Monday, April 20, 2009
As anyone familiar with me and my work knows, one of my biggest inspirations is cartoonist Milton Caniff (1907-1988), the writer-artist-creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon.
Given that interest, I was delighted to come across Matt Tauber's self-titled blog, whose mission is to "yammer on about cartoonist Milton Caniff and lesser topics for the edification of millions."
The main reason I really dig the blog is because Matt walks the walk as much as he talks the talk: not content with simply sitting at a keyboard writing about his passion, he has taken field trips to museums and landmarks to better understand the focus of his blog. These efforts to some degree have even contributed to the research and legacy of the masters! These have included trips to Hillsboro, Ohio where Caniff was born (Matt thoughtfully posts a photo of a historical marker honoring Caniff in his blog, see photo above) and a visit to the Cartoon Research Library and Museum at Ohio State University, where he interviewed Lucy Caswell, the curator of the Library/Museum, which was founded on the donated papers of Milton Caniff, a proud Ohio State alum.
One excellent example of his going above and beyond is a report about his effort to find the whereabouts of a painting by Caniff's close friend and long-time studio mate, Noel Sickles, that Sickles had donated to his high school alma mater, Chillicothe High School, around 1959. This search was based on a single paragraph in a recent Sickles biography (that I reviewed here). Given the passage of time and the fact that the high school had been gutted and rebuilt in the last decade, Tauber wondered whether the painting was still at the high school and whether Sickles' legacy was remembered.
I won't give anything away, but you can read about Tauber's effort to uncover the disposition of the painting here—it's well told. While everyone Tauber contacted in his quest (including the school's principal and various retired staff) were helpful and gracious, Tauber deserves full credit for his persistence, research and detective work.
Anyway, while I'm obviously predisposed to the subject matter, Tauber is insightful and entertaining, and I'll continue to keep tabs on his blog.
Photo credit: The above photo is reproduced from Matt Tauber's blog.