Little Orphan Annie, a legacy strip so over-the-hill that even the comic-strip mockery sites didn’t know it still existed, has been canceled. Obviously, this can’t be considered a great loss. Having been reminded that the strip was still being published, I took a look at it and found out that it’s as bad as you’d expect. In fact, I think the satire sites made a big mistake in not making fun of it (or maybe, like Nancy, it’s just too far gone to even make fun of). Still, the original strip is one of the great creations of American comics, so I can’t help but feel a little pang of sadness at seeing it go.
It’s hard to explain why Harold Gray’s strip is so great, since the most famous things about it — the blank eyeballs and Gray’s open hatred of the New Deal and unions — don’t sound too appealing when described. But the combination of sentimentality, social commentary, adventure, and appalling politics — all wrapped up in a lead character who is impossible not to like — made it one of the most personal and fascinating creations on the comics page. Gray would portray Daddy Warbucks as a heroic fascist in one panel, and have you crying over his love for Annie in the next panel. Literally:
Well, the irony is Warbucks probably wishes the law (or even a union!) were around to protect him now that he’s being forced out of his job.