3
   

Over a Century of comics

 
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 04:53 pm
Talk about a hard-knocks life: She has been jailed in North Korea, kidnapped repeatedly, accused of murder, trapped in a cave, roughed up by gangsters. And she's just a kid "" more precisely, a red-haired girl named Annie.

Over 86 years, the spunky (and forever young) orphan has endured hundreds of curly hair-raising adventures, not to mention homelessness, poverty and other Dickensian hardships. She's even survived the death of the man whose pen and imagination turned her into a comic-strip heroine.

Annie, the character, may be indomitable. But Annie, the comic strip, is not.

Facing a shifting media landscape "" the closing or shrinking of newspapers, a dwindling audience for comic adventures and an explosion of new forms of entertainment "" Tribune Media Services has determined there will be no more newspaper tomorrows for Annie.

After Sunday's strip, Annie, her father figure and frequent rescuer, Daddy Warbucks, and her beloved pooch, Sandy, will disappear from the funny pages. They will have a future, but for now, where that will be is unknown.

"Annie is not dying, she's moving into new channels," says Steve Tippie, vice president of licensing and new markets development at Tribune Media, which owns the license to the character. Annie, he says, has "huge awareness" and possibilities include graphic novels, film, TV, games "" maybe even a home on a mobile phone.

No matter where she lands, it's clear there's still gold in that red mop of hair and those white, pupil-less orbs. Tribune Media continues to collect revenues from various productions of "Annie," the sunny musical that charmed Broadway more than 30 years ago "" and is expected to return to the Great White Way in 2012.

"Annie is one of those iconic characters in American culture," Tippie says. "If you stop 10 people on the street, nine of them will drop down on one knee and start singing 'Tomorrow.'"

It was, in fact, the popularity of the musical that gave the strip a second life. Tribune Media revived the comic after the death of its creator, Harold Gray, who had used Annie as a megaphone for his conservative political views.

From its opposition to the New Deal in the '30s to its hard-line in the war on terror, the comic strip has never shied away from its beliefs.

"I always like to think of Annie as the Fox News Channel of the funny papers," says Jay Maeder, Annie's most recent writer. "It was a very political strip."

But even with timely story lines, public interest in newspaper comic adventures faded decades ago. Fewer than 20 newspapers ran the strip at the end "" which, by the way, leaves Annie's fate hanging as she remains in the clutches of a war criminal, the Butcher of the Balkans.

Still, Annie had one amazing run. And one of her creators thinks he knows why.

"The appeal of Annie is simply that she doesn't give up," says Ted Slampyak, the strip's artist for the last six years. "She always ends up in one scrape after another. She doesn't have a lot of resources but she has a lot of spirit, a lot of pluck. She's got a lot of fight in her."

"It always was good to open a newspaper and see a little girl who should be helpless but is out there, tough as nails, out to win the day," he adds. "Everyone finds that inspiring."

Being a girl "" and one who'd occasionally deck an enemy with a mean left hook "" also gave her a special cachet.

"She's sort of a female Huck Finn," says M. Thomas Inge, author of "Comics as Culture" and professor of humanities at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia. "The fact that she was surviving on her own made her attractive."

Annie was created by Gray, a farm boy from Kankakee, Ill., whose love of Dickens novels was reflected in his character's triumphs over greedy bankers and phony reformers with colorful names such as Phineas P. Pinchpenny and Mrs. Bleating Hart.

The comic strip debuted in 1924 when Americans still were watching silent movies, Prohibition was a reality and a home entertainment center meant a radio the size of an end table. Annie expanded to the airwaves during the '30s when families, looking for a respite from the Depression, tuned in to follow the exploits of a feisty girl who took guff from no one.

Annie quickly moved beyond newsprint and radio, blossoming into a multimedia star: Comic books, movies, a doll and board game in her name, celebrity endorser (Ovaltine, anyone?) with her own decoder ring, and later, her own U.S. postage stamp.

But her home base was the funnies.

Annie was one of the first comics to use long-running narratives, unlike the episodic single gags that dominated the funny pages at the time, says Jeet Heer, who has written introductions to five volumes of Annie comic collections and is planning a biography of Gray.

