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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #331

Welcome to the three hundredth and thirty-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, shockingly enough, it is a LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE theme week! Did I just blow your mind? Good! This week, be shocked at the truth about whether Annie creator Harold Gray actually had Daddy Warbucks kill himself rather than suffer through a fourth term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the truth of this one is quite twisted), learn why you don’t want to try to ration Harold Gray’s gas and discover just who Little Orphan OTTO was.

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and thirty.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Harold Gray originally pitched the strip as starring an orphan named Otto.

STATUS: True

Newspaper publisher and editor Joseph Medill Patterson was particularly involved in the comic strips that he featured in his newspapers (first the Chicago Tribune, which was founded by his grandfather and later, the New York Daily News, founded by, well, him). Through his diligence, he built the Chicago Tribune Syndicate into one of the most powerful comic strip syndicates around (it still is, just under its current name of Tribune Media Services). He either helped create or helped develop some of the greatest comic strips of all-time, including Gasoline Alley, Dick Tracy and Terry and the Pirates. One of his biggest early hits was The Gumps, which cartoonist Sidney Smith developed from a Patterson idea. The Gumps, a domestic comedy about “ordinary” people, was a national smash (in 1922, Smith signed a ten-year, $1 million dollar contract!) and when Patterson founded the Daily News in 1919, The Gumps was the only Chicago Tribune strip that he brought over to the new paper (at first).

Smith had an assistant on the strip named Harold Gray. Gray, naturally, wanted to have his own strip (as, well, who wouldn’t?) and he would develop a number of ideas and go over them with Smith. Smith, to his credit, was quite helpful to his assistant in the development of Gray’s ideas. Whenever Gray would come up with an idea that Smith liked, Gray would pitch it to Patterson. For months, Patterson shot down all of his ideas. Finally, in 1924, Gray pitched him on the notion of a strip about a young orphan boy named Otto who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and went on a number of adventures. Patterson liked the novelty of an orphan lead, so he told Gray to work up a sample, but to make sure that it was a cute looking kid so that the strip would appeal to women readers (similar advice from Patterson to Gasoline Alley creator Frank King in 1921 led to the introduction of abandoned baby Skeezix, who was adopted by the single male lead of the strip, Walt Wallet. It turned a strip about cars that was clearly geared towards men into a cross-market hit). Once Gray delivered his drawings of young Otto (at this point, Gray apparently began to refer to him specifically as “Little Orphan Otto), complete with cute curls, Patterson opined, “The kid looks like a pansy to me. Put a skirt on him and we’ll call it ‘Little Orphan Annie'” (Patterson almost surely was also considering that there were many more strips about young boys than there were strips about young girls, making Little Orphan ANNIE stand out a bit).

And the rest, as they say, is history…

Here’s one of the earliest strips, where young Annie is adopted (as a publicity stunt) by the wife of Oliver Warbucks. Warbucks takes to Annie quickly (click on the strip to enlarge – that goes for all the strips in this piece, they can be enlarged by clicking on them)…

Mrs. Warbucks was soon written out of the strip.

The name, “Little Orphan Annie” (and heck, Little Orphan Otto, as well) is a reference to James Whitcomb Riley’s popular 19th Century poem, Little Orphant Annie.

Here’s a snippet from Riley’s poem:

INSCRIBED WITH ALL FAITH AND AFFECTION

To all the little children: — The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones — Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.

LITTLE Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;
An’ all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you
Ef you
Don’t
Watch
Out!

Thanks to Robert C. Harvey’s The art of the funnies: an aesthetic history for the Patterson quote!

COMIC LEGEND: Gray used his strip to specifically harass the clerk who turned him down for an increase in his gas rations during World War II.

STATUS: Bizarrely True

One of the main tenets of Gray’s strip was the idea of self-reliance. Therefore, while many have written about how Gray would use his strip to express his political views (he was quite conservative and libertarian), it is worth noting that his political philosophies were integral to the very set-up of the strip, so it was not like it was not unnatural.

That said, while it was natural for his general views to make their way into the strip, Gray certainly took it to great extremes at time.

