Lizards, Leap No More: Little Orphan Annie Strip To End In June We pause to pay tribute to Little Orphan Annie, whose long reign in comics will end in June.
NPR logo Lizards, Leap No More: Little Orphan Annie Strip To End In June

Lizards, Leap No More: Little Orphan Annie Strip To End In June

Little Orphan Annie's very long reign will end in June. Tribune Media Services hide caption

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Tribune Media Services

Last week, Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal reported that Tribune Media Services, publisher of beloved moppet/octogenarian Little Orphan Annie, will end the strip on June 13th. 

[Bitterly ironic joke involving "(The Sun'll Come Out) Tomorrow" goes here.]

Many things about the strip have stayed the same since it first appeared in 1924. In latter-day adventures written by Jay Maeder and drawn by Ted Slampyak, Annie's still in "darn meddling kid" mode, gettin' in all kindsa crazy scrapes. Sandy can still be counted on for a well-timed "Arf," Daddy Warbucks still wears a tux to work, and the entire cast still stares out at the reader with lidless, empty eyes the color of sepulchers, of bleached bone, of things that hunger in the dark places of the world; eyes of the Evil Dead.     

"Joiiiiin ussssss," Annie seems to say. And in Sandy's case: "Aaaaaarrrffff."

Yet some things have changed. Annie's swapped her trademark red mop, Felicity-like, for a shorter 'do, and ditched the dress for dungarees. Another thing that's changed: according to reports, the strip's readership is at an all-time low, now appearing in only 20 or so newspapers across the country. Even the Chicago Tribune, a division of the very company that owns the strip, stopped running her in 1992.  

["It's a Hard Knock Life" joke goes here.]

The Washington Post's Michael Cavna did some virtual-shoe-leather reporting to get TMS' take on the factors that went into their decision. (In the interview, the TMS suit makes sure you know that while they do get a licensing fee whenever a theater producer slaps freckles and a red fright wig on some adorable tyke, they don't get a cut of the box office, or the iTunes sales.)

We're taking a moment to salute the strip's passing here in an attempt to make up for my unintentional yet unthinking diss of it in this space about a year ago. Time and/or blog software wonkiness seems to have eaten just about all of the post in question, but briefly:

I posited that the longest-running fictional character -- and I defined "longest running" very specifically -- was the Man of Steel. I was promptly, gently but firmly corrected by alla y'all that I'd completely forgotten about both Little Orphan Annie and Gasoline Alley's Walt Wallet and Skeezix. Well, that's not entirely true -- I'd forgotten about Little Orphan Annie, and simply assumed that Gasoline Alley was no longer running. (Wrongly.)

Technically, the Annie strip went into re-runs for a few years during the '70s, which by my (admittedly idiosyncratic) criteria, put her out of the running. But even so: June 13th will see the end of one of the last great marathon accomplishments in long-form comics storytelling.  

Walt Wallet and Skeezix: You've won this day. Enjoy it. You don’t have to worry about that cursed ginger tween and her mongrel outlasting you.  

True, you're owned by TMS, just as she was. But don't worry. They'd never pull the plug on the longest-running comic strip in history, even if it's to explore "other channels" when you finally "cross the profit-loss curve."