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Terry and the Pirates was an action-adventure comic strip created by cartoonist Milton Caniff. Captain Joseph Patterson, editor for the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate, had admired Caniff’s work on the children’s adventure strip Dickie Dare and hired him to create the new adventure strip, providing Caniff with the title and locale. The Dragon Lady leads the evil pirates; conflict with the pirates was diminished in priority when World War II started.

The daily strip began October 22, 1934, and the Sunday color pages began December 9, 1934. Initially, the storylines of the daily strips and Sunday pages were different, but on August 26, 1936, they merged into a single storyline. In 1946, Caniff won the first Cartoonist of the Year Award from the National Cartoonists Society for his work on Terry and the Pirates.

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The strip was read by 31 million newspaper subscribers between 1934 and 1946.

The adventure begins with young Terry Lee, “a wide-awake American boy,” arriving in contemporary China with his friend, two-fisted journalist Pat Ryan. Seeking a lost gold mine, they meet George Webster “Connie” Confucius, interpreter and local guide. Initially, crudely drawn backgrounds and stereotypical characters surrounded Terry as he matched wits with pirates and various other villains. He developed an ever larger circle of friends and enemies, including Big Stoop, Captain Judas, Cheery Blaze, Chopstick Joe, Cue Ball and Dude Hennick. terryatp06

Most notable of all was the famed femme fatale, the Dragon Lady, who started as an enemy and later, during the war, became an ally. Caniff included a number of non-American female antagonists, all of whom referred to themselves in the third person. These included the Dragon Lady herself and crooks and spies like Sanjak and Rouge. In a rather bold move for a 1940s comic strip, Sanjak was hinted at being a lesbian cross-dresser with designs on Terry’s girlfriend April Kane. Caniff purportedly named the character after an island next to the isle of Lesbos.

Over time, owing to a successful collaboration with cartoonist Noel Sickles, Caniff dramatically improved to produce some of the most memorable strips in the history of the medium. Ray Bailey, Caniff’s assistant on Terry and the Pirates, went on to create his own adventure strip, Bruce Gentry.

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UPDATE 09-12-2016

33 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1935
28 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1938
32 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1939
31 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1941
41 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1942
58 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1943
49 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1944
58 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1946
37 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1947

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36 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1948
16 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1949
15 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates 1968
54 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates A Jewel of a Woman
22 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates Blaze and the Dragon

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59 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates On a Mystery Cruise
19 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates On the Road
57 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates On Trial

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66 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates Papa Pyzon
69 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates Sandhurst

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55 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates St. Louis Blues on the Road to Mandalay
34 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates The Bandit General of the Guerilla War
28 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates The Duel

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30 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates Underwater Piracy
39 pages/strips Terry and the Pirates War Profiteer

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22 strips Sundays color 1938
30 strips Sundays color 1939
21 strips Sundays color 1943
25 strips 1956

3 stories

Burma’s Return
Enter the Dragon Lady
In Command 01

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5 stories

Return of the Dragon Lady 01
Skull and the Dragon 01
The Lost Goldmine
Thugs and Lovers 01
Trouble in Tibet

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