Tuesday, Sep 9th, 2014
Woo-Woo to Mizzou
posted by Bruce Canwell
Dean and I have developed a mantra during our seven-plus years launching and growing The Library of American Comics: "The more you know, there more there is to know." This is true for no cartoonist more than Milton Caniff. A Brobdingagian biographical tome was published in 2007, while I've added close to seventy thousand words to the examination of Milton's life and career in LOAC's complete reprinting of his Terry and the Pirates, our Caniff: A Visual Biography artbook, and the four volumes of Steve Canyon we have released so far.
Inevitably, there is a degree of overlap between the previous extensive biography and the text features in LOAC's books - after all, events such as the death of Raven Sherman or the War-year existence of the Male Call series are too big to be ignored by anyone who delves into Caniffite territory - yet I believe we have done a respectable job of putting a different (and, we hope, complimentary) emphasis on those common topics while also finding and shining the spotlight on many events in Milton's life that the biography did not have room to cover.
Now a new and notable player has entered the field with a fascinating new entry that focuses on just one of the hundreds of characters Milt created, illuminating a previously-neglected slice of his singular career. I'm speaking of J.B. Winter's Miss Missou: A Life Beyond Comics.
Thanks to some impeccable research, this little volume packs a big punch. Winter examines the effect both Milt and his trench-coated creation had on the town of Columbia, Missouri (the home of the University of Missouri, from which the nickname "Mizzou" originates), and the results of his examination are interesting and entertaining. A variety of newspaper clippings, original artwork, and maps - as well as photos of Caniff, the delightful Bek Steiner, and other models Milt employed as post-Bek Mizzous - keeps readers eager to turn the pages.
Mr. Winter provided me an advance copy and asked if I'd share my reactions for possible publication - his work is such a pleasure, I was glad to comply with his wishes. I came away from A Life Beyond Comics freshly amazed at the sheer reach his unique combination of talent and personality gave to Caniff. He really did spent much of his career as either a pop culture star.
Very reasonably priced and available now at Amazon.com, J.B. Winter's fine publication belongs on every Caniff devotee's bookshelves. Miss Mizzou: A Life Beyond Comics is a David that can proudly stand next to the twin Goliaths that are the Caniff biography and our own LOAC hardcover releases.