Celebrate Little Orphan Annie’s 85th birthday!
Click on the illustration above or click here to jump to comic artist Kurt Kolka’s birthday tribute to Annie! Kurt’s nationally active in promoting classic comics—and new indie comic artists, too. He’s the creator of the Cardinal comic strip, which we profiled in this earlier story about enduring importance of comics.
Here’s the birthday comic strip!
The Official Little Orphan Annie 85th Birthday comic strip.
And here’s more …
The classic American comic strip “Little Orphan Annie”
turns 85 years old on August 5. As one of the five longest-running comic strips
still in print, Annie has made her mark in newspapers, on the radio, in
films and on Broadway. The ever-popular redhead continues to promote
the values of respecting elders, working hard and warding off evil. Read some of the more recent “Little Orphan Annie” adventures here.
In 1924, Harold Gray began the strip with a suggestion from his editor
at the Chicago Tribune Syndicate. The title of the comic was inspired
by an 1885 poem by James Whitcomb Riley, “Little Orphant Annie.”
Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep …
Although Harold originally called his strip “Little Orphan Otto,” the
lack of female protagonists in comics at the time inspired the famous
Film and Broadway adaptations have cast Annie as a singing orphan, but
the comic strip reads quite differently than these lighthearted
storylines. On paper, Annie battles criminals, smugglers and gangsters,
dodges bullets and fights crime around the world. Her ability to remain
young is due to the fact that she was born on Leap Day, February 29,
and therefore—or so the story goes—ages only one year for every four
years that pass.
The Library of Congress created an exhibition, “Cartoon America,” which includes “Little Orphan Annie.”
In 1930, “Little Orphan Annie” became a radio show with a young
audience—something rare at the time—and a movie adaptation followed in
1932. It wasn’t until 1977 that the orphan and her loyal companion,
Sandy, hit the stages of New York.
“She’s been a
multi-generational heroine from the comic strip, to the popular radio
show from 1930-42, to the revival with the musical and movie in the
’80s,” says Kurt Kolka, a journalist and comic artist himself. (Kolka produces the Cardinal comic strip.)
“Little Orphan Annie” was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990,
and the comic strip continues today through the artwork of Ted
Slampyak. You can listen to a radio show of “Little Orphan Annie” at the Radio Hall of Fame Web site. Or check out today’s comic here.
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