First off, it is important to note that Gray did extensive traveling across the United States researching story ideas for Little Orphan Annie. You see, the main structure of the strip was that Annie and Daddy Warbucks would be separated by some reason (various reasons over the years) and Annie would end up traveling to various spots of the country and having adventures (often they involved her jump-starting the economy of a small town just by her “get up and go” attitude) and then the pair would reunite (only to be separated again soon after).

Gray felt that this travel was integral to the strip (in fact, speaking of the first legend, years after the fact, Gray tried to give his own origin of how he came up with Little Orphan Annie, and it involved him talking to a young orphan girl – it is a dubious story at best). Well, during World War II, gas was rationed. Gray was already no fan of the federal government (as he viewed Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the enemy to basically all of his ideals of self-reliance for the American people), but when he requested and was denied extra gas ration coupons to effect his travel, he was furious. It was an Office of Price Administration clerk named Flack who turned Gray down, determining that Gray’s cartoons were not vital to the war effort.

Gray, a great supporter of the war (Annie formed a group called the Junior Commandos to help the rationing effort in the United States and it soon grew from the strip into a reality) and he was outraged that what he felt were his great patriotic efforts were being unrecognized. Gray asked for a hearing and he received one, but Flack’s decision stood.

Gray then took to his strip by starting a series of strips where he would berate a “fictional” character named “Fred Flask.”

Editorials piled in denouncing Gray and a couple of papers even dropped the strip. Flack threatened to sue over libel. Gray never apologized, but he did drop the series of strips.

COMIC LEGEND: Gray had Daddy Warbucks kill himself rather than to live through another Presidential term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

STATUS: False (but really, really close to True)

While he gave up on Flack, he never forgave Roosevelt.

My buddy Jeff Ryan has a new book out about the history of Nintendo. It is called Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America. You ought to buy it!

With that plug done, let me note that Jeff asked me the other day if the following legend was true:

Harold Gray, Little Orphan Annie creator and quite the conservative, had Daddy Warbucks kill himself rather than live in FDR’s America. He resurrected Warbucks only after FDR croaks…so does that mean he’s a zombie now?

Not quite, Jeff! But bizarrely very, very, very close to the truth!

In a series of strips in 1944, upon Roosevelt receiving the nomination for his historic FOURTH term as President, Gray began a series of strips where Warbucks was slowly dying of a mysterious disease. The disease, clearly, was that of the country itself. The current generation was killing the hero of capitalism, Warbucks…

Gray dragged the death out for some time, with many strips similar to the above.

However, as you all know, Roosevelt died early in 1945. Well, what do you know, Warbucks turned out to have faked his death!!

And then, Gray went even further by explaining how happy Warbucks was about a certain change in the “climate.”

How twisted is that?

As an aside, though, Jeff, amusingly enough, Daddy Warbucks actually WAS killed earlier in the strip and brought back to life! You see, during the 1930s, Gray began to become interested in mysticism and worked a bunch of stories involving magic into the strip. In 1935 and 1937, Warbucks acquired two assistants named Punjab and The Asp (1935 for Punjab and 1937 for The Asp). Both had mystical powers and came from India and “the Orient,” respectively. In 1937, Gray also introduced the powerful magical being Mr. Am. Here is Am with Annie…

In a 1937 series of strips, Warbucks and the Asp are killed by bad guys, but Mr. Am brings them back to life! So yes, I guess Warbucks was already a bit of a zombie before that darned FDR killed him!

Thanks to Jeff for the question and thanks to Stuart Liss and his brilliant Little Orphan Annie website for the strip scans throughout the piece!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

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Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

67 Comments

Several years ago, my wife was in the musical Annie and I swear I could always hear Gray spinning in his grave when Annie and Warbucks sang “We’ll Get a New Deal for Christmas” with FDR. It’s funny that the president he despised would go on to be a key character in the show that’s kept his character alive in pop culture.

Yeah, my wife got a kick out of that yesterday, as well, when I told her today’s legends.

Yeah, this is one of my big problems with the Annie movie, where Daddy Warbucks is making nice with FDR and they are getting along swimmingly.

While I don’t think Gray expressed his politics constructively in the least, and that gloating over FDR’s death was especially in bad taste and disgusting, if someone is going to adapt Gray’s work they should not go so far in the opposite of his ideology either.

