TODAY’S FEATURED LINK:
Allan Holtz at his fantastic Stripper’s Guide blog posts a review of the recent Complete Little Orphan Annie Volume 1 published by IDW that has an interesting anecdote. Apparently, Mr. Holtz had pursued an Annie reprint project like this one previously and been extrememly frustrated finding copies of the early strips… it is horriffic how close we came to losing these classic strips forever. That’s right… the early episodes of one of the most well-known and longest running strips in the US almost disappeared. Now just imagine how the lesser known strips are faring! I wish this sort of thing was atypical, but it sure isn’t… as I have ranted here before (and will again, I’m sure), comics history is disappearing, and most of it will be lost without preservation efforts. Fantagraphics has had a lot of trouble finding some of the strips for their Complete Peanuts reprints, for pete’s sake!
Here is what Mr. Holtz says:
It may come as a surprise to those who aren’t devoted fans of Little Orphan Annie, but this is an extraordinary collection for the simple fact that the book begins with the very first sequence of the strip. So what? Well, when Little Orphan Annie began it appeared in only one paper in the world, the New York Daily News. That alone would make the early strips rare, but compounding that rarity is that the Daily News was considered a trashy tabloid and so it was never collected and bound by libraries. If there are no libraries collecting the papers, and then later disposing them, there are no opportunities for collectors to amass runs of the original tearsheets. The only known run of the first months of the strip is in the Daily News’ own microfilm copies, and that microfilm, which I’ve had the opportunity to review, is an almost unbelievable mess.
I had the idea of publishing the early Annie strips several years ago and I hit this brick wall myself. Faced with the impