Milton Caniff (1907-1988) was an American cartoonist.
Milton Arthur Paul Caniff was born on February 28, 1907 in Hillsboro, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1930 and began a career in journalism. Caniff had done some cartoons for local newspapers as a teenager. In 1932, he traveled to New York City and was hired by the Associated Press to produce the strip Dickie Dare. The strip was an action serial with a young male hero and was the prototype for Caniff's later work.
In 1934, Caniff was hired by the New York Daily News to produce a new strip, Terry and the Pirates. It was this strip which made Caniff famous. Like Dickie Dare, Terry began the strip as a boy. But over the years the character aged and by World War II he was old enough to be portayed as serving in the Army Air Force.
During the war, Caniff began a second strip, also originally called Terry and the Pirates, but later renamed into Male Call. Caniff donated all of his work on this strip to the armed forces for free and the strip was only available in military newspapers. Male Call featured more adult situations than Terry and the Pirates including the character of Miss Lace, an attractive woman who was often drawn in sexually suggestive poses. Caniff ended Male Call in 1946.
1946 also saw the end of Caniff's association with Terry and the Pirates. While the strip was a major success, it was owned by the newspaper not Caniff. Caniff decided to start a new strip based on characters which he would own. Caniff produced his last strip of Terry and the Pirates in December 1946 and introduced his new strip Steve Canyon in the Chicago Sun-Times the following month.
Like his previous strip, Steve Canyon was an action strip with a pilot as its main character. Canyon was originally portrayed as a private pilot but he joined the military during the Korean War and remained so for the rest of the strip. While Steve Canyon never reached the popularity that Terry and the Pirates had at its height, it was a successful comic strip and Caniff continued it for over forty years until his death.
Caniff was one of the founders of the National Cartoonist Society and served as its President in 1948 to 1949. He also received the society's first Cartoonist of the Year Award in 1946. Caniff would later also be awarded the Reuben Award in 1971 and be named to the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1988.