I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got six new comics plus a hard cover collection:

  • The Walking Dead – 86
  • Usagi Yojimbo – 138
  • FF – 5
  • Flashpoint: Project Superman – 1
  • The Incredible Hulk and the Human Torch: From the Marvel Vault – 1
  • Batman Incorporated – 7
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

    “Terry and The Pirates: Volume 1” by Milton Caniff

    I started reading this Book ages ago and only finished reading it recently. I couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t engaging me either. A friend of mine, who is a big “Terry” fan, told me it took until about the middle of this volume to take off. So I picked it up again. My friend was right. It got good.

    “Terry and The Pirates” is about an American teenager named Terry, a Chinese teenager named Connie, and a twenty something rough and tough American named Pat Ryan as they have adventures all around the China coast back in the mid-1930s when these strips first appeared. Their first adventure involves pirates and the strip is named after it.

    Somewhere around page two hundred of this volume the story becomes a real page turner. The gang is always in danger and trying to escape from the influence of one dangerous character or another. Pirates, bands of outlaws, and warlords of varying menace all populate this strip.

    I’ve read Dave Sim describe Caniff’s art style as “Cartoon Realism” and I think that applies to his writing as well. Though the strip is filled with fantastic adventure characters it is also grounded in reality as well. Fights don’t last long and superior numbers win. When someone has the drop on the good guys there is nothing they can do but surrender and wait for another chance. Caniff manages to create a real sense of danger in these stories.

    These strips are a lot more adult than comic strips are today. Pat Ryan is always looking for romance and there are quite a few bad girl characters populating the strip. It’s well spelled out that the bad girl characters sleep around too. Not something you’ll find in todays comic page. Plus there are strong women characters who can hold their own with any of the men in the strip. Terry, Connie, and Pat need to be rescued from the women characters and not rescue the women.

    Connie, the young Chinese “Servant” character, is the oddest of all. He’s hard to take by today’s standards since he is a Chinese stereotype and the comedy relief character who speaks in heavily accented English. The strange thing is that the strip is populated with plenty of non-stereotypical Chinese characters. One time a bunch of local outlaws caught Connie and were even like, “Who is this crazy big eared, big toothed weirdo?”. Terry and Pat treat Connie as an equal but he’s still hard to take at times.

    After slowly reading the first half of “Terry and The Pirates: Volume 1” I had a hard time putting the second half down. And it ends in the middle of a story. I’m going to have to start volume two soon.