Little Orphan Annie: Goodbye, comics; Hello, Broadway
After 86 years in publication, Tribune Media Services announced the cancellation of the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip. On June 13, Sunday papers will showcase the last strip featuring America’s favorite redheaded orphan.
Harold Gray’s “Little Orphan Annie” was once published in hundreds of newspapers, but is now seen in fewer than twenty. The strip will end on a cliffhanger, with Daddy Warbucks wondering what happened to Annie during her latest encounter with the Butcher of the Balkans.
Steve Tippie, TMS’s vice president of licensing, said that while Ted Slampyak and Jay Maeder, the artist and writer of “Little Orphan Annie,” produced terrific story strips, there weren’t enough resources to keep the comic syndicated.
Annie has had a hard knock life, surviving the Great Depression, World War II, and countless adventures. Despite the comic strip’s cancellation, this is not the last we’ll see of Annie and her canine companion, Sandy. Tippie said that while it is very unlikely “Little Orphan Annie” will be revived in newspapers, “that doesn’t mean that Annie won’t come back … whether it’s [in] comic
books, graphic novels, in print, electronic. It’s just too rich a vein
[not] to mine.”
In fact, Annie will return to the limelight much sooner than some may have expected.
Producer Arielle Tepper Madover announced that she will bring the musical Annie back to Broadway in the fall of 2012. Madover said that Thomas Meehan, who wrote the book for the 1977 Annie musical, will update the script to accommodate modern audiences. In 1997, Annie returned to Broadway but was ill received, and failed. Though she didn’t give an explanation as to why the 1997 Annie failed, Madover believes her musical will succeed because Meehan and her creative team will modernize the show, and will more likely resonate with audiences.
The 1977 musical Annie, which lasted six years on Broadway and won a Tony Award for best musical, was based off Gray’s “Little Orphan Annie.” With the comic strip ending this week, it is encouraging to see that Gray’s redheaded legacy will continue to charm audiences for years to come.