The Library of American Comics and Clover Press are to publish special deluxe editions of Milton Caniff’s seminal newspaper strip Terry and the Pirates starting next year. There will be thirteen books in all. Twelve collections of each year of material reproducing Caniff’s own set of proofs, with a special behind-the-scenes thirteenth volume only available via Clover Press’s website – either as part of a bundle or with a full subscription. They will be a limited run and each volume is scheduled to release every four months, beginning March 2022.

terry and the pirates

Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates was an adventure strip following American teen Terry Lee and friends in then-present day China. Caniff created the strip and worked on it from 1934 to 1946 as a daily and Sunday page strip for the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate. In the heydays of the American newspaper strip, his work was read and enjoyed by millions – and provided inspiration for the next generation of cartoonists and artists in the early days of the American comic book. Caniff, seeking more creative ownership, left the strip in 1946 and it was continued until 1973 by George Wunder. The National Cartoonist Society bestowed Caniff the inaugural Cartoonist of the Year Award in 1946 for his work on Terry and the Pirates. Caniff still remains influential – the NCS has a special Caniff Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Caniff himself had a hand in the origins of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Previously IDW and Library of American Comics had published a six-book collection of the Terry and the Pirates strip between 2007 and 2009, which is now out of print. Clover Press, which was formed by formerIDW  CEO Ted Adam, and formed in 2019, seems to be the new home for the Library of American Comics,

Clover and Library of American Comics state in the PR, the books will be “[r]eproduced from Milton Caniff’s personal set of color syndicate tabloid proofs that were unavailable for previous books” which would make this Master Collection “the ultimate edition of Caniff’s masterpiece”.

They continue:

“In this definitive new edition, we present the Sundays in an unmatched color fidelity and larger than they have ever before been reprinted—an unparalleled upgrade that no Terry fan can afford to pass up.”

The 11”x14” hardcover Master Collection looks to be rather pricey – costing $95 for the first volume (which itself collects the first year of the strip from October 22, 1934 to the end of 1935) and $85 for subsequent volumes. A full subscription to the series through Clover’s website will set you back $900, with an upfront cost of $215. The books are not cheap so this will be more for the die-hard fans and collectors. They do look positively scrumptious (and sumptuous) though.

The Terry and the Pirates: Master Collection exclusive bundle/subscription-only behind-the-scenes thirteenth volume by Bruce Canwell and Dean Mullaney also looks pretty meaty.

Although revered among comic strip buffs, Terry and the Pirates is also full of Orientalist/Yellow Menace tropes – hopefully the back matter of the series will address that in some way.