Those FDR strips were effed-up.

His “ideology” was bananas. It deserves to be trounced. Whatever your political stripe, hating Roosevelt as he was saving the nation was insane.

And describing the writer as a “libertarian” is silly…there was no such thing back then,

On another topic…

“My buddy Jeff Ryan has a new book out about the history of Nintendo. It is called Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America.”

Can anyone read this without instantly thinking of that wonderful theme music? Doot, doot, doot, do-doot do-doot… Conquered America indeed. :-)

His “ideology” was bananas. It deserves to be trounced. Whatever your political stripe, hating Roosevelt as he was saving the nation was insane.

The ideology wasn’t insane, nor was disagreeing with Roosevelt. The popular legend has it that FDR saved the country with his New Deal policies, but many economists actually feel that the Depression would have been shorter and FDR actually prolonged the depression through is policies, and that it was the war that ended up taking us out of the Depression.

The most recent book summarizing this view is called “FDR’s Folly.” A summary of anti-FDR viewpoints past and present can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Franklin_D._Roosevelt

I’m not saying the viewpoint is 100% right or wrong, but I just want to point out if so many respected historians and economists past and present who are much more savvy about this stuff than I could ever hope to be can disagree on this issue, I think it’s silly to think the legend of FDR’s role in saving the American economy is unquestionably airtight.

And describing the writer as a “libertarian” is silly…there was no such thing back then

Just because the modern usage of the term wasn’t coined yet doesn’t mean people who believed in what libertarians believe in didn’t exist back then.

Was “Mr. Am’s” first name “I”?

I’m sure we’ve discussed this before T, but I thought Warbucks’ politics was true to Gray in the movie version of Annie. (OK, the Broadway musical, not so much with “A New Deal for Christmas”) The movie version Warbucks is pretty antagonistic toward FDR and refuses to join in Annie and FDR’s rendition of “Tomorrow” until forced to by the President. I certainly had no trouble when I saw it at the age of 12 getting the idea that Warbucks didn’t like Roosevelt, and when I read about Gray and Little Orphan Annie a year or so later I was able to connect the dots.

Graeme,

To me even Warbucks begrudgingly making nice with FDR is a stretch given how rabidly anti-Roosevelt Gray was. I mean this is a man who literally depicted a Warbucks who would prefer being dead to living under Roosevelt. Yet if I recall correctly, the two come to an agreement about the New Deal. Even if Warbucks disliked him and only did it begrudgingly out of necessity, I think it’s still too much.

But even if you allow that, that wasn’t my biggest problem. I may not be remembering right since I was young when I saw it, but I recall the implication of the movie being that Annie was the inspiration for the New Deal, or at least an emblematic symbol of it.

Like I said, I haven’t seen it in a while so I may be misremembering.

@James: And yet, history repeats itself with the Teabaggers…

@James: And yet, history repeats itself with the Teabaggers…

And it repeated itself with liberals during the giant recession while Ronald Reagan was in office. And with liberals during the War on Terror with George Bush, going as far as a multimillion propaganda documentary called Fahrenheit 9/11. But no, it’s only the one party that ever does things wrong I suppose.

Grow up.

Both sides, the left AND the right, are notorious for bashing the person in power during a time of national crisis rather than pulling together and promoting unity. And both sides, of course, claim that when the OTHER guy does it its because of selfishness and stupidity, but when THEY do it, it’s because of self-flattering reasons like they’re pursing a righteous moral cause and are valiantly “speaking truth to power.”

Now can we discuss political history without resorting to this overly simplistic “valiant good guys” and “conniving villains” worldview of politics? Politics is like pro wrestling. They put on a good show of hating each other and talking trash for their respective fanbases, but once the cameras stop rolling they’re a bunch of pals with far more in common with each other than with the rest of us watching at home getting all personally invested.

Heh. Teabaggers.

You have a small typo in the third legend. One of the dates from the ’30s you give as 1947 before referring to it as 1937 everyother time.

Does Waldo from Where’s Waldo show up in Monitor’s satellite on CoIE?

Thanks, Derek, I fixed the typo!

