5 Aug: The Girl in the Comic Strip

Little Orphan Annie, Harold Gray’s plucky heroine, made her newspaper debut on 5th August, 1924. The iconic comic strip then ran for an astonishing 86 years.

Although now most associated with the saccharine musical it inspired, ‘Annie’ was MUCH edgier in comic form – gangsters and Nazis made an appearance, and Daddy Warbucks was so disappointed by the election of FDR that he DIED (briefly. Before being brought back to life).

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how, for millions of readers, comic strips once filled the role of soap operas; reveal how Gray plagiarized a popular poem for the name of his heroine; and tell how Ovaltine had a disproportionate influence on the plot-lines of Annie’s titular radio show… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Little Orphan Annie and Little Orphan Annie in Cosmic City by Harold Gray’ (Chicago Herald Tribune, 1926, 1933): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Little_Orphan_Annie_and_Little_Orphan_An/pUOpAAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=little+orphan+annie&printsec=frontcover

• ‘The Politics of “Annie”’ (The New Yorker, 2012): https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-politics-of-annie

• ‘Why “Little Orphan Annie” is Important in Comics’ (Comic Book Historians, 2021):

If you enjoyed this episode, there’s FIVE MINUTES more from the cutting room floor about how Little Orphan Annie showcased Harold Gray’s libertarianism, and ended on an ominous note with the ‘Butcher of the Balkans’.

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