At its peak, Annie appeared in hundreds of newspapers. During the 1945 New York newspaper deliverymen's strike, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia didn't want to disappoint her young followers so he read Annie's adventures over the air (she was on trial for murder at the time).

Annie did undergo a modest makeover over the years:

The "Little Orphan" was dropped in the late '70s. And she finally traded her red dress with the white collar for sneakers and jeans. But Annie remained a plainspoken girl "" a favorite expression was "leapin' lizards!" "" who preferred the company of working stiffs to those who put on airs.

In Gray's (and Annie's) view, Heer says, the enemies were "officious social workers and government bureaucrats, snooty do-gooders and busybody political reformers ... know-it-all intellectuals and pointy-headed college professors."

One of the comic strip's recurring themes, he says, was the poor don't need the government to better themselves, just occasional help from a benevolent capitalist "" such as Daddy Warbucks.

Sound familiar?

"The 'don't expect government to do stuff for you' "" all the slogans on the Tea Party placards sound like they came off Little Orphan Annie," says Randy Duncan, professor of communication at Henderson State University and co-author of "The Power of Comics."

Annie's creator, Gray, actually started as a progressive Republican with a populist streak; he was sympathetic to immigrants and minorities, according to Heer. But by the 1930s, he became a fierce opponent of Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal policies.

When FDR was nominated to a fourth term, Gray killed off Daddy Warbucks; the bald magnate suggested that perhaps the climate was making him sick. After Roosevelt's death, Warbucks magically reappeared, puffing a cigar and saying the "climate here has changed."

In the 1940s and into the Cold War a decade later, Warbucks fought the Communist conspiracy, sometimes using his own mercenaries to go beyond what the government was willing to do, Heer says.

Whether it was the politics or the adventure, Annie developed a huge fan base.

It was a diverse group, including a teenage John Updike (he wrote a fan letter) and Henry Ford, who sent a telegram in the 1930s when Sandy, the dog, went missing. It said: "Please do all you can to help Annie find Sandy. STOP. We are all interested. Henry Ford."

Some politicians also took a shine to Annie, including Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator who came to the comic's defense after a paper in his state pulled the strip, accusing it of being "John Birch Society propaganda."

It was not the only criticism. Decades earlier, one magazine referred to Annie as "fascism in the funnies."

There were parodies, too, most famously the misadventures of Little Annie Fanny, a voluptuous young woman who got in trouble "" and often ended up naked. It first appeared in Playboy in the 1960s.

After Harold Gray's death, others continued the strip. Then, for a few years, newspapers ran classics "" reruns. When the musical came along, a new generation of fans was born. Interestingly enough, the show did not hew to Gray's ideology.

"That impossibly happy, chirpy little creature that little tweenage girls just loved ... that's certainly not the Annie I was chronicling," says Maeder. "I was writing for adults."

In the last decade, Annie story lines have included problems at the border, illegal immigration, even Guantanamo.

"Annie and Warbucks stand for law and order," Maeder says. "They're not politically correct people."

Warbucks ended up doing undercover CIA work that took him to fictionalized countries named Ratznestistan and Quagmiristan.

Annie, meanwhile, hooked up with a new character named Amelia Santiago, a daring Cuban-American aviatrix and CIA veteran. A few years ago, they were tossed into a North Korea prison.

"Annie got kidnapped more than any child on the planet," Maeder says.

And that, dear readers, is her predicament now.

She's been spirited away to Guatemala by her war-criminal captor. Warbucks is huddling with the FBI and Interpol but there aren't many clues.

Annie's captor says they're stuck with each other. Welcome to your new life, he says.

And there it ends.

Where and when will Annie resurface?

Stay tuned.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 05:17 pm
Quote:
It was, in fact, the popularity of the musical that gave the strip a second life. Tribune Media revived the comic after the death of its creator, Harold Gray, who had used Annie as a megaphone for his conservative political views.

From its opposition to the New Deal in the '30s to its hard-line in the war on terror, the comic strip has never shied away from its beliefs.

"I always like to think of Annie as the Fox News Channel of the funny papers," says Jay Maeder, Annie's most recent writer. "It was a very political strip."