Oh well, I tried; no saving ths comment thread from turning into re-enactment of arguments over the New Deal (One would think that we were getting enough of this in congress, lately, but apparently not.)

Next week let’s re-fight the Civil War. Or even better, the English Civil War! I’ll take Roundheads, who wants to be a Cavalier?

Thank you for those posts, T.

Brian: I have one about Daddy Warbucks and Punjab, but is an SPOILER! Well, who care? In the great The Shadow Strikes! that magnificent commie comic-book writen by Gerard Jones, The Shadow reveals to the followers of Shiwan Khan who is the “real” boss behind him. Is Daddy Warbucks (assisted by Punjab), who play like a metaphore of capitalism. Indeed some another comic strip characters appeared in that arc (Terry Lee and Pat Ryan, Captain Easy, Wash Tubbs and Popeye).
Most interesting yet, the principal allie of The Shadow in that history is Mao Zedong. The Shadow Strikes! Best. Comic. Ever.
Anyway, you’ll find Daddy and Punjab in The Shadow Strikes! #27.

I find it a touch ironic that for this comment in the second legend

“One of the main tenets of Gray’s strip was the idea of self-reliance. Therefore, while many have written about how Gray would use his strip to express his political views (he was quite conservative and libertarian), it is worth noting that his political philosophies were integral to the very set-up of the strip, so it was not like it was not unnatural.”

Gray wasn’t really all that self-reliant on his own. From the first legend,

“Gray, naturally, wanted to have his own strip (as, well, who wouldn’t?) and he would develop a number of ideas and go over them with Smith. Smith, to his credit, was quite helpful to his assistant in the development of Gray’s ideas. Whenever Gray would come up with an idea that Smith liked, Gray would pitch it to Patterson.”

followed by this a few sentences later,

“Once Gray delivered his drawings of young Otto (at this point, Gray apparently began to refer to him specifically as “Little Orphan Otto), complete with cute curls, Patterson opined, “The kid looks like a pansy to me. Put a skirt on him and we’ll call it ‘Little Orphan Annie’””

Yep, nothing like having a philosophy of “self-reliance” then talking over ideas with your bosses, and even changing your character’s gender to suit your boss’s preferences.

This makes me a lot more interested in Little Orphan Annie than i could have ever imagined!

Also, those who use sexual slang for a movement of American people can follow Maxine Waters advice! Have a good trip!

Self-reliance doesn’t preclude collaboration or working for someone else.

It’s been implied over the years that Mr.AM is in fact GOD.

In the Bible, When asked his name, God said “I AM”

interesting to finaly see the legend of annie creators having warbucks kill himself over fdr fourth term only to later survive. proving that gray did not shy away from using his strip for his poltical views including his dislike of fdr being so much gray was willing to whack one of his leads. only to have him come back after fdr kicked it talk about messed up .

Bicycle-Repairman

September 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm

T.: “And it repeated itself with liberals during the giant recession while Ronald Reagan was in office. And with liberals during the War on Terror with George Bush, going as far as a multimillion propaganda documentary called Fahrenheit 9/11. But no, it’s only the one party that ever does things wrong I suppose.

Grow up.”

The Bush Administration engaged in torture, warrantless wiretapping, holding people indefinitely without charges, and operating secret prisons. They started a war based on false pretenses that resulted in the deaths of thousands and cost over a trillion dollars. You’re the one who has to grow up if you think there’s no difference between that and the government rationing gas during wartime or instituting programs during a recession.

Hrm. The whole ideology-of-character-as-first-written aspect makes me think of the shift in the Vic Sage Question under Charlton to shortly after Crisis at DC. I was always curious about how the Ditko-style, Ayn-Rand Question would have gotten along in the combined DCU, but we never really got that. However interesting the post-Crisis Zen/etc. Question may have been, he was never really the same character. (We even only got a few issues, mainly in a Blue Beetle story, showing him in the classic suit costume.)

I must say that Gray’s ideology DID affect the character’s popularity OUTSIDE the US. Pretty much all other famous strips of that vintage were popular all over the world, while Annie is only known by specialists. Even in the heaven for comics that is France…

But, of course, the entire world is wrong, only the US are right!

my mother used to torture my siblings and i with that lil orphan annie poem every halloween.

