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CANNON

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Full Name: John Cannon
Nationality: American
Organization: U.S. Army
Occupation Agent

Creator: Wallace Woods
Time Span: 1969 - 2014

ABOUT THE SERIES

John Cannon is an agent with American Military Intelligence.

There is no more detailed information about whom he answers to except that the orders for his activities comes from the Pentagon and his name and reputation are not only well known there, that knowledge extends to the White House and the Commander-in-Chief.

The time period for the actions of Cannon (in standard military style, his last name alone is usually when discussing him) is the late 60s. The Cold War is still very much a major factor as well as the expansionistic goals of both the Soviet Union and Red China.

While much of the history of Cannon before the first recorded adventure would go unspoken in those pages, we are given a brief but important glimpse into his past not too deep inside the first adventure, recapped well in a prologue to a collection of those stories, namely:

"This is Cannon, secret agent and expert in all forms of combat. He began his career as a U-2 pilot and was shot down over Red China. Captured by the Reds, he was sent to a brain-washing camp and turned over to 'Madame Toy" who made him the subject of a fantastic experiment, the most complete brainwashing ever attempted. Finally, after long months of intensive conditioning, they succeeded! John Cannon had been turned into the perfect assassin. A creature with no identity of his own. He was returned to the U.S. to kill the top nuclear scientists. But, fortunately, he was recognized and apprehended before he could accomplish his mission. All attempts to undo the brainwashing were futile - it was too complete - and so they followed the only course left to them, total reconditioning, and succeeded!"

What exactly that reconditioning involved is not known but it looked, in the image available to us, quite intensive and the man administering it was noted saying, "Forgive us, Cannon!" Also, "The result was Cannon as he is now ... something more - and less - than human",

In the first adventure we get an interesting glimpse into the attitude towards this 'new' Cannon in a comment from someone in the Pentagon who remarks that though the mission Cannon is on looks "suicidal", it is "for a man, yes, but Cannon is not just a man ... he's more like a machine" to which another person adds, "He's too [expletive] efficient! ... Gives me the creeps!"

The Cannon that the rest of the adventures depict is not really that creepy but he definitely is very, very, efficient, as Madame Toy will be forced to admit.

BOOKS

Number of Books:1
First Appearance:2001
Last Appearance:2014

1 The Compleat Cannon The Compleat Cannon
Written by Wallace Woods
Copyright: 2001

This oversized collection published by Fantagraphics "reprints the entirety of cartoonist Wally Wood's classic sex and violence strip from the 1960s. Super-spy John Cannon is the American's answer to James Bond, fighting the Cold War with a license to kill."

2 Cannon Cannon
Written by Wallace Woods
Copyright: 2014

Another terrific collection published by Fantagraphics containing all 262 strips from the Overseas Weekly newspaper as well as the two adventures by Wally Wood and Steve Ditko published in Heroes, Inc. Presents.

COMIC BOOKS, GRAPHIC NOVELS, AND MANGA

Number of Stories:1
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:1991

1 'The Hunt For Jean Voss' 'The Hunt For Jean Voss'
Published by CPL/Gang Publications
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & inks), Steve Ditko (artist)
Copyright: 1969

Lead story in an anthology Heroes, Inc. Presents #1 including a story about Dragonella and one about The Misfits, 12 pages.
A scientist named Jean Voss is kidnapped by Chinese communists when they attack the top secret facility where she was doing research. The President orders Cannon in to free her.

2 'The Hunt for Willy Von Blau' 'The Hunt for Willy Von Blau'
Published by CPL/Gang Publications
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & inks), Steve Ditko (artist)
Copyright: 1976

Secondary story in an anthology Heroes, Inc. Presents #2 including the lead story about The Misfits and one about Black Angel, black & white - 14 pages.
Cannon arrives in a "small, sleepy South American port". That night he hears outside his hotel room a woman cry for help - it is a setup by a team calling them selves the Specialists, the "each the deadliest killer in the world with his chosen weapon", led by Erika Meissner, Minister of the Inner Government. The country has been taken over by Nazis. Its new fuehrer is a mad rocket scientist with a new V-4 missile aimed at Moscow hoping to spark a war between the US and USSR.

