Pop Culture

Little Orphan Annie Says Goodbye

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Little Orphan Annie's adventures are coming to an end in newspapers' comics pages Sunday. The comic strip has been running since Harold Gray created the red-headed, saucer-eyed character in 1924. Liane Hansen talks to Jay Maeder, the current writer of Little Orphan Annie.


Leapin' lizards, Little Orphan Annie's adventures are coming to an end in the funny papers today. The comic strip has been running since Harold Gray created the red-headed saucer-eyed character in 1924. Jay Maeder has been the writer for Orphan Annie since 2000 and is on the phone from Texas. Welcome to the program.

Mr. JAY MAEDER (Writer, Little Orphan Annie): Good morning.

HANSEN: Tell us, what did Harold Gray have in mind when he created what is now the iconic Annie?

Mr. MAEDER: He originally created Little Orphan Otto, as a matter of fact, who was a clunky little lad and the New York Daily News decided that Otto ought to be Annie instead.

HANSEN: Tell us how the comic and the character reflected the times when it was first published, and Harold Gray's point of view.

Mr. MAEDER: She was just an adventurous little kid who didn't really have to be accountable to anybody because she was mostly concerned with her own everyday survival. And she hooked up with Oliver Warbucks at a certain point fairly early on, who became her protector. And he was, of course, the richest guy on the entire planet, a very powerful industrialist, who over time began to reflect Harold Gray's crusty, arch-conservative 19th century Midwestern political views.

HANSEN: This was a dark comic. I mean, this was kind of an eerie comic in the early days, was it not?

Mr. MAEDER: Very dark.


Mr. MAEDER: Very paranoid - not necessarily without good reason you understand. Very much unlike the contemporary perception that people have of Annie strictly from the basis of the Broadway musical and the movie, you know, which is of this happily chirping little kid running around saying, I love you tomorrow, and so on and so forth. That's not Annie at all. That's not the comic strip Annie.

HANSEN: Yeah. Who's the comic strip Annie now?

Mr. MAEDER: Who is she now?

HANSEN: Um-hum.

Mr. MAEDER: What she has been under my stewardship: globetrotting, adventurous kid, usually in the company of a lady named Amelia Santiago, who is an ex-Marine, ex-CIA agent who does a lot of undercover work for both Oliver Warbucks and the U.S. military around the world.

HANSEN: Jay Maeder is the current writer for the Orphan Annie comic strip, which ends in newspapers today. Thank you. Good luck.

Mr. MAEDER: Thanks so much.

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