In 1924, Harold Gray created
Little Orphan Annie for the Chicago Tribune. Gray's original
concept starred a boy named, Otto. (That's right, Little Orphan Otto!)
Thankfully, there were many strips featuring boys and none about a girl,
so Gray changed the protagonist's gender and name.
Comic strips in the 20's were very different from today's strips. Dailies were printed in a much larger format and often only one Sunday strip appeared on a newspaper page. Adventure strips ran stories for many months and sometimes for more than a year!
Little Orphan Annie was different; she met do-gooders, crooked politicians, gangsters, and fought the nazis. The strip had elements of the supernatural. There were ghosts, leprechauns, and Mr. Am, who has lived for "millions of years."
After months of fending for herself, traveling through the small towns of America, "Daddy" showed up for an adventure before disappearing again to allow Annie some adventures on her own.
Gray wrote and drew another strip at the same time as Little Orphan Annie, Little Joe.
Harold Gray died in 1968 and the comic strip limped along with poor art, poor writing, and reprints of Gray's strip until the Winter of 1979.
After the success of the Broadway play, Leonard Starr, the artist and writer of On Stage featuring Mary Perkins, revived the Little Orphan Annie comic strip under the title, Annie. View the 1st week of Annie: December 3, 1979.
For more information on the actresses who have starred in the Annie Broadway play, please visit Jon Merrill's web page.
Annie is as spunky as she was 79 years ago, but has aged quite well as one of the few adventure strips appearing in newspapers today.