Terry and the Pirates was an adventure strip created by Milton Caniff for the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate in 1934. Joseph Patterson, head of the syndicate, had admired Caniff's work on Dickie Dare, which Caniff had created for the AP Newsfeatures in 1933, and lured him away from AP with the chance to do Terry. Patterson gave Caniff the title and locale.
The strip debuted with a daily on 22 October 1934. A color Sunday page was added 9 December 1934. Initially the daily and Sunday strips ran separate storylines, a common practice, but in August 1936 Caniff integrated the storylines. The strip centers on the adventures of Terry Lee, a young American (initially a teenager) recently arrived in China with his friend Pat Ryan, a two-fisted journalist. The pirates are a band of criminals who were the main antagonists in the early strips, led by the Dragon Lady, perhaps the most famous of Caniff's femme fatales. Over time, the focus of the strip changed as the Japanese invaded China, and the Dragon Lady became a resistance leader and Terry and Pat her allies. When America joined the war, Terry joined the U.S. Air Force, and the war became the main focus of the strip.
Terry and the Pirates was very well received, and Caniff became very well-known as a result of it. But the syndicate retained ownership of the strip, and in 1946 Caniff struck out to create Steve Canyon, a strip over which he retained ownership, that ran till shortly after his death in 1988. George Wunder took over Terry and remained with the strip until its end in 1973. Michael Uslan stewarded a brief revival in 1995 that lasted a couple of years.
Terry and the Pirates strip reprints were another of the recurring features in Dell's Popular Comics, beginning with the first issue in 1936. In 1938 Dell moved it to their new Super Comics anthology, where it remained till the end of 1941. In 1942 it returned to Popular Comics and remained there till the end of 1947, a few issues before that title's end. It returned to Super Comics for the last three issues of that title (119-121, Oct 1948- Mar 1949).
In addition to the regular strip reprints in Popular and Super Dell also dedicated four issues of Large Feature Comic to re-collecting those strips in Terry-centric volumes (#2, 6, & 27 of the 1939 series and #6 of the 1942 series), and three issues of Four Color (1939 series #9 and 1942 series #s 44 & 101).
In 1947 Harvey Comics began their own Terry and the Pirates title, reprinting the newspaper strip as well (Don Heck worked in Harvey's production office reformatting strips for comic book pages). The title ran for 24 issues (1947-1951) before Charlton took it over, producing three additional issues.
China; syndicated strip; U.S. Air Force; World War 2; World War II