Leapin' Lizards! They're Gonna Kill Annie!


“The sun will come out tomorrow, but the tomorrow after June 13 will be the first in generations to dawn without ‘Annie’ appearing in a daily newspaper.” Read all about it:

That quote, bye the way, comes from Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal, a colleague of Annie’s. Little Orphan Annie has been a staple of the funnies since artist Harold Gray first created the strip (originally Little Orphan Otto) for the Trib in 1924. Although (largely thanks to the musical) the strip is associated with the Depression, in fact the spunky heroine predated the stock market crash by 5 years. And as anyone who’s spent any time with the early comic knows, it was weird. There’s Annie’s strange rivalry with the short-lived Mrs. Warbucks, Daddy Warbucks’ criticism of the New Deal (in fact, he was killed off during the 30s, only coming back to life after FDR’s death), or the character of Mister Am, who may or may not be God.

All of this was expunged from the long-lived radio show of Christmas Story fame and, obviously, from the musical and its film version. In all these, Annie’s eyes had pupils, there were no vague deities, and Roosevelt was a jolly chum. What had been an adult cartoon was now a child’s product. (Although the genuinely terrifying bridge-chase sequence at the movie’s end does hearken back to the strange darkness of the early strips, in which Annie’s life was forever imperiled by malevolent adults.)

Now, Tribune Media Services, a division of Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co., is pulling the plug. Although the strip’s last episode is slated for 6/13, its current authors, Jay Maeder and artist Ted Slampyak, have optimistically – or sadistically? – ended it on a cliffhanger. And the company’s president had this to say to the Trib; you decide whether it’s heartening or depressing: “This doesn’t mean that Annie won’t come back … whether it’s (in) comic books, graphic novels, in print, electronic. It’s just too rich a vein (not) to mine.”

While this is undoubtedly melancholy, let’s be honest: most of us haven’t exactly been propping up Annie’s livelihood, or can rattle off her latest adventures. We all have her blood on our hands. And her vacant eyes will haunt our dreams.

‘Annie’ Left A Homeless Orphan In Newspaper World
[Chicago Tribune]
‘Little Orphan Annie’ Comic Canceled By Tribune Media Services [NY Daily News]

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