Harvey: Milt Caniff often in hot water over the women he drew

The Women of Milt Caniff

R.C. Harvey has an interesting write-up over on The Comics Journal about the trouble Milt Caniff would get into with editors over the women he drew – more accurately the plunging necklines he often drew.

A little over a year later, Caniff made another foray into the forbidden territory. A woman called Fancy, another version of Burma in Caniff’s famed Terry and the Pirates, filled the splash panel of his Sunday page for December 5, 1948. Caniff drew her in a typical pin-up pose, attired only in a negligee. When the proofs of that page arrived at the Chicago Sun-Times (hyphenated now by Marshall Field’s acquisition of the Chicago Times), Russ Stewart, the General Manager, fired off a telegram: “Not unlikely we may have uproar over top panel. Will you please let us know if any similar are coming up in near future?” It was only the beginning. Kinsey’s book had sold 275,000 copies in its first year, but that was apparently not enough (yet) to convert the multitides to an unabashed acceptance of human sexuality.

“There was very deep cleavage in that negligee,” Caniff noted, “and it caused quite a ruckus -enough that I actually went out to Chicago to talk to the General Manager. I thought he was a little unrealistic-damned unrealistic-but that’s not the point. If he thought I was going to ruin the youth of Chicago, I wasn’t going to argue. Won’t happen again, I told him. No point in getting into a war with the guy who has the power of life and death over you. You can make your point some other way.”

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