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Posted at 10:36 AM ET, 05/13/2010

LEAPIN' LIZARDS! 'Little Orphan Annie' to walk into the sunset

By Michael Cavna

The sun will come out tomorrow -- but not for many more tomorrows for "Little Orphan Annie."


Daddy Warbucks's favorite little tyke may have used pluck to survive the past 86 years in daily newspapers, but now she's apparently outta luck. Come June 13, her clear-eyed vision of the world will her syndicate, Tribune Media Services, sends her off into the sunset.

So reports the Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal, who writes: "June 13 will be the first in generations to dawn without 'Annie' appearing in a daily newspaper.

"The final Sunday panel of the strip, once seen in hundreds of papers but now run by fewer than 20, will end with Daddy Warbucks uncertain over what happened to Annie in her latest run-in with the Butcher of the Balkans. And, leaping lizards, what about her dog, Sandy? Arf."

After eight decades, though, it's a hard-to-knock-her-off life. Rosenthal quotes a Tribune Media Services executive who says that "Annie" is definitely not dying,

Said Steve Tippie, TMS'svice president of licensing: Annie "will definitely have a life beyond this newspaper incarnation. ...The daily newspaper strip will go away. Now, that 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."

Creator Harold Gray launched the strip Aug. 5, 1924, and his ever-spunky redhead endured the Depression and a world war and travel-happy adventures. After Gray died in 1968, a succession of cartoonists produced the comic, which ran in reruns from 1974-79 until the success of the Broadway musical "Annie" sparked Leonard Starr to bring the strip back to life.

In the '90s, "Little Orphan Annie" was commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp -- one of 20 comics so honored at the time.

The artist who now draws the strip, Ted Slampyak, said of "Little Orphan Annie's" goodbye: "It's kind of painful. It's almost like mourning the loss of a friend."

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By Michael Cavna  | May 13, 2010; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  General, The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Chicago Tribune, Comics, Harold Gray, Leonard Starr, Little Orphan Annie, Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, Phil Rosenthal, Tribune Media Services  
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How about using that down time to draw some pupils for the poor ole gal....

Posted by: andio76 | May 13, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

See ya, Annie. may you be followed in short order by Peanuts reruns, Gasoline Alley, Barney Google/Snuffy Smith, For Better or For Worse, etc.

Posted by: drewdane | May 13, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

More space for Barney & Clyde!

Posted by: hlabadie | May 13, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"It's just too rich a vein (not) to mine."

Actually, they strip-mined that vein dry a looooonnnng time ago. here's another call for the removal of strips no longer being done by their original creators. Blondie? Mark Trail? Snuffy Smith? B.C.? We're looking at you here.

As much as I love the classic strips, seeing the Annie strip die feels similar to watching someone who has been in a coma and on life support die. You feel sad, but with the realization that they were no longer the person they were, and hadn't been for a long time.

Posted by: erik_k | May 13, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

My pore ol daddy is a cryin in his grave. She wuz his boyhood sweetheart.

Posted by: nonsensical2001 | May 13, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't that long ago that a cartoonist acquaintance called me about being offered ANNIE as a strip and he whined about how little they would've paid him. There's a nasty disconnect –and disrespect– between the nature of comic strips as art and American culture and the way they've been chopped and blown off as fodder. This, for what it's worth, is our mythology. If one terrible syndicate can't do it right, for goodness sakes, hand it off to someone who can do it right. Orphan Annie, at her prime, was a morality play on the great depression. We do her creator a terrible disservice by making it anything less.

Posted by: MarkFBraun | May 13, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I found "Little Orphan Annie" almost impossible to read when it was only 45 years old. It hasn't gotten any better since then. Yes, it was a great commentary on the times during the Great Depression and the old strips I read that took place during WWII were good too, but it hasn't been good or relevent in eons. If there hadn't been a musical,"Annie", I doubt many people would even be aware of the comic.

It's time to say good-bye. That sun ain't gonna come out tomorrow for Annie much longer.

Posted by: elyrest | May 13, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Didn't even realize she as still around. BUH-bye.

Posted by: kbockl | May 13, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Didn't even realize she was still around. BUH-bye.

Posted by: kbockl | May 13, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone even SEEN what passes for "Annie" lately? Dear goodness, she has a ponytail and wavy hair, is tall enough to be a teen in "Luann" (but is flat-chested of course), and more closely resembles Tintin than the little orphan.
That being said, however, it appears that the strip has an online cult following that many web comics would be envious of. Perhaps there is a future with this as a web-only feature or graphic novella?
And the cynic in me says the only reason they're keeping the character legally alive is to make more money off of royalties of school productions of "Annie The Musical"........

Posted by: LNER4472 | May 14, 2010 4:07 AM | Report abuse

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