I've been reading Steve Canyon strips from IDW's Library of American Comics collections, a month every day, for the last few weeks. I started with volume 2, since that's the volume I had. But now I'm flashing back to volume 1, and since there was some interest in a read-along, here goes!

January 1947.

This is a short month, as the strip began on January 13. Short synopsis: Rich vamp Copper "the Copperhead" Calhoun wants to hire Canyon's Horizons Unlimited air-transport business for a mysterious mission. Steve (and his secretary, Feeta-Feeta) are rude to Calhoun's underling, Mr. Dayzee. Calhoun tests Canyon's bravery and prowess b setting thugs on him, and then hires him, impressed. Dayzee plots with Calhoun's bodyguard, blackmailing him, to kill Canyon during the mission.

Elements of note:
I liked how Canyon isn't introduced until a week into the strip. Canniff spends a week with Feeta-Feeta being sassy to Mr. Dayzee as we wonder what the lead character is like. And then, on the first Sunday page, he appears... but not until after several incidental characters react to him while he's only partially on-panel.

Feeta-Feeta's unusual nickname is taken from the soldiers in American Samoa -- Fita is Samoan for soldier, and from what I can find online, the Fita Fita Guard was the Samoan Marine Reserve.

I like Copper Calhoun's hooded wrap -- it suggests cobra more than copperhead, but it definitely gets the idea of a snake across. 

New Characters of Note:
Steve Canyon, Feeta-Feeta, Copper Calhoun, Mr. Dayzee, Kroom

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Wasn't he a Colonel?  If so, I would think at least early 30's.  

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I haven't given it much thought. Late 20s, early 30s? 

So they were "south of the border," implying Mexico or Central America. It makes some sense that they were heading New Orleans to get Copper medical attention. In 1947 they didn't know where to go except the U.S. Because they can't land in New Orleans they go to.....New York!  Huh?

As for Steve being a colonel, I think that was later. The Army Air Corps was split off and became the separate Air Force in September 1947. From what I read, Steve joined/rejoined the Air Force during the Korean War. I only remember his being in the Air Force when I followed the strip.

I think they decided to go all the way back to NYC so at least she could have her usual doctor treat her.

Richard Willis said:

So they were "south of the border," implying Mexico or Central America. It makes some sense that they were heading New Orleans to get Copper medical attention. In 1947 they didn't know where to go except the U.S. Because they can't land in New Orleans they go to.....New York!  Huh?

Great job so far, Rob! I plan to spend much of my three-day weekend sheltering in place and catching up to you reading Steve Canyon.

Yesterday, Cap bumped up a discussion about IDW’s dire financial straights to which I posted the following about Steve Canyon reprints. I hope you don’t mind that I updated it a bit and moved it over here.

Kitchen Sink Press published 21 magazine-size editions, then switched to softcover tpb format for #22-25 through 1956.

A publisher called Checkerbooks published comic-size tpbs starting from the beginning, but they didn't get even as far as KSP did.

And the anthology Comics Revue published Steve Canyon for years.

The IDW volumes, of which there are currently ten, designated by letter, cover two years each.

S = 1947--1948
T = 1949--1950
E = 1951--1952
V = 1953--1954
E = 1955--1956
C = 1957--1958
A = 1959--1960
N = 1961--1962
Y = 1963—1964
O = 1965—1966

I hope IDW lasts long enough to at least finish spelling his name, but Steve Canyon lasted until 1988.

...Yes, and the only time I ever even remotely followed the strip in newspaper was during Caniff's last month's, 1987-88 ' during the which he dealt with the question of the plausibility of pretty-old-by now Steve by devoting a space to " Steve's fantasizes/dreams " sequences - and I remember one which had Steve imaging himself to be a Roaring Twenties high school student who is caught parked in a car with a girl in what was an innocently intended situation by them but is given the worst interpretation by the dirty-minded adults, nearly leading to a shotgun wedding - and I think that would have made him OLDER than he was in the initial strip, to be a jalopy-owning dating teenager prior to the (last - whoops?) Depression! Did the earlier Kitchen Sink edition of the strip reach this endpoint of the strip? For that matter, did Kitchen Sink's LIL' ABNER series of the 80s get to the end?

“Did the earlier Kitchen Sink edition of the strip reach this endpoint of the strip?”

No, but Comics Revue did.

“For that matter, did Kitchen Sink's LIL' ABNER series of the 80s get to the end?”

