The Sun Won't Come Out Tomorrow
June 13, 2010 2:18 AM   Subscribe

"And This Is Where We Leave Our Annie: For Now" After 86 years, several artists and a major makeover, "Little Orphan Annie" the comic strip has ended... in mid-story. Leaving a hole in the comics page of less than 20 newspapers, the 'Princess of Pluck' already has a comeback planned with a revival of the "Annie" Broadway musical. So, once more, let's all sing that wonderful song... no, not THAT one... this one:
"Who's that little chatterbox
With the pretty auburn locks..."

(...and drink your Ovaltine)
posted by oneswellfoop (28 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Usually, when long-running comic strips 'retire', other comics do tributes or just little references. The only one I can find for Annie so far is from a Lady of the Funnies who is, in some ways, even older than she is: Queen Victoria.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:52 AM on June 13, 2010

We all could drop dead
So have lots of sex tonight, because tomorrow
You might die.

Just thinking about
Makes me want to take the money that I've borrowed
And get high.

So I'll shoot heroin
And sin
And party
Then I'll drink some more gin
And grin
And say ...
Hey ...

We all could drop dead
So live for tonight, 'cause you could collapse tomorrow,
And you may!
Make love 'til
It's only
A day away.

Resquiescat in pacem, Annie. Tomorrow finally caught up with you, as it will catch up with us all.
posted by kyrademon at 2:52 AM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

I read the comics faithfully when Calvin & Hobbes was in print. It provided me a joy and expansion of vocabulary, imagination, philosophy, and world view that no one before or sense could ever hope to convey in the medium. No surprise there. I developed a system for the rest of the comics: I'd glance at Dilbert, since it was usually topical and amusing, skip Garfield unless I wanted to roll my eyes, check out Foxtrot next since it was "pretty good" to 16-year-old me, move along to Peanuts and smile since it was always reliable at warming the cockles of my heart, get annoyed at Luann (and later Zits), briefly hope Non-Sequitir could perhaps help fill the hole left in my heart after C&H ceased only to forever be disappointed, puzzle over Doonesbury before my newspaper moved it to the Editorials page (though I laughed at the Foxtrot where Jason makes a Doonesbury website with the line, "to read today's strip, click here, to read the 22-page interview with German Finance Minister Theo Waigel from the Novermber issue of The Economist, which helps put the punchline in some context, click here." Oh, hey, found it), and then spend the rest of my time shouting at the heavens, cursing the editors who somehow thought it appropriate to still print Rex Morgan, M.D., Cathy, Wizard of Id, and a host of others (what the hell is Rose is Rose or that one with the duck or sweet-chocolate-Christ-what-the-fuck-is-Zippy-the-Pinhead-no-seriously-what-the-fuck?)

I've moved on to a handful of web comics now, like the enjoyable and well-drawn Questionable Content, occasionally XKCD when it's funny and Penny Arcade when it's not insanely obscure, and a few others. I mostly just leaf through Calvin & Hobbes, its re-read value something of unimpeachable timeless beauty.

That said, I think Annie fell into the "why is this still around" category for me. Dull and a labor to read through, I'm just glad we've seen the medium migrate to the internet, where anyone can publish a comic for pennies and a publisher at a syndicate isn't standing between me and something great. I can't wait to see what else is out there.
posted by disillusioned at 2:57 AM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah ... Annie always sat squarely in the Prince Valiant/Cathy Ghetto for me.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:09 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, the eyes in the comic strip always weirded me out a little bit. I was curious if the internets would have any info on them (why draw empty holes?). I didn't discover much on the eyes themselves, but I did learn that " 'Orphan Annie eye' (empty or 'ground glass') nuclei are a characteristic histological finding in papillary carcinoma of the thyroid gland." (w) ... basically, the nuclei of thyroid cancer cells look like the eyes of the characters from the comic strip.

I'm not sure how they explain that one to med students.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:34 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Although I was never a fan of Annie, that comic was part of our cultural landscape here in the US. Along with Dick Tracy (with his futuristic gadgets) and Prince Valiant (who gave his name to a haircut) their glacially-paced plots made them nearly impossible to read in this day of TV show that resolve their conflicts in less than an hour, but it was comforting nonetheless to see them on the comics page week after week. Rex Morgan and Judge Parker, on the other hand, should have been scrapped long ago.