I never liked Annie. When I started to read the newspaper in middle school and onward, I always found the storyline a tad annoying and irritating.

I wonder back then if I subliminally was allergic to its conservative overtones in which I didn't recognize when I saw the comic strip on rare occasion in the Boston Globe. I can't ever remember it ever running in the Middlesex News now called the MetroWest Daily News (the newspaper my family subscribed to).
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 05:19 pm
https://www.kenpiercebooks.com/images/loacomplete1.jpg
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 05:21 pm
@tsarstepan,
I loved Annie as a kid. I skipped the denser reading and concentrated on the melodramatic aspects. I had no idea she was a tea partier. Razz
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 08:01 am
@edgarblythe,
Never liked her. Creepy eyes and stories that qwere too convolutd for me. I think I just passed her by for Hi and Lois ,Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 08:05 am
@farmerman,
You didn't tune her in on radio and get your Annie Ovaltine mug?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 08:18 am
@edgarblythe,
It was a Goddam commercial . All I know about an Orphan ANnie radio show is from the Jean Shepherd movie "Christmas Story"
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 10:28 am
Well, those plastic cups kept many a kid from having pupils in their eyes.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 04:39 pm
MADISON, Wis. — Bam! Zap! Whammo! It's a battle royale between two of the toughest heavyweights in the superhero business. The fate of the world doesn't hang in the balance, but a lot of money probably does.

Sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman and former Spider-Man artist Todd McFarlane's attorneys have been sparring for years over Gaiman's claims to a handful of characters created for McFarlane's classic Spawn series, which features a murdered CIA agent who becomes a demon.

Now Gaiman insists McFarlane owes him for three more characters — a demon named Dark Ages Spawn and two avenging angels in thong bikinis. A federal judge in Madison has scheduled a Monday hearing to listen to both sides' arguments.

The long-running case underscores the tension among comic artists as they vie for rights to even minor characters in an industry that has grown more lucrative over the past 20 years through movies, graphic novels and international distribution.

Comic book sales totaled about $429 million last year, up from $360 million to $400 million in 1996, according to estimates by The Comics Chronicles, which compiles comic sales data. The Batman movie sequel "The Dark Knight" has grossed over $1 billion worldwide since it was released in 2008, according to Box Office Mojo.

Spawn isn't nearly as popular as Batman or Spider-Man, but the series has been fairly successful with action figures, an Emmy-winning HBO series and a 1997 movie that grossed $87 million worldwide. A sequel is in development, according to Image Comics' Web site.

Gaiman's attorneys said Gaiman plans to donate any money that comes out of the case to charity. The lawsuit for him is more about establishing clear guidelines for other comic book creators about their rights to characters, they said.

"Our view is McFarlane just took some of the characters Neil was a co-creator of and just gave them different names," said Gaiman's attorney, Allen Arntsen. "It's a matter of principle."

McFarlane's lead attorney, James Alex Grimsley, didn't return several messages seeking comment. In court filings, though, McFarlane's legal team denied Gaiman has any right to the three additional characters, arguing they're based on ideas from the Spawn universe, not other characters.

McFarlane created Spawn in 1992 for a startup comic book company, Image Comics. Gaiman and McFarlane collaborated on early Spawn stories. In 2002, Gaiman sued McFarlane in federal court, arguing he was a co-copyright owner of supporting characters Medieval Spawn, a demon similar to Spawn; Angela, a red-haired angel; and Cogliostro, a one-time Spawn ally.

A jury found in Gaiman's favor later that year. He and McFarlane have spent the past eight years figuring out how much money the three characters have generated and how much Gaiman deserves. A number has yet to emerge.

Gaiman filed a motion in March claiming the demon Dark Ages Spawn and two more angels, Tiffany and Domina, were derived from Medieval Spawn and Angela. They should be figured into the accounting, too, he argued.

Gaiman contends Medieval Spawn and Dark Ages Spawn both wear metal helmets, carry shields and help the defenseless. Tiffany, Domina and Angela, meanwhile, all have long hair and wear armored bras and thong bikinis.

"There's certainly historical examples of minor characters becoming major breadwinners," said Mark Zaid, founder and marketing director of the Comic Book Collecting Association. "Characters start off in a cameo and, to put a pun on it, spawn into something bigger. ... When you succeed, you can hit the lotto."