No, not even close. Nor have Dark Horse’s reprints even gotten as far as KSP’s dailies (but DH’s include Sundays).

...Thank you. I have lots mote to say about Lil'Abner reprints, but not now. How late did the KSP books get?

Incidentally, in one of June's strips someone Steve met in the war calls him "Captain Canyon." So it seems that was his rank in WW2.

May 1947.

Steve negotiates and gets the job flying machinery to an oil field. He and his crew are happy to have such an easy job...and yet when they come in for a landing, people start shooting at the plane. It turns out the Black Champagne Oil Company was a family owned business, and the people in the town aren't happy about it being taken over. 
And then Delta and Big Red show up. Delta has faked paperwork making it seem like she was the previous owner's niece (and inheritor), and Red is pretending to be her aunt. It's also pretty clear by this point that Red is blackmailing Delta to help -- Delta is talented and duplicitous, but not bad-hearted. 
Some locals kidnap Delta, and wind up driving her out to the airfield. Delta manages to signal Steve's plane overhead, and his crew drops a flare before heading down to rescue her.

Elements of Note:
There's a Sunday page which makes it clear that sometimes Delta would take drunk rubes down a certain alleyway to get rolled by muggers; she takes Steve down this alley and doesn't give the "hold back" sign, so they jump him, and he trounces them in a nice action scene.

No new characters or departures of note. 

June 1947.

Steve sends the plane toward the kidnapper's car, turning the floodlights on at the last minute, sending it careening into a ditch after they pushed Delta free. Some reporters notice the fire and drive by, catching the end of the fight and rescue. They go to talk things over with Delta and Steve at a diner, but Delta isn't giving up any details  (The reporter reveals that he's friendly to Canyon; at one point, he needed a flight out of Okinawa and got onto a military plane, but when civilians were ordered off, Canyon his him under his flight jacket.)

After a scuffle with Red's thugs over the photographer's film, things settle down. The next day, Red orders Steve killed; Delta goes to warn him, but Red knew she would, so once she was out of the room, Red moved up the timetable for the assassination. But then she learns that Delta will be in the car whrn the hitmen will strike, and she doesn't wantDelta hurt, so she tries to intercept the strike. 

Eventually Steve and Delta are chased up into the hills, where they come upon a shelter & and oil claim by a prospector named Happy Easter. Happy thinks they're on the run from the sheriff and Happy's wife, so he's willing to protect them with his rifle & booby traps (which he calls "boobly traps"). There's a standoff for a while, until Red orders Bullet-Hole-Pete flown down so they can torture him in front of Delta, in the hopes she'll leave Steve's side, making it easier to kill him. But Happy distracts the thugs with a fake gusher, and BHP rushes to Happy's shelter to hug his daughter.

Elements of Note:

I love how Happy calls his traps "boobly traps." He's a great character, with tons of personality. And at one point, Steve tries to hint to him that he should say there's a back way out of the shelter (so that Delta could run to her dad without regret for leaving them trapped), but Happy doesn't pick up on it. 


New Characters:

Happy Easter

July 1947.

Delta and her father escape through a tunnel Happy showed them, and dynamites it from behind! But that explosion set forth a gusher on Happy's property (as opposed to the fake one he'd already triggered), so now Happy's rich! He pays the gunmen to change sides. When the authorities come, Red high-tails it.

Meanwhile, debt collectors are coming to reclaim Horizon Unlimited's office furniture. Feeta-Feeta tries to contact Steve, but he'd been holed up with Happy for the last day. And it looks like their plane might get wrapped up in the feds wrapping up the whole Black Champagne Oil Company affair -- their accounts are frozen.

Thankfully, Happy's now wealth takes care of it. He hires them to fly him to the Middle East, as he wants to see the sights of Arabian Nights, the only book he's ever read.  Everyone who hears of this trip, from the State Department to foreign intelligence, thinks he's scoping out other oil fields. And so, a mysterious woman named Madame Lynx is dispatched to get to the bottom of things...

Meanwhile, once again Steve takes off from New York City, heedless of the feelings of poor Feeta-Feeta... but Happy sees how much the girl loves him.

Elements of Note:
This is a really transitional month, shifting Steve from a domestic crime caper to foreign intrigue. Also, there's another sequence where Happy meets each member of the crew, giving each one another one-day spotlight (in which they downplay any of their wartime heroism, in favor of their comrades in arms). 

New Characters:
Madame Lynx

Moving Offstage:
Delta, Bullet-Hole Pete, Big Red


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