3 Cannon #1 Cannon #1
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1978

Reprint of full-size pages #1 - #33 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper. 11"x17", black and white.
Tells of the history of Cannon and Madame Toy as well as the mission by Cannon to rescue the leader of the country of Ismiria held by Madame Toy, followed by the trap for him back in Iowa by communist spymaster Comrade Gorsk and his beautiful colleague, Sue Smith. It also sees Cannon have to deal with both Madame Toy and Sue Smith while down in Central America stopping the use of an atomic bomb.
---
This initial volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
"The Trouble In Ismiria", "The Trap Of Comrade Gorsk", "Taking The Fight To Gorsk", "Trouble In Central America", "The Return of Madame Toy", and the beginning of "To Take Down General Prodres".

4 Cannon #2 Cannon #2
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1979

Reprint of full-size pages #34 - #66 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper. 11"x17", black and white.
Tells of the removal from office of General Prodres in a Central American country, learning the origins of both Madame Toy and Sue Smith, dealing with a conman with an interesting personal life, and watching Cannon suffer getting suspended and the trouble that comes with it.
---
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The second half of "To Take Down General Prodres", all of 
"The Life and Times Of Toy and Sue" and "Fund Raising", and all but the very end of "The Suspension Of Cannon".

5 Cannon #3 Cannon #3
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1979

Reprint of full-size pages #67 - #99 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper. 11"x17", black and white.
Tells of the reinstatement of Cannon, the interesting trouble with a domestic terror group vying for power with a private militia, going up against foreign agents using mind reading to steal vital secrets, and starting to investigate who is the mole revealing information in the department leading to the deaths of agents.
---
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The very end of "The Suspension Of Cannon", all of 
"The October Men vs Big John McGraw" and "Project Alpha", and the first half of "The Inside Leak".

6 Cannon #4 Cannon #4
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1980

Reprint of full-size pages #100 - #131 (the end) from the Overseas Weekly newspaper. 11"x17", black and white.
Tells of the finding more about the leak in the department and the terrible loss it brings to Cannon personally and to the department, watching the new Chief stay terribly in the dark for too long, and then a dangerous mission back to Ismiria to go up against a Fourth Reich with its own demented Fuehrer.
---
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The second half of "The Inside Leak", all of 
"To Control The Chief" and bringing the series to a close with "Return To Ismiria".

7 The Infamous Madame Toy! The Infamous Madame Toy!
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #1, February 1991, 32 half page reprints of full-size pages #1-16 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
Tells of the history of Cannon and Madame Toy as well as the mission by Cannon to rescue the leader of the country of Ismiria held by Madame Toy, followed by the trap for him back in Iowa by communist spymaster Comrade Gorsk and his beautiful colleague, Sue Smith.

---
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
"The Trouble In Ismiria" and "The Trap Of Comrade Gorsk" as well as most the arc "Taking The Fight To Gorsk"


8 Dog Fights in the Air, Cat Fights on the Ground Dog Fights in the Air, Cat Fights on the Ground
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #2, March 1991, 34 half page reprints of full-size pages #17-33 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
Tells how Cannon takes the fight with Gorsk to the communist spymaster. It then details the mission to a Central American country run by a dictator and being challenged by an even worse rebel general.
---
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The very end of "Taking The Fight To Gorsk", all of "Trouble In Central America" and "The Return of Madame Toy" as well as some of "To Take Down General Prodres"


8 Love, Lust, And Larceny Love, Lust, And Larceny
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #3, April 1991, 34 half page reprints of full-size pages #34-50 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
Tells how Cannon concludes his mission in Central America with some original thinking. It also reveals the origins of both Madame Toy and Sue Smith and how they came to work for their respective communist countries. It also has the assignment to deal with a conman with an interesting personal life.
---
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The conclusion of "To Take Down General Prodres",
all of "The Life and Times Of Toy and Sue" as well as
most of "Fund Raising".

9 The Farmer's Daughter's Affairs Affair! The Farmer's Daughter's Affairs Affair!
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #4, May 1991, 32 half page reprints of full-size pages #51-66 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
Tells the ending of the conman issue and then the surprise suspension of Cannon and his This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The conclusion of "Fund Raising" and all but the very end of "The Suspension Of Cannon".

10 Stateside Sleaze Stateside Sleaze
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #5, June 1991, 32 half page reprints of full-size pages #67-82 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The conclusion of "The Suspension Of Cannon", all of "The October Men vs Big John McGraw", and the beginning of "Project Alpha".