McFarlane's attorneys counter that while Dark Ages Spawn, Tiffany and Domina have "superficial qualities" similar to other characters, but they have unique personalities and express broad concepts in the Spawn story, including the ideas that demons walked the earth throughout time and God created an angel army to battle them.

Gaiman, who lives in northwestern Wisconsin near the Twin Cities, worked on the "Sandman" comic book series. His novels include "American Gods," "Coraline" and "The Graveyard Book," which won the John Newberry Medal.

McFarlane illustrated a number of big-time superheroes, including Batman and Spider-Man, before co-founding Image Comics. He also manufactures action figures and made headlines in 1999 when he paid $3 million for the baseball Mark McGuire hit for his then-record 70th home run in a season.

McFarlane told The Associated Press in a phone interview he thinks Gaiman is a "good man."

"We just sort of hit a crossroads in the piece of the puzzle in our relationship," he said, choosing his words carefully. "I don't begrudge anybody from taking a strong position if they think something isn't quite right. I try not to get overly worked up about it. Somebody smarter than all of us will tell us where this all will land."
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 11:55 am
New Wonder Woman costume
http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/100630/wonder-woman_131.jpg
Reyn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 12:56 pm
@edgarblythe,
Here's an old ad in comic form:

http://www.sparehed.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/squeekie-1951.jpg
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 02:30 pm
I recall Wildroot for men, but not this stuff.
Reyn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 02:58 pm
@edgarblythe,
Yes, me, too!

As a matter of fact, I can remember actually using that stuff for a while. Shocked Surprised
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 03:21 pm
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/06/30/arts/jp-wonder-2/jp-wonder-2-articleInline.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/06/30/arts/wonder/wonder-articleInline-v2.jpg
Makeover for Wonder Woman at 69
By GEORGE GENE GUSTINES
Published: June 29, 2010

Wednesday is a good day for Wonder Woman. This 69-year-old superheroine, published by DC Comics, will don a new — and less revealing — costume and enjoy the publication of Issue No. 600 of her monthly series.

The costume ties into an alternative history for the character devised by J. Michael Straczynski, the new writer of the series, and into a quest by DC to shine a critical and creative spotlight on the heroine, who stands with Superman and Batman in its primary triumvirate of superstars, despite her series’s modest sales.

In the reimagining of her story, Wonder Woman, instead of growing up on Paradise Island with her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and her Amazon sisters, is smuggled out as a baby when unknown forces destroy her home and slaughter its inhabitants.

Mr. Straczynski, who created the television show “Babylon 5” and wrote the screenplay for “Changeling” in 2008, starring Angelina Jolie, said in an e-mail message that he wanted to address “the wardrobe issue” as soon as he took the job.

“She’s been locked into pretty much the exact same outfit since her debut in 1941,” Mr. Straczynski wrote. “If you’re going to make a statement about bringing Wonder Woman into the 21st century, you need to be bold and you need to make it visual. I wanted to toughen her up, and give her a modern sensibility.”

He added, “What woman only wears only one outfit for 60-plus years?”

Given Wonder Woman’s pre-eminence as a female character in the largely male superhero pantheon, her looks have always been a matter of more than casual interest, to both fanboys and feminists. In a 2006 interview about her work on the series, the novelist Jodi Picoult said: “One of the first things I did was ask if we could give her breast-reduction surgery, because as a woman, I know you wouldn’t fight crime in a bustier. But I was somehow shot down by DC.”

The new costume was designed by the artist Jim Lee, who in February was named co-publisher of DC, alongside Dan DiDio. Given the assignment, “my first reaction was, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ” Mr. Lee said in an interview. But he welcomed the challenge: “When these characters become so branded that you can’t change things, they become ossified.”

The new look — with an understated “W” insignia, a midnight blue jacket and a flinty fusion of black tights and boots — is darker than the famed swimsuit-style outfit, and aims to be contemporary, functional and, as Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” might say, less costumey.

