Celebrating the centennial of Milton Caniff ’s birth, IDW Publishing will publish a fully authorized six-book series collecting the entirety of Caniff ’s groundbreaking newspaper adventure strip Terry and the Pirates. The Sunday pages will be reproduced in their original color, alongside the daily black-and-white strips.
No cartoonist has so heavily influenced his medium as has Milton Caniff, and no comic strip has had more imitators than Terry and the Pirates. He is considered the great American novelist of the comics medium.
“In Terry and the Pirates,” wrote Jerry Robinson in The Comics, “all the storytelling techniques of the adventure strip fused and a classic style emerged. Caniff developed and integrated the narrative and its visual expression into a uniform aesthetic balance.” Jules Feiffer noted, “Before Caniff introduced the Dragon Lady to Pat Ryan, before Burma and Raven Sherman and Normandie Drake fell for our hero, there was not a hint of sex to be found in the American newspaper strip. Caniff changed all that.”
Terry and the Pirates provided the vehicle for Caniff's maturation both as an artist and as a storyteller. He set the strip in exotic China, where historic events then occurring in the region during the 1930s provided the raw material from which he blended fantasy and reality to create an extraordinary graphic narrative. Howard Chaykin, who has written the introduction to Volume One, says, “It's historically the first, and for my money, greatest example of what we do. The evolution of what Caniff did with Terry in his first year is unbelievable. It's pure core storytelling.”
The story introduces young Terry Lee, his adult pal Pat Ryan, their sidekick Connie, as well as an array of unforgettable brigands such as Captains Judas and Blaze, and the two toughest women to ever sail on the China Seas: the alluring Burma and the inimitable Dragon Lady.
Volume One, to be published in July, contains more than 800 consecutive strips, from the series' beginning in October 1934 through the end of 1936. An informed essay provides biographical material, and places Caniff ’s seminal work in the context of both comic strip history and of the real-world events reflected in the stories.
The Complete Terry and the Pirates also launches a new imprint for IDW: The Library of American Comics. “There's no better comic strip to inaugurate The Library of American Comics than Milton Caniff's masterpiece," says series editor and designer Dean Mullaney. "This is the definitive edition of the definitive adventure series (NBM’s long out-of-print collections printed the color in separate volumes from the B&Ws). The books will be oversized, 11” x 8.5” oblong, in order to showcase the richness of Caniff ’s art and storytelling. All Sunday pages have been lovingly restored from the original color pages culled from my private collection, and supplemented by the Cartoon Research Library at Ohio State University.”
Color is essential to Terry. The syndicate had dedicated engravers working on his Sundays. Caniff was thrilled, “I never had a chance like this in my life to do real newspaper color…Right from the start, I started using the most elaborate color schemes I could get.” Future editions will be released on a quarterly schedule.
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Born in Hillsboro, Ohio in 1907, Milton Caniff received two Reuben awards from the National Cartoonists Society, the Exceptional Service Award of the United States Air Force, as well as the nickname "the Rembrandt of the comic strip."
The Complete Terry and the Pirates joins IDW’s ongoing The Complete Dick Tracy series presenting the best examples of the American newspaper comic strip.
A Library of American Comics Original THE COMPLETE TERRY AND THE PIRATES Vol. 1: 1934-1936 by Milton Caniff
Introduction by Howard Chaykin
Hardcover, 11” X 8.5”
Full Color & B&W • 368 pages, with index
$49.99, ISBN: 978-1-60010-100-7