Not 24 hours before this story ran I read the Warbucks legend, and emailed Brian. THE VERY NEXT DAY he had a published answer for me!

SERVICE! SPEED! EFFICIENCY!

I hereby nominate Brian Cronin to head up the United States Postal Service.

@Wraith —

Roundheads? Cavaliers? Feh. If I can’t be a Ranter or a Digger, I’m taking my toys & going home.

I knew T. would be here quick to faithfully spout right wing ideology and pseudo history on a comic book website. Thanks for the consistency, dude.

The War on Terror’s human rights violations pale in comparison to FDR’s imprisoning Asians en masse.

Comic Books have always been a liberal medium–Hero’s bending over backwards to protect the poor, children, aliens ( the green ‘Stranger In a Strange Land’ kind). Supes, Spidey, and Silver Surfer agonizing over ‘doing the right thing’. In the 70’S we had O’Neil, Claremont, Starlin, Englehart, McGregor, and Gerber’s take on ‘liberal issues’. Speaking of Gerber, I recently reread his Marvel Presents Guardians of the Galaxy and enjoyed #4’s ‘ Into the Maw of Madness’. Three issues later in the letter column a reader, in reference to “Maw”, said it was a “dreary, downbeat and incredibly pompous indictment of our culture as a lunatic asylum w/ the patients running the show”.
And he was “sick of Steve Gerber and his pessimistic propagandizing, his specious analogies, and his overinflated fulminations. I want him off this strip immediately”. He liked Milgrom’s artwork “in spite of the rotten story matter Gerber forces down his throat”. Guess what? Roger Stern took over for the final 5 issues. BTW this reader didn’t like how Steve handled Daredevil, Sub-Mariner,Morbius, and Man Thing. He also deemed Howard the Duck and Omega “derivative, absurd, and unreadable”.
I guess i always figured that ‘Love It or Leave It ” types didn’t read comic books.
On a final note, Fahrenheit 9/11 may have had it’s flaws but so does FOX News.

Ha! That third legend’s fantastic! Eff FDR!

I knew T. would be here quick to faithfully spout right wing ideology and pseudo history on a comic book website. Thanks for the consistency, dude.

And I knew there’d be someone to come along and blatantly show a hypocritical double standard by specifically honing in on my comments yet conveniently ignoring the left-wing rhetoric I was responding to. Good job Ross.

Yikes. Looking at the history of the strip on Wikipedia (I know, I know, it’s not the most authoritative source in the world), it sounds even worse than what you describe here…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Orphan_Annie

… “Annie is kidnapped by a gangster called Mister Mack. Warbucks rescues her and takes Mack and his gang into custody. He then contacts a local senator who owes him a favor. Warbucks persuades the politician to use his influence with the judge and make sure that the trial goes their way and that Mack and his men get their just deserts. Annie questions the use of such methods but concludes, “With all th’ crooks usin’ pull an’ money to get off, I guess ’bout th’ only way to get ‘em punished is for honest police like Daddy to use pull an’ money an’ gun-men, too, an’ beat them at their own game.”

“Warbucks became much more ruthless in later years. After catching yet another gang of Annie kidnappers he announced that he “wouldn’t think of troubling the police with you boys”, implying that while he and Annie celebrated their reunion, the Asp and his men took the kidnappers away to be lynched. … ”

Gray did include a black character in the strip, but when criticized about this by a Southern newspaper, “Gray made it clear he was not a reformer, did not believe in breaking down the color line, and was no relation to Eleanor Roosevelt, an ardent supporter of civil rights.”

He opposed child labor laws:

“A little work never hurt any kid,” Gray affirmed, “One of the reasons we have so much juvenile delinquency is that kids are forced by law to loaf around on street corners and get into trouble.”

Yay. :/ It’s sad to find out this kind of thing, and it makes me less eager to read Annie other than as a historical curiosity knowing how much of this messed-up worldview permeates it. “…Annie was working as a maid in a Mrs. Bleating-Hart’s home and suffering all sorts of torments from her mistress.” Subtle, Gray.

“so it was not like it was not unnatural” doesn’t not mean what you think it doesn’t.