Given the hope that the character will one day have her own international film franchise (a feature has long been gestating at Warner Entertainment, DC’s parent company), one test of the design was to imagine how it would look standing next to, say, Batman’s politically neutral ensemble. “The original costume was the American flag brought to life,” Mr. Lee said. “This one is a little more universal.”

Mr. Lee has drawn his share of sexy superheroines (the X-Men’s Rogue among them), some in skimpy costume, and knows what many fans will ask: “Why am I covering up her legs?” Ultimately, he wanted her to look strong “without screaming, ‘I’m a superhero.’ ”

The arrival of Issue 600 is a bit of comic-book sleight of hand, or, as DC calls it, a return to historical numbering. Wonder Woman’s first self-titled series, which begin in 1942, ended with No. 329. The character was then overhauled, her previous continuity erased, and she starred in Volume 2 as a heroine new to the world. That incarnation lasted 226 issues. Another new direction spurred a third volume (and, to collectors who care about such things, another Issue No. 1) that ran for 44 issues. Do the math, and what would have been Issue No. 45 is now Volume 1, No. 600.

The new costume will almost certainly be better received than the curveball thrown Wonder Woman in 1968, when she lost her powers, dressed mod and practiced martial arts. It took the attention of no less than Gloria Steinem to protest the change, and to help get the Amazon back into her star-spangled duds. Ms. Steinem went on to use Wonder Woman, resplendent in red, white and blue, on the cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine in 1972. A cover line proclaimed, “Wonder Woman for President.”

That’s the kind of attention Mr. Straczynski thinks she deserves: “Wonder Woman is a strong, dynamic, vibrant character who should be selling in the top 20, and I’m going to do all I can to get her there.”
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 12:16 pm
http://www.crumbproducts.com/files/blues_9-6-10_1a.jpg
R Crumb
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 21 Jul, 2010 04:19 pm
http://whoknew.news.yahoo.com/?vid=20972839
Comic Con in San Diego
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2010 12:47 am
http://www.questionablecontent.net/comics/1720.png
http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1720
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Aug, 2010 04:36 am
http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2010/08/24/129404016/saturday-is-read-comics-in-public-day-come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are?sc=fb&cc=fp
Saturday is read comics in public day. Not sure by what decree. But here is the link.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Sep, 2010 12:14 pm
NEW YORK — Comic book fans will soon be getting their first glimpse at an unlikely new superhero — a Muslim boy in a wheelchair with superpowers.

The new superhero is the brainchild of a group of disabled young Americans and Syrians who were brought together last month in Damascus by the Open Hands Intiative, a non-profit organization founded by U.S. philanthropist and businessman Jay T. Snyder.

The superhero's appearance hasn't been finalized, but an early sketch shows a Muslim boy who lost his legs in a landmine accident and later becomes the Silver Scorpion after discovering he has the power to control metal with his mind.

Sharad Devarajan, co-founder and CEO of Liquid Comics whose company is now turning the young people's ideas into pictures and a story line, said the goal is to release the first comic book — launching the disabled Muslim superhero — in early November in both Arabic and English.

Snyder says he was inspired by President Barack Obama's effort to reach out to the Muslim world in his January 2009 inaugural address. Last month, Snyder flew 12 disabled Americans to Damascus to meet their Syrian peers, and one of their main goals was to come up with ideas and story lines for the new superhero.

"The only limit was the imagination these kids had — the opportunity for a great story," said Snyder, a comic book collector who heads HBJ Investments LLC. "They helped create something by their combined talents, and that becomes a gift to the world."

Devarajan found the young people's imagination to be quite amazing.

"The opening question we asked the kids was if you could have any superpower what would it be? I've asked that question in many different groups before and the typical answers are always the ones you'd expect — flying, reading minds, or being super strong," Devarajan said.

"The fascinating thing about this group was that I don't think I heard any one of those three," he said.

"Each of their ideas was so originally distinct, whether the Syrian kids or the U.S. kids," he said, adding that perhaps because of their disabilities, the young people think as individuals without being influenced by outsiders. One girl, for example, wanted to have the power to combine the energy of the moon and the sun.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Dec, 2010 01:14 pm
Read the other day that Brenda Starr is about to be discontinued. I actually thought it ended several years ago.
0 Replies
 
 

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