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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Ha, yep! She's a lot of fun!

Anyway, after a week of stalling, here's my last entry for volume 1.

December 1948.

We stick with Reed Kimberly this month, as Steve stays out of the picture. Reed's been thrown out of Fancy's life (for his own good), but he takes up with Cheetah, an attractive local pickpocket. However Reed's sensible nature keeps thwarting Cheetah's attempts to get all his money -- either by leaving his money in the hotel safe, or when he takes it out, she finds out it's traveler's checks, and she'll need his signature anyway!

In the meantime, Fancy tries to make up with Reed, at first meeting on the street -- where Cheetah winds up throwing a rock at her, and knocking out Reed by mistake -- and then later, sabotaging any alone time they'd have together by sending  local officials to their door every 15 minutes.

Eventually, she arranges a rendezvous with Reed, who meets her, thinking Steve will be there. But she shows him the type of time Cheetah can't provide... taking him to a church to sing carols on Christmas eve. 

Eventually, Reed and Fancy lure Cheetah to the police station with his traveler's checks, where she's captured. And then Reed loans Fancy some money to pay her hotel bill, and they plan to celebrate New Years Eve together... as the radio station they listen to is about to broadcast from announces all around the world.

(And that's where I came in, with Volume 2, and Fancy hearing her presumed-dead husband's voice on the radio, and flying  off to America to find him!)

Elements of Note:
This has been the strip's first completely Steve-less month, as Caniff was testing how well Reed could support the strip. And I definitely  like Reed, but I can't say there's a lot of high adventure here. (He'll get his chance at that later, though!)

Arrivals, Departures:
None of note... but we'll lose quite a few people from the strip early in the new year!

Coming  up, I might not go month-by-month for volume 2, instead breaking it down into individual stories like the ones Jeff linked to. And then I'll be back monthly for Volume 3!

STEVE CANYON - VOLUME 11: 1967-1968: Solicited for February 2020 release.


I've missed this thread, but I realize I just don't have the enthusiasm to go back to Volume 2, after I've already read it. So I'll probably start doing a month-a-day with Volume 3 soon, and maybe Volume 2 will get taken care of when later stories refer back to it.

I understand. (Perhaps, one of these days, I myself will return to Little Orphan Annie.)

I got as far as March, 1951 in my Steve Canyon reading. I must admit, I was lookig forward to discussing the task Princess Snow Flower set for Reed Kimberly; perhaps even breaking it off into a discussion of its own in the "TV & Movie" forum. 

That was a great moment in the series! And while we wait for me to get back on the ball, let's discuss it!

Princess Snow Flower -- a very sheltered princess of a small Asian country -- has never seen a movie before, and doesn't know anything about America. So she asks Reed to get her a movie flown in that will tell her about America. Reed doesn't know where to begin, so he polls the airmen in the camp for ideas...and meanwhile, Milt Caniff polled his readership for ideas (and to get demographic info on who was reading his comic, to use in marketing to new papers, since Caniff was a smart cookie).

So -- if you haven't read the story, what movie do you think the airmen (and the readership) picked, back in 1949? And which movie would you have picked back then?

And, here in 2020, with 70 more years of history and cinema behind us...what movie would you pick now? 

For me, the answers are obvious:

For 1949:  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

For 2920:  Monty Python and the Holy Grail  (1975)

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

So -- if you haven't read the story, what movie do you think the airmen (and the readership) picked, back in 1949? And which movie would you have picked back then?

And, here in 2020, with 70 more years of history and cinema behind us...what movie would you pick now? 

I've read the story so I know what was selected and thought it was a good choice. It's A Wonderful Life might have been a good alternative but I wonder if the princess, having never seen a movie, would understand the fantasy elements and the flashbacks within the story.

"Which movie do you think would best portray life in America to someone who has never visited the U.S.?"