The Bush Administration engaged in torture, warrantless wiretapping, holding people indefinitely without charges, and operating secret prisons. They started a war based on false pretenses that resulted in the deaths of thousands and cost over a trillion dollars. You’re the one who has to grow up if you think there’s no difference between that and the government rationing gas during wartime or instituting programs during a recession.

Yes, all FDR did when it came to impinging on civil liberties was government rationing of gas during wartime and instituting social programs. He never held people indefinitely without charges. Those Japanese-Americans people were actually taken to a nice, relaxing spa retreat. They weren’t being held in an internment camp. Let’s ignore that in 1936 he authorized J Edgar Hoover to investigate any suspected pro-fascists and communists. And let’s pay no attention to the Smith act. Also, google FDR and the sedition trial to see how he tried to shut down and trample on the rights of anyone who dared criticize his New Deal or war policies.

The fact that you think all FDR never infringed on civil liberties when he actually had an internment camp where people where held without due process speaks volumes. He was and still is notorious for ignoring the constitution. Google “FDR constitution” and read about things like his court-packing scheme also.

I’m not writing this to cheerlead and claim “Oh, conservatives rule, liberals drool” or anything like that. My point is that this type of one-sided “Everything my side ever did was good while your side has a monopoly on evil” rhetoric is an immature and an unrealistic worldview. My point is that too many of you only spend your time researching why the other side is evil but when it comes to your own icons you investigate nothing and just accept the legends handed to you unquestioningly.

Conservatives have violated civil liberties in wartime. Liberals have violated civil liberties in wartime. Conservatives held people with no due process when convenient. Liberals have held people with no due process when convenient. Conservatives have been corrupt. Liberals have been corrupt. Neither side has a monopoly on either good acts or evil ones. At the end of the day the differences are pretty overstated.

Also, my criticism isn’t solely directed at liberals. There are lots of conservatives out there with a Pollyannaish unrealistic view of their own icons, looking at them with blinders while looking at the other side under a microscope. It’s annoying and unproductive from either camp.

Bicycle-Repairman

September 9, 2011 at 6:30 pm

@T.

Harold Gray wasn’t criticizing FDR for the internment of the Japanese, though, and most supporters of the Tea Party movement aren’t criticizing Obama for continuing Bush-era national security policies. Gray endorsed extralegal justice in “Little Orphan Annie” and hated FDR for his economic and labor policies.

A conservative/libertarian? Ugh. At least he wasn’t a racist.

I actually get annoyed at both sides. My own take is that economics is devilishly complex and people who subscribe to extreme and simplistic views will often try to rewrite history according to their own bias. In the Right you get the believers in the Church of the Free Market, in the Left you get Marxists. Since the former believes the Free Market is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then it becomes necessary to rewrite history so that FDR was actually the one that prolongued the Great Depression, instead of ending it, because you know, government-sponsored economic plan NEVER work EVER, because they are EVIL.

The Left isn’t much better, particularly if you live outside the US. Free Market capitalism is healthy in many, many situations too. In my country, phone services (provided completely by the government) were very crappy until the 1990s, only the very rich had telephones, you had waiting lists of YEARS to get a phone. When they got private companies and competition in the late-1990s, BOOM, every house had a phone installed. But the Left here conveniently forgets that, because it doesn’t fit in their narrative that private megacorps are EVIL.

For me, aesthetics usually trump politics. Many of Gray’s beliefs are repugnant, but he was one of the greatest cartoonists of the 30s and 40s. To anyone who has yet to read his stuff, I strongly recommend the brilliant Mr Am sequence from 1937.

Sure, H. P. Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler had some absolutely awful beliefs that shine through in their writing, but it’s still fascinating writing.

But I confess that it’s easier for me when they’re dead. I have to grapple a lot more with my disdain for Mel Gibson’s views, because the man is still breathing and I’d hate for people to think I’m on his camp or something. But I still watched (and enjoyed) the movies he directed.

I disagree with T’s political philosophy more often than not, but to try to claim that he just spouts “right wing ideology and pseudo history” is pretty off base. His comment are almost always fairly and civilly written. And he brings up interesting points of view, whether you agree with them or not. I personally believe Bush Jr. was the worst president in history, and FDR was probably in the top 10, but to pretend that FDR didn’t make some mistakes or pull some questionable stuff is ridiculous. As T said, both sides do it, and politicians have more in common with other politicians than they do with any of us.

