It would be easy to write this review of "Caniff: A Visual Biography," edited by Dean Mullaney, simply by repeating the words "Great!" or "Outstanding" or "Incredible!" or "Fantastic!" a couple of hundred times to get up to a decent word count. But that probably wouldn't be very useful information if you're considering buying this big, fat, heavy (over five pounds) volume.
So let me be a little more specific--if you are a fan of Milton Caniff's best-known works, the comic-strip adventures of "Terry and the Pirates" and "Steve Canyon," then you need to buy this book right away, no questions asked.
Still not specific enough? Try this--between the sturdy covers of "Caniff: A Visual Biography" are 328 thick, glossy, 11-inch-square pages, each of them packed from corner to corner with drawings, paintings, photographs, sketches, layouts, caricatures, portraits, teasers, figure studies, commemorative stamp covers, you name it. If it was artwork drawn by the skilled hand of "the Rembrandt of Cartoonists," chances are you'll find it here. This book is about so much more than just the two strips that earned Mr. Caniff his well-deserved fame. The entire breadth and depth of his unprecedented artistic legacy leaps off the pages in hundreds of sharp, crisp and stunning black-and-white and color images. Many full-page spreads of "Terry" and "Steve" are in here, of course--they'll be familiar to you if you've read the individual collections of these strips--but there is much, much more. A page or two of sparse text opens each of the seven sections, so there's not a lot of detailed material on Mr. Caniff's life (try R. C. Harvey's 952-page epic "Meanwhile..." if you want to read the definitive biography). Rather, this tome is just what its subtitle says--a "Visual Biography."
Convinced yet? With top-notch production values, a tight binding and incredibly sharp and vivid printing, "Caniff: A Visual Biography" is a treat for the eyes and the mind, as it brings to light the awesome artistic accomplishments of America's all-time greatest cartoonist. There will never be another Milton Caniff, but, thankfully, with this volume you have the opportunity to marvel at the work of this true genius of the genre. This is all-in-all one of the most incredible books I've seen in years, and I cannot recommend it too highly. Buy it and enjoy!