American cartoonist (1907-1988). Born in Hillsboro, Ohio, Caniff attended Ohio State University before moving to New York City in 1932. He got a job with the Associated Press Syndicate and quickly began creating comic strips, beginning with a single-panel strip called "The Gay Thirties" and followed the next year with the popular "Dickie Dare" -- the first of Caniff's acclaimed adventure strips.

In 1934, Caniff was asked to create a new adventure strip for the New York Daily News. His new strip debuted on October 22, was an immediate hit, and proved to be one of the most influential and best made comic strips in history: "Terry and the Pirates." The strip chronicled the adventures of Terry Lee and Pat Ryan against the beautiful but villainous Dragon Lady in the mysterious Orient. The cinematic strip turned Caniff into a genuine celebrity.

Caniff did a strip for the military during World War II called "Male Call" -- it featured scantily-clad pinups and was very popular with servicemen. However, he was becoming tired of "Terry and the Pirates," mainly because his contract with the Tribune Syndicate didn't pay him that much and deprived him of ownership of the characters. In 1946, he moved to Field Enterprises Syndicate, which promised him complete control over his new strip: "Steve Canyon."

The new strip was an immediate success, as many newspapers bought it on the strength of Caniff's name alone. The main character was an ex-military man who worked as a pilot on dangerous expeditions. Caniff drew the strip for 41 years, although as he grew older, an assistant, Richard Rockwell, took over many of the art chores. When Caniff died in 1988, Rockwell finished the last storyline, and "Steve Canyon" was put to bed forever. The next day, the spot reserved for "Steve Canyon" in most newspapers was taken up by a tribute by WWII cartoonist Bill Mauldin. It was signed by several dozen other cartoonists, many of whom had been inspired by Caniff's artwork and storytelling.

Caniff's cartoons influenced pioneering artists like Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, and Will Eisner, and film directors Orson Welles and Federico Fellini counted themselves as fans of the "Rembrandt of Comics."

Research from and