Friday, October 26, 2007

Milton Caniff: "The Rembrandt of the Comic Strip"

A retrospective of Milton Caniff’s work will be on display at The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library’s 9th Festival of Cartoon Art, October 25th-27th, beginning at 11:00 AM. More than a dozen of the nation's top cartoonists, scholars and comic professionals will gather in downtown Columbus to celebrate Caniff's life and his work.

The Cartoon Research Library, which houses the works of many well-known cartoonists, got its start with Caniff's 1977 bequest of his papers.

Lucy Shelton Caswell said Caniff is one of the reasons the Cartoon Research Library exists. As the founding donor and a goodwill ambassador for the library, he persuaded other cartoonists to donate their work.

Underground cartoonist Frank Stack said he believes Caniff is the "key figure in the development of storytelling and artistic development of the comic strip" and he raised the bar for what a comic strip could be.

Caniff is best known for comic strips Terry and the Pirates, & Steve Canyon. Many cartoonists point to Caniff's works as an influence on their own work and his impact on the comic strip as a form of art.

Milton Caniff has a special place in my heart for the character he created when he was a boy scout. “Kit Cricket” is the character’s name, and here is the story behind his creation:

It was Milt Caniff, who was a scout at the time and later became a nationally known cartoonist of “Steve Canyon” fame, who submitted the name Cricket Holler (in 1921). Kit Cricket, the character we often see around the Miami Valley Council (Boy Scouts) and who is posted on the gate at Woodland Trails, is Milt’s creation, and he created a rather elaborate story about Kit’s defense of Cricket Holler from the malevolent “hodags.” You can read the story in “Fun and Service.”

Every time I take my son to camp at Cricket Holler it makes me smile to see Kit Cricket guarding the gates of the camp.

For registration or more information about speakers and the Cartoon Research Library, go to

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