I was surprised to see that Annie ran in less than 20 newspapers; it seems as if some of these long-running comics are foreshadowing the fate of newspapers in general.
posted by TedW at 3:53 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how they explain that one to med students.

Reference is a little obscure for the young. Suggest you leave out the word "orphan" when explaining to a patients family.
posted by hal9k at 5:20 AM on June 13, 2010

I deliberately read the entire comics section as a kid--everything--though some of them were certainly not written for me by that point: Brenda Starr, Annie, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, and even Spiderman relied on longer plots, slower pacing, and knowledge of the characters and context (which I eventually developed). It's kind of fascinating that those comics coexisted with Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, and The Far Side.

Somewhere in between were strips like Doonesbury and For Better or For Worse, with evolving characters and settings but what felt like shorter story arcs. I liked those. At that age I liked Garfield too, was indifferent to Cathy, BC, the Wizard of Id, and Family Circus; and then there were Marmaduke, Heathcliff, Ziggy, and Andy Capp.

Anyway, like generations before me Annie was part of my childhood and it's a little sad to see the strip fade away.
posted by Songdog at 5:23 AM on June 13, 2010

Wait, wait, wait... She's being led off into the Guatemalan jungle by a Balkan war criminal and then it just ends? That's kind of awesome, in it's own weird way.
posted by Artw at 6:19 AM on June 13, 2010 [7 favorites]

June 8 2010:
"A new production of the musical "Annie" is scheduled to open on Broadway in Fall 2012, the show's producers announced.

"Annie" features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan. It is based on the newspaper comic strip character "Little Orphan Annie" by Harold Gray. The original production opened April 21, 1977, at Manhattan's Alvin Theatre."
posted by iviken at 6:43 AM on June 13, 2010

That's a quality "THE END. Or is it? Probably." In the last text panel there.

Still, it beats the last panel of the Jack Kirby OMAC, now there was an abrupt ending.
posted by Artw at 6:59 AM on June 13, 2010

So, in this "major makeover", Annie looks more like a modern kid, but Daddy Warbucks still wears a tux to the office? That's... kind of cool, actually. Don't change, Daddy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:40 AM on June 13, 2010

"Some have called me (a) dirty capitalist," Warbucks said on his deathbed in August 1944, according to Maeder. "But I've merely used the imagination and common sense and energy that kind of providence gave me. Now? Well, Annie, times have changed, and I'm old and tired. I guess it's time to go!"

A year later, with Roosevelt dead, Warbucks rejoined the living. "Somehow," he said, smoking a cigar, "I feel that the climate here has changed since I went away."

Oh... oh.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:40 AM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Walt Kelly ran several Pogo strips parodying "Little Arf'an Nonny," with Albert in drag, and the characters complaining about how hard it was to see with eyes like that. ("Help me get my eyeballs unblanked. They's stuck.") Not only did Annie outlast the much finer Pogo, I believe that the strip itself had a longer lifespan than Kelly.

I was obsessed with the movie when I was tiny, and always wanted to play pretend Little Orphan Annie. There's something romantic about being an orphan, for kids -- that is, for kids with loving homes, not orphans. I think it's not unrelated to the Disney Mom's Curse. But even as a kid, I knew what a zombie comic strip was, and I didn't bother reading Annie, because it wasn't "real" Little Orphan Annie.

(Although I didn't bother reading Dick Tracy for the same reason, I recently found out that the original Dick Tracy is remarkably good, adjusting for stretchy plot devices and casual '30s racist jokes. I would never have believed this.)
posted by Countess Elena at 7:42 AM on June 13, 2010

She's just taking time off to get pupil implants.
posted by jonmc at 7:45 AM on June 13, 2010

posted by marxchivist at 7:51 AM on June 13, 2010

Drink your Ovaltine?
posted by John of Michigan at 7:58 AM on June 13, 2010

Meh. They just took Anne of Green Gables (pluck and all), gave her a perm, and stuck her in where Oliver Twist left off.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:01 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Zombie strip dies.