I'm prepared with some statistics I gathered weeks ago. I won't reveal the 1949 answer, but I will reveal the results of a 1980 poll and my own nomination in 2020. Back during the Golden Age of Comic Strips, the bast cartoonists were masters of publicity stunts putting their strips front and center of public attention: a cross-country race in Gasoline Alley, the naming of the Bumsted's baby in Blondie, the merchandising of Sparkle Plenty in Dick Tracy, etc. The king of such stunts was indisputably Al Capp, primarily for the "Lena the Hyena" contest, but also for the mystery surrounding "Namcy O.," the Schmoos and others. Milton Caniff's big try is represented here.

1949: Exactly 3,156 nominations for 529 movies were forwarded to him from newspapers all over the United States and Canada. (Details to follow in a later post.) All 3,156 responses are included in the tabulation of suggested folms. In addition, a random sample of 410 of the  total responses showed 55% from women, 36% from men and 9% sex unknown. 41 of the 48 states then in America were respresented in this sample, plus 23 Canadia cities and one city in Scotland. 

1980: Lucy Shelton Caswell, who wrote the article from which I drew these statistics (which appeared in Steve Canyon Magazine) conducted her own informal poll of 53 people, whose average age was 28, the same question. Results: Kramer vs. Kramer received the largest number of votes with 16%. Breaking Away was second, and Coming Home, Annie Hall and The Goodbye Girl were tied for third.

2020: these five movies were the first I considered:

Birth of a Nation

Gone with the Wind

The Grapes of Wrath

Moby Dick

The Godfather

I discarded all of these for various reasons, mostly because they were either no longer an accurate reflection of life in America today, and/or because they are too regional or ethnocentrific (and lat's face it: Moby Dick shouldn't even be on the list). After much deliberation (and consideration of many more choices), I ultimately picked Boyhood (2014). 

I haven't seen Boyhood, but from what I know about it, that's a great choice!

The events of this year put Jaws and Do the Right Thing up in my top contenders... but I think I would have put Do the Right Thing up at the top of my list, even without this year's protests. 

If I had to pick a movie from this century...? Hmm. I'll give it some more thought. 

As for what was available in 1949, I think the readership's choice -- and if you don't mind getting spoiled, here's the trailer -- was a good one.

I'll have more to post about the winner in a day or so, but in the meantime, here are the rest of the top ten choices for Caniff's original poll.

10. A Date with Judy (1948), starring Wallace Beery, Jane Powell and elizabeth taylor.

9. I Remember Mama (1948), starring Irene Dunne and Barbara BelGeddes.

8. Good Sam (1948), starring Gary cooper and Ann Sheridan.

7. Sitting Pretty (1948), starring Clifton Webb, Robert Young and Maureen O'Hara.

6. You Can't Take It with You (1938), starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Lionel Barrymore.

5. The Birth of a Nation (1915), starring Lillian Gish and Raoul Walsh.

4. The Human Comedy (1943), starring Micky Rooney, Van Johnson and Donna Reed.

3. An American Romance (1944), starring Brian Donlevy.

2. State Fair (1933), starring Will Rogers, Lew Ayers and Janet Gaynor; (1945), starring Dick Haymes and Jeanne Crane.

Honestly, I have seen only two of these, including the winner. My choice in 1949 would have been The Grapes of Wrath. Given the way the United States treats immigrants today, it was almost my choice for 2020. Things haven't really changed all that much, except those fleeing the Dustbowl were migrants from within the United States. 

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

As for what was available in 1949, I think the readership's choice -- and if you don't mind getting spoiled, here's the trailer -- was a good one.

When I finally saw this movie I was impressed that it tackled this subject immediately after WWII.

It doesn't look as if we're going to get any more participation so, without further ado, the winner is...


The Best Years of Our Lives won five Acadamy Awards in 1946, including Best Picture, but it has not remained popular. According to Lucy Shelton-Caswell: "[It] tells about three soldiers who return to civilian life in a small city after World War II. The problems of a banker returning to his job, a sailor who lost his hands in the war, and a pilot who finds himself unemployable and his marriage disintegrating are depicted in the film. the 'America' values of work, patriotism and home and family are emphasized as the plot unfolds. This was the only film for Harold russell, a veteran who had lost both hands during World war II, and he won an Acadamny Award for his remarkable performance." 

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