Here, here T. You make excellent points but don’t expect civil discourse on the internets. People are rarely aware of their biases and hypocrisy. I heard a good example today on the Freakonomics podcast. Economists have done research that show that “green” people are more likely to buy a Prius than a hybrid Camry because the hybrid Camry doesn’t look like a hybrid car; just a normal Camry. Better yet people buying solar panels were more likely to place the cells facing the street where they could be seen by their neighbors even when it placed the cells in a shadier part of the house.

I think the Annie movie was the only close to the original every time I have seen adaptions of the original broad way version they leave out Punjab and the asp but then the movie had Annie looking for her parents Annie never actually cared about them or even tried to look for them .

I agree with Syon, Grey is readable despite his views being in wild contrast to mine. In contrast to the insipid blandness of, say, Mallard Fillmore.

A continuing problem of today is the inability to view those on the other side of an issue as equals. It doesn’t get ratings when people are nice and so people become more harsh in their disagreements. While I may not agree with T’s political views, I will agree that it isn’t only one side that’s out of touch with reality. I’m so sick of extremists taking over the forum…

Man, over GAS RATIONS?

Would have loved to seem him react to $4 a gallon.

Apparently it wasn’t gas rationing per se as much as he, personally being inconvenienced.

Leaving plitics out of it, I never became a Harold Gray fan because I could never get past…those eyes. It’s irrational on my part, but they put the whole thing straight into the uncanny valley for me. I have always liked Gray’s writing, however. Like Chester Gould at his peak, Gray does solid gag work and has a witty sensibility and (unlike Gould) a gift for naturalistic dialogue even when he’s being political or melodramatic.

The dialogue in that “I’m dying” strip, for example, is quite well-written even if the buried sentiment seems disagreeable or distasteful to you. The “climate” return strip, on the other hand, isn’t as good: it really doesn’t work except as an obvious political allegory. When Gould was on his hobbyhorses about Miranda rights and magnetic space travel in the 1950s and 1960s, he lost a lot of his scripting mojo as well.

Left or right, almost no one can simultaneously do interesting character work or successful gags and devote entire strips to thinly-veiled political diatribesy. Gary Trudeau and Aaron McGruder also get rather tiresome when their strips devolve into characters lecturing readers. Those later Boondocks strips which are nothing but Huey talking to the TV or to the cardboard cutout versions of other characters are pretty dull even if you agree with McGruder’s sentiments. Like Annie in the “climate” strip above, one character monologues while everyone else stays silent or asks leading questions to move the lecture along.

I agree with Syon, Grey is readable despite his views being in wild contrast to mine. In contrast to the insipid blandness of, say, Mallard Fillmore.

I don’t think I know anyone — liberal or conservative — who likes that strip all that much. Tinsley’s just not much of a writer; and, unlike the more character-based Doonesbury, Fillmore doesn’t have much to work with beyond its politics. It helps Doonesbury immensely that Trudeau’s strip started as a character-based comedy for his college paper and then became a political vehicle.

I agree, that Mallard Fillmore guy is awful. He doesn’t even tell jokes most of the time, he just gives a snarky political commentary. It’s preaching to the converted at its worst.

51 comments… and no-one’s picked up on this yet?

“Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and twenty-thirty.”

We all thought this was the 351st installment.

been so many years since I read annie, forgotten all about punjab and “the asp”.
pretty cool characters as I remember them (late 60’s to mid 70’s).
thanks for reminding me of them.

@Rene says: “In my country, phone services (provided completely by the government) were very crappy until the 1990s, only the very rich had telephones, you had waiting lists of YEARS to get a phone. When they got private companies and competition in the late-1990s, BOOM, every house had a phone installed. But the Left here conveniently forgets that, because it doesn’t fit in their narrative that private megacorps are EVIL.”

Rene, it’s not always a simple either/or case of government versus free market — in the USA, AT&T / Bell Telephone was allowed to run a government-regulated monopoly for decades. Bell was forced to break up in 1984.