World cheers, eagerly awaits death of other zombie strips to make room for new blood.

I've got a proposal: the instant the creator either stops doing it himself (ie: by hiring hordes of others do do the work while he signs his name, yes I'm talking to you Jim Davis), or dies, the strip dies too.

How many quality comics have been refused because some twit decided that keeping B.C., or Family Circus, or Annie, was safer than risking a new strip? I hate all zombie strips with a burning passion. Let them die.
posted by sotonohito at 8:35 AM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

I hate zombie strips with a passion, too, but I'd rather let them continue their harmless zombie existences as placeholders if it meant preventing yet another lame, overcaffeinated, poorly-drawn "new blood" strip from getting put there in place of them. I can survive without another new strip along the lines of "Committed," "Cow & Boy," (seriously, a strip about a talking cow and a farmboy?) or "9 Chickweed Lane." There's no risk in a new strip if it's lamer than the zombie strip it replaces.
posted by blucevalo at 9:02 AM on June 13, 2010


What Zippy the Pinhead is is awesome. It's an underground comic strip you know, it's only a fluke of syndication that got it into actual newspapers.
posted by JHarris at 12:45 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Slightly off topic, but Prince Valiant ran a wonderful series of Sunday strips in which a Dick Cheney like character tried to impose a system of loyalty oaths and torture on Valiant's father's kingdom, attempting to become the king's closest adviser. Complete takedown of everything that the neoconservatives were saying at the time.

Of course, I was one of perhaps a dozen people who noticed, which is a shame.
posted by Hactar at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

blucevalo Eh, you win some you lose some. But a zombie strip is a known loser. Maybe you have to replace its replacement, and repeat a few times before you get something good, that still beats a zombie strip.

And, for the record, leaving aside the current storyline I kinda like 9 Chickweed lane.

But taste to the side, I think that anything is better than the idea of comic strips as an eternal fief passed from creator to their designated heir and thus locking out any and all newcomers.
posted by sotonohito at 2:13 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Back in the 90s Fantagraphics published a series of collections of the very early Little Orphan Annie newspaper strips. I was working in a failing comic shop at the time and whiled away the empty-shop hours reading everything on the shelves. Little Orphan Annie absolutely blew me away. Melodramatic, sure; black-and-white characterisation; over-written; couldn't see a point without walloping it repeatedly over the course of a week. But they live and sing, and speak to (and tell of) the mood of their times with an extraordinary eloquence.

Sometimes you have to wait for someone to die to remember why it was you liked them in the first place. Go back to the original strips. They are not what you are expecting.
posted by Hogshead at 2:54 PM on June 13, 2010 [6 favorites]

Nothing, absolutely nothing a newspaper did could piss off readers more than dropping a favorite comic strip. Even screwing up the crossword puzzle or forgetting to run Ann Landers' column was nothing compared to comic-strip anger.
posted by etaoin at 5:32 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

After reading the strip Ralphie Parker blinked in disbelief, put down the newspaper, and muttered "Sonofabitch."

I absolutely love the idea of permanently and purposefully ending the strip on a cliffhanger. Especially since the cliffhanger is the serial's bread and butter. End with a cliffhanger! Leave the character's fate in doubt! You gotta make people want to know what happens next!

Only this time, the ambiguously hopeful "...for now" caption aside, we'll never know what happens next to Little Orphan Annie.

God, that's brilliant.
posted by Spatch at 3:07 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

The 'Little Orphan Annie' Cliffhanger Finale Is Completely Insane

Things seem so hopeless, in fact, that the police spend a Sunday strip informing Daddy Warbucks that his adopted daughter has most likely been shot in the head execution style and fed to sharks. Really.

If the cancellation order had come down a week sooner, a gang of frenzied sharks circling Annie's waterlogged remains would've been the very last image of her, but instead, the story does go on for another week, where we learn that Annie wasn't killed, she was rescued from the gangsters by a renegade war criminal named The Butcher of the Balkans.

posted by Artw at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Supposedly, the song "Tomorrow" was written for the show "Annie" because there was a really long scene change, and they needed something for the time.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:48 PM on June 19, 2010

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