1987: Milton Caniff’s America

Milton Caniff’s America (1987) edited by Shel Dorf.

As covers to collections of Milton Caniff strips go, that’s a very stark choice.

Huh. My copy of this book (bought used earlier this year) is signed by the editor.

Anyway, as Dorf explains, this is a collection of Caniff’s Christmas day strips, especially from the Steve Canyon period. In addition there’s other… patriotic ephemera.

James Stewart says that he approves.

cat ⊕ yronwode explains in her introduction that she was so fed up with Caniff’s hippie baiting during the Vietnam was that she didn’t read his stuff for half a decade.

After all the introductions, and a further essay, we start off with some very old Caniff strips. This one from the 30s.

We get one Terry and the Pirates strip, and this one “was read into the Congressional record”. I’m sure that’s a thing.

The main section of the book is the collection of the Steve Canyon Xmas strips, and they’re all like this. Caniff writes a mini-editorial, mostly of the sentimental kind, but sometimes somewhat political, and adds a little drawing to go along with it.

I think this is probably more effective in context than reading one after another, because that’s just doesn’t work.

At least not for me.

There’s also strips in verse.

And then we get to the “misc.” bit that fills out the last half. We get random things that Caniff did for the military or things used as public service announcements. Or something.


And finally, we get a sequence from 1982 where Steve Canyon explains to some college students what patriotism is, and they don’t egg him, so they were pretty much convinced, I take it.

I have to wonder who the audience for this book is. I guess it’s not really meant to be read, but is something you can peek at once in a while when you want to get a shot of patriotism to perk you up.

Not that that’s a bad thing.

Or as this person puts it:

Stirring, gripping, heartfelt, these evocations from a master of his craft are the best tribute from, to and by an honest plain-dealer. Simply Wonderful.

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