steve Canyon',
a strip about an air-transport pilot seeking adventure.
Although 'Steve Canyon' was an immediate success, the strip
never matched 'Terry' at its best. 'Steve Canyon' ran for
41 years and died with the artist in 1988. The final strip,
on June 4th, was a two-panel tribute, signed by 78 cartoonists.
Enjoying the highest regard of his peers, Caniff won the
first Cartoonist of the Year trophy awarded by the National
Cartoonists Society in 1946 and received the Reuben award
The impact Milton Caniff had on comics cannot be overestimated;
he was the first cartoonist who brought realism, suspense
and sensuality into comics and he inspired many artists
with his beautiful drawings, earning him his nickname, "the
Rembrandt of the comic strip".