11 The Reconstructed Man The Reconstructed Man
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #6, July 1991, 34 half page reprints of full-size pages #83-99 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The conclusion of "Project Alpha" and the first half of "The Inside Leak".

12 Revenge For A Lost Love Revenge For A Lost Love
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #7, August 1991, 32 half page reprints of full-size pages #100-115 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The majority of and conclusion of "The Inside Leak" and
the very beginning of "To Control The Chief".

13 Ismeria, The Ultimate Climax Ismeria, The Ultimate Climax
Published by Wallace Wood
Contributors: Wally Woods (writer & artist)
Copyright: 1991

Published in Wallace Wood's Cannon #8, September 1991, 32 half page reprints of full-size pages #116-131 from the Overseas Weekly newspaper, black and white.
This volume contains the strips in the story arcs:
The second half of "To Control The Chief" and all of "Return To Ismiria".

COMIC STRIPS

Number of Arcs:14
Number of Strips:131
First Appearance:1971
Last Appearance:1973

       Having created the character of John Cannon some time before and published the first adventure in the inaugural issue of Heroes, Inc. Presents, Wally Wood gave new life to the adventures of this man, not to mention a whole lot more freedom to show considerable female nudity, when he agreed to write and draw those stories in the pages of Overseas Weekly.
       That publication is described by Wikipedia as: "The Overseas Weekly was an English-language newspaper published in Frankfurt, Germany, from 1950 to 1975. Its primary audience was American military personnel stationed in Europe, especially enlisted men and especially in Germany, reaching a circulation of about 50,000 copies a week. Sister publications eventually included Overseas Family and Overseas Traveler, as well as a Pacific edition during the height of the Vietnam War. Conflict with the U.S. military establishment was a frequent occurrence."


       The exact date for the first story arc remains a mystery to me. I have read that it was sometime in 1970 and it very well could have been. I have also read it was 1971. My personal calculations based on solid information but with some possible holes has it being August 1971. This is based on the fact that I have seen pictures of actual newsprint showing dates and then working on the assumption that each issue of the newspaper carried a Cannon strip, I arrive at that date. However, there could be gaps here and there where the weekly publication did not have a Cannon segment in it so the start date could have been sooner. Those other sources have the last strip running sometime in 1974 which my own flawed calculation would concur with.
       Adding to the date confusion was the fact that there were at least three 'editions' of the newspaper, the 'original', a Pacific coast version, and a European Edition. Each of those carried some or all of the Cannon strips but at different times with two of them showing strips in '75 and '76 which originally ran in '72 and '73.
       The format for the stories in the newspaper was similar to the Sunday comic strip pages in "regular" newspapers albeit in black and white rather than color. Each page consisted of four strips usually of 3-4 panels each. This is noteworthy in that later republications of the strips in comicbook format would sometimes have those four strips separated into two pages of two each. Altogether there were 131 pages of 4 strips each, (262 pages of 2 strips each for the comicbooks).

       Since Overseas Weekly was produced by civilians who answered to no military authority or government 'code', the prohibition of nudity did not hold back the artist from enjoying the occasional glimpse of the female anatomy. By occasional, I mean every page had at least a couple, if not many, such images. And by glimpse I mean boldly presented for every soldier, sailor, marine, and airman to enjoy.

       In standard comicbook fashion, of course, every woman was in fantastic shape and always generously endowed in both breasts and backside. These images were apparently meant to amuse and titillate, not to push the viewer over the edge, so there were no depictions of genitalia. If a hand was not coincidentally placed, a sheet edge or towel might be or a lampshade or such. Or the woman might be holding her legs 'just so'.
       Some of the women so displaying their attributes are shown to be quite upset by the often forced nudity but several, such as the deliciously unabashed Madame Toy, obviously reveled in having men enjoy the views and saw little reason to rush back into putting on clothing. Seeing that particular woman occasionally clad only in boots and a gun holster was, interesting.
       As was not uncommon for comicstrips, the end of one adventure was met with the beginning of the next with reasonable segues but no discernable start and end to each story arc. For that reason, the start and stop dates and strips are open to debate and what you see below is my interpretations. Because of this end/start overlap you will see the strip numbers also overlapping, as in the first arc ending in strip #13 and the second arc starting in the same strip.

