S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

Archive for the tag “Vintage Comic”

BOOK REVIEW: Terry and the Pirates Volume Two: 1948-1949 by George Wunder

Terry & The Pirates IIThe Hermes Press is leaking slowly reproductions of the famous comic strip titled “Terry and the Pirates.” The talented Milton Caniff created this innovate and artful adventure comic strip in 1934 and continued it until 1944. George Wunder continued the strip until 1973.

In this volume are three rather mediocre stories of Terry and his cadre traipsing about China and Indochina unbraiding the “bad guys and gals.” His art, at times in masterful—characters are sharp and the backgrounds are detailed. However, frequently, he skips the background. His composition generally is satisfactory, but sometimes it’s pedestrian. Mimicking Caniff, his gorgeous and sensuous dames have wasp thin waists, high arched eyebrows, and brazen figures. Without fail, they lust after Terry with perfidious schemes. Oftentimes they’re close to success, but they never succeed. After all, this was a strip published in the newspapers for family reading.

The book I have has serious binding problems—ten pages are missing, twelve are misplaced, and two are duplicated fifty pages deeper into the tome than their original position. Additionally, the printing (in China) of the black and white images are far too contrasty. And color images are slightly too contrasty.

BOOK REVIEW: Steve Canyon, Volume 1955 to 1956 by Milton Caniff

SteveCanyon5_PRI opened the cover of this tome with eager anticipation—to read and view another of Caniff’s boffo comic-strip stories about the rousing adventures of the heroic Lieutenant Colonel Steven B. Canyon, USAF. Alas! I was disappointed.

I found that Caniff’s stories in this volume had plots that are incongruous to the Steve Canyon mystic, and unfortunately, some are nonsensical.

Included are several of out-of-character stories: three smarmy, soap opera narratives. One smacks of the travails of Pearl White in Perils of Pauline film serials of 1914–Steve “Do Good” Canyon rescues the damsel in distress from a fate worse than death. Another is a Y/A recital in which Canyon adopts a distant cousin—a sixteen-year old rambunctious and comely female who helps Canyon save his Air Force base from a hostile populous.

I missed the roaring adventures of Canyon in some exotic location out whiting the classic “bad guy” that usually has distorted facial or body features. I missed Steve matching wits with a glamorous dame clad in a skin-tight ensemble that reveals more than it ought, and who is intent on corrupting him into her evil designs. I longed to see Caniff’s eeevil Dragon Lady maneuver her voluptuous charms to inveigle Canyon into her piratical schemes and into her quarters on her sea-going junk sailing the South China Seas.

Canyon drafts his females out of a dream—gorgeous creatures with body proportions not seen on humans—all proffer a wasp-thin waist, high-arched eyebrows, and brassy bosoms in blouses that are cut on the bias that emphasize their near-perfect form..

I miss Caniff’s finely detailed drawings of yesteryear where most every frame was a cameo —“Terry and the Pirates” of the 30s and “Miss Lace” of the 40s, for examples. However, progressively in the Steve Canyon narratives, his drawings reflect a short cut to his art. Occasionally some of his drawings mimic his past exactness but far too many do not.

Nonetheless all the above, I’m looking forward to getting the next publication in this series.

Black Orchid

A key character in my novel St. Catherine’s Crown is Black Orchid—an incredibly beautiful and seductive female—as only an oriental female can be.   She is narcissistic to a faretheewell.  Quick to hot temper when provoked, inordinately vain, and having no moral compass; she gets what she wants by whatever means are necessary: treachery, seduction, prevarication.

Black Orchid

My inspiration for Black Orchid was triggered by the character The Dragon Lady in the comic strip “Terry and the Pirates,” by Milton Caniff.  This strip started in the early 1930’s and continued for about twenty years. In those days, most comic strips developed a continuing narrative.  Caniff kept his current story alive from two to three months.

The Dragon Lady was a Chinese pirate raiding shipping in the South China Seas and the Yangtze.  She was exquisitely alluring, fiercely determined, and a dangerous enemy.  When not pirating, she wore beautiful clothes that enhanced her seductive figure.  At times she was brutal—gunning down any threat, perceived or in fact.  Yet she had, as the occasion dictated, a soft heart—falling in love with Terry’s sidekick, Pat Ryan, teaching Terry to dance, and caring for orphans.  During the Japanese  war, she developed her pirate gang into a highly effective guerrilla fighting force.

If I’ve piqued your interested, please visit amazon.com and search for “Terry and the Pirates” and enjoy Caniff’s masterful drawings, dramatic dialogue, and intriguing stories.”

 Black Orchid has no soft heart.  Nonetheless, I invite you to romp with Black Orchid in my historical novel St. Catherine’s Crown.  Beware!  You’ve been warned.

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