IDW Publishing has announced the company will release a six-book series collecting every single Milton Caniff Terry and the Pirates newspaper strips.

The Sunday pages will be reproduced in color, along side the daily black-and-white strips.Volume One, to be published in July, contains more than 800 consecutive strips, from the series’ beginning in 1934 through the end of 1936. An informed essay provides biographical material and places Caniff’s seminal work in the context of both comic strip history and of the real-world events reflected in the stories.

“This is the definitive edition of the definitive adventure series,” says series editor and designer Dean Mullaney. “All Sunday pages have been lovingly restored from the original color pages culled from my private collection and supplemented by the Cartoon Research Library at Ohio State University.” The books will be an oversized 11″ x 8.5″, in order to showcase the richness of Caniff’s art and storytelling. Future editions will be released on a quarterly schedule.

The first volume will be released in July for $49.99.

I remember reading Terry and the Pirates as a wee little lad at my grandparents house in a series of reprints that had been collected at the time. I remember thinking how awesome some of the stories were, even if I didn’t understand all the meaning in some of the encounters.

If IDW does for Terry what Fantagraphics did for Popeye, I’m in!

For more on Terry from the IDW press release, take the jump.

Terry Goes to China
The strip starts with a boy named Terry and his friend, Pat Ryan, a freelance journalist, who arrive in China seeking a lost gold mine. Along with George Webster “Connie” Confucius, a local interpreter and guide, they take off on the first of many adventures-matching wits with pirates and other villains. Historic events are the backdrop of the story, which Caniff blended with fantasy to create an extraordinary graphic narrative. Memorable characters, with just-as-memorable names, pepper the adventures, including Chopstick Joe, a petty criminal; Singh Singh, a warlord; Judas, a smuggler; and Hotshot Charlie, Terry’s wingman during World War II.

Changing the world of comics forever, Caniff pushed the boundaries of traditional expectations. One character, Sanjak, was a lesbian and cross-dresser with designs on Terry’s girlfriend-a bold move for a 1940’s comic strip. The Dragon Lady is Caniff’s most iconic character and one of comics’ all-time greatest female villains. She had a complex and volatile relationship with the strip’s heroes-ranging from seducing, humiliating, or attempting to murder them to teaching Terry how to dance in order to prepare for a date.

Terry Becomes an Icon
By 1937, “Terry’s”popularity had reached unforeseen levels. That year, the story was made into in a weekly radio show, which lasted until 1948. In 1940, it was the subject of a movie, with William Tracy playing Terry and Sheila Darcy as the Dragon Lady. In 1942, Caniff started a second “Terry” series solely for military publications, which he replaced with a spin-off. And, in 1952, “Terry and the Pirates”became an 18-episode TV series, with John Baer in the title role.

In 1995 the strip was a commemorative postage stamp in the United States Postal Service’s Comic Strip Classics series, along with Dick Tracy and Popeye. That same year an attempt was made to revive the strip, but it only ran for little more than a year.

Two other attempts to collect the strips in volumes have also been made. Both lacked quality reproduction and are now out-of-print, and one was incomplete.


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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