       There are no titles given to each arc and no official synopsis. The title and plotlines shown below are mine and therefore worth every penny :-).

1   "The Trouble In Ismiria"
Strips: 1 - 7
Dates: 08/02/1971 - 09/13/1971
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

General Okat of Ismiria along with his bride has been kidnapped by Madame Toy and he is being forced to resign. The President orders Cannon to rescue them. After he frees them, he has a personal run-in with Madame Toy.

2   "The Trap Of Comrade Gorsk"
Strips: 7 - 13
Dates: 09/13/1971 - 10/25/1971
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

In a medieval castle in Eastern Europe, an elaborate trap has been lain by Comrade Gorsk to eliminate one man, Cannon. Back home, Cannon's boss orders him to take a two-week leave so he heads to Iowa and the farming community where his uncle lives. That is the trap, led by the sexy blonde Sue Smith, Gorsk has prepared.

3   "Taking The Fight To Gorsk"
Strips: 13 - 17
Dates: 10/25/1971 - 11/22/1971
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Cannon knows that the large number of men sent by Gorsk are still out for him so he decides to change his appearance drastically and take the fight to them in Minneapolis.

4   "Trouble In Central America"
Strips: 17 - 23
Dates: 11/15/1971 - 01/03/1972
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

The wily Sue Smith might be caught again by Cannon but she is still deadly, just ask the agent named Weasel. She is now sent to the Central American country of San Sierra to ingratiate herself with the ruling dictator, General Torres. A newly released Madame Toy is also sent there by her goverment to join up with the rebel leader Podres. So is Cannon because rumors say either Podres or Torres has possession of an atomic bomb.

5   "The Return of Madame Toy"
Strips: 23 - 32
Dates: 01/03/1972 - 03/06/1972
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Cannon tries to infiltrate the Central American rebel gang but is denouced by Madame Toy. In a twist, she and he agree to work together to rescue Sue Smith to keep the nuclear weapon out of the hands of either the dictator or the rebels.

6   "To Take Down General Prodres"
Strips: 32 - 36
Dates: 03/06/1972 - 04/03/1972
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

In the chaos of the downfall of the dictator, Cannon flees with Madame Toy and Sue Smith into the jungle for several weeks as they recover. After making sure that the two women are forced out of the country, Cannon's new task is to oust the rebel General Prodres who has taken over the country.

7   "The Life and Times Of Toy and Sue"
Strips: 36 - 41
Dates: 04/03/1972 - 05/01/1972
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Forced to travel together, Madame Toy and Sue Smith spend time learning of each other's history and how they came to be in the espionage business. Arriving in the States, both Madame Toy and Sue Smith are arrested by the federal authorities. Cannon, when he returns, is told to take some time off so he heads back to Iowa. The stay is short-lived when the two women escape and he is recalled to duty.

8   "Fund Raising"
Strips: 41 - 52
Dates: 05/01/1972 - 07/17/1972
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Charles Fogarty is a handsome man in the "fund raising" business - as he explains to one of his ladies, he asks people for money and they give it to him, though not mentioned is the fact that he is really a shakedown artist who pretends to be a hitman to lure victims into paying him to not kill them. When he picks a patsy who turns out to be a federal agent and there is a struggle, things turn deadly and Cannon is sent to investigate. Fogarty is snatched up by Madame Toy's men and told he will either die then or receiving $10k for killing a man - Cannon.

9   "The Suspension Of Cannon"
Strips: 52 - 67
Dates: 07/17/1972 - 10/30/1972
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Cannon is stunned when his Chief chastises him for having gone too far in the Podres matter and for the fact that Madame Toy had eluded capture again. Suddenly Cannon is suspended. When even his latest girl friend rejects him (under orders from the Chief) he turns to drink and ends up back in Iowa where he takes a temp job working on a neighbor's farm (the lovely daughter plays a part in his decision). Fellow agents Hurley Simms and Weasel arrive to keep an eye on him. And when Madame Toy learns where he is, she asks Sue Smith to head that way as well. From then on, things go a bit crazy, including a visit by Madame Toy who tells Cannon she is being recalled to China to teach other agents, her bosses thinking her too old for the field. She asks Cannon to come with he but he opts out.