On the upside, the govt. deal had allowed the creation of a consistent nationwide communications infrastructure that was then used by the “Baby Bells” and upstart telecomm competitors — one that reached out into rural areas and other hard-to-get places that might have been undesirable/unprofitable to serve, but which were demanded by the govt. regulators. (I wonder if the private companies in your country also benefited from an infrastructure dependent on the legal muscle and finances of the govt.)

On the downside, govt. investigators determined that the Bell monopoly was a disservice to customers, since it discouraged innovation and allowed for pricing structures that were out-of-wack with actual costs.

That being said, I have several friends who say they wish AT&T had never broken up: Consistent, dependeable service and a lot less trouble trying to figure out bills and plans and contracts.

I am legitimately confused that people here actually hate FDR. I am similarly confused that people LIKE FDR. How old are you people that you care one way or the other? Seriously, I don’t understand what’s happening here. Do you all have strong opinions on Grover Cleveland as well? What about Andrew Jackson?

Mainly, I think, because of what FDR actually accomplished back in the day. Many of the programs he put in place are with us to this day, including but not limited to Social Security and the National Labor Relations Board. One’s age is irrelevant. (For that matter, one can also have strong opinions or feelings about other historical figures based on what they did and thought, but I think the feelings are more powerful when their legacy continues to one’s own time.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Deal#New_Deal_Programs

Indeed, I’d especially check out this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass–Steagall_Act

Some people argue that its repeal in 1999 was precisely what led to the current economic collapse we’re having right now. So these issues, and how people feel about FDR, are definitely current matters we’re all dealing with.

I am legitimately confused that people here actually hate FDR.

I’m rereading the thread, and I’m pretty sure I don’t see anyone here hating FDR. I’m not sure if you’re referring to me but I don’t hate FDR. My point was that these people who have this one-sided positive and almost saintlike view of FDR and think only an irrational crackpot could ever find any fault with him are mistaken. All I was saying is that there were plenty of legitimate bases for a person to reasonably critique FDR, even if you disagree with them at the end of the day. I was simply taking issue with the black-and-white “Democrats are totally good and Republicans are totally bad” worldview on human nature that I was seeing in some comments, that seemed about as nuanced a take on morality as your average DC Silver Age comic.

“Also, those who use sexual slang for a movement of American people”

Well actually it was the tea partiers themselves who first used the term “teabagger” to identify themselves. As in “I’m a teabagger” “I’m teabagging for jesus” etc. Apparently those who did, may not have been aware of the sexual slang. Their detracters meerly took the ball and ran with it, but it’s kind of hard to complain about people calling you a name you gave yourself. “Hi, I’m a *” “Hey *” “How dare you call me that, do you know how insulting it is?”

[…] Legends Revealed! (comicbookresources.com) var addthis_pub = ''; var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more'; pp_flashembed( 'powerpress_player_4941', {src: 'http://deconstructingcomics.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/FlowPlayerClassic.swf', width: 320, height: 24, wmode: 'transparent' }, {config: { autoPlay: false, autoBuffering: false, initialScale: 'scale', showFullScreenButton: false, showMenu: false, videoFile: 'http://media.libsyn.com/media/stingpin/110926.mp3', loop: false, autoRewind: true } } ); […]

Brigette Cook Jones

December 20, 2011 at 7:02 am

I found this site very interesting! I am currently researching the Little Orphan Annie character, and the life of the woman who inspired the James Whitcomb Riley poem. I have a couple of questions – see if anyone can answer: In several websites and other sources I have found it stated that Gray was inspired by Riley’s poem, and a “picture that has hung in a Philadelphia gallery for years.”. Does anybody know about this mysterious picture? Would also like to know if Gray was influenced by the 1918 Silent Film, Little Orphan Annie, which starred Colleen Moore and was produced by Selig Polyscope pictures of Chicago? This movie script folllows Riley’s story of Annie, but adds an orphanage and a wealthy family in the picture. These are elements that Gray incorporates into his storyline. I have a Facebook page Orphan Annies Author. Any info would be greatly appreciated!

[…] going on adventures, while “Daddy” would be doing stuff like faking his death because f*** you, FDR! You and your New Deal are the death of […]

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