10   "The October Men vs Big John McGraw"
Strips: 67 - 80
Dates: 10/30/1972 - 02/05/1973
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

When Cannon is pulled off of suspension by his scheming Chief, he is ordered to look into a "group of revolutionary fanatics who call themselves the 'October Men'". They are based out of California and have recently hijacked a shipment of .30 caliber ammo. He pulls in Weasel for help who surprisingly agrees with a two-timing hussy from the previous arc, Diane, who offers to go with him to help. Weasel infiltrates an organization run by oil-rich billionaire Big John McGraw, a fellow who wants to change the government with him running things. Cannon infiltrates the October Men and learns they are about to go up against McGraw's private army.

11   "Project Alpha"
Strips: 80 - 92
Dates: 02/05/1973 - 04/23/1973
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Cannon is given a desk job back in D.C. The lovely Elena, formerly secretary to the Chief and a woman in love with Cannon, is briefly his Girl Friday before she is transferred to Department 'A' which is running a top secret project called 'Alpha', a "radically refined, super guidance control computer". Enemy spies want the lowdown on it and they plan to 'tap her mind' to get the intel. Since Cannon had recently dated her and still had feelings for her, he was not in a good mood.

12   "The Inside Leak"
Strips: 92 - 114
Dates: 04/23/1973 - 10/01/1973
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Cannon is promised no more field assignments even though he admits that he enjoyed the excitement. A new mission to uncover a dangerous leak in HQ comes up and Hurley Simms, recently married to Alice, is given the assignment. Unfortunately, word gets to the gang he was to investigate in San Francisco that the new guy joining them, Simms, was a Fed. The leak comes via the new admin assistant for the Chief, a man named Schneider, who luscious girl friend, Gerta, is an enemy plant who uses pillow talk to learn far too much. Even as he prepares to head to help, Cannon decides after hearing Elena is pregnant with his child that they should get married. The lead assassin for the enemy spy cell is tipped off and blows up the church to kill Cannon but only kills Elena. Cannon will not rest until he gets revenge and gets it, though not before the assassin kills the Chief.

13   "To Control The Chief"
Strips: 114 - 120
Dates: 10/01/1973 - 11/12/1973
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

Though the spy cell's plan was mostly destroyed by Cannon and associates, the new temporary Chief is the admin assistant, Schneider, whose girl friend is the real leak. Schneider is determined to get rid of Cannon by giving him every rotten assignment he can think of.  Cannon, though, suspects Gerta. The spy cell brings in a new assassin to take on Cannon even as Schneider's beautiful grown daughter, Wendy, shows up for a visit. The spy cell decides kidnapping her is the perfect way to perfect way to get Schneider totally under control. Cannon decides otherwise.

14   "Return To Ismiria"
Strips: 120 - 131
Dates: 11/12/1973 - 01/28/1974
Contributors: Wally Wood (writer and artist)

In the country of Ismiria there is "a total intelligence blackout" and the leader of the country, General Okat, a friend of Cannon from the first adventure, has gone missing. Cannon is sent to learn what is up. Okat is being held prisoner by the leader of a neo-Nazi group, the new Fuhrer is quite insane but totally dedicated to the destruction of Israel using a nuclear weapon.

MY COMMENTS

When I was in the military, this sort of adventure largely told in the pages of an independent newspaper devoted to GIs like myself would have been just the thing to grab me and keep me buying each weekly issue. Unfortunately, I never saw it. Not once.

Trust me when I say if I had even once opened up the pages and seen depictions of gorgeous, impossibly endowed woman who never are able to keep clothes on, I would have noticed. And read. And remembered ... forever!

But nope, never saw it so never enjoyed it. Until recently. Luckily people like Eros Comics and Fantagraphics have kept brought the hero back to us and along with him those incredible apparel-deprived ladies.

It is important to note that while the near constant display of T&A is what gets the attention of people like me, the artwork and the storytelling are what make this series so entertaining.

Wally Wood was incredible in his grasp of staging and display, If a panel needed to show an action, he made sure the "camera" was far enough back for us to get the whole picture but not too far back to confuse things with superfluous objects. Close-up were there when called for to show the emotion of the moment and the people so depicted looked like people. He was indeed a superb artist.

And he was a darn good storyteller. The Cannon stories are a blast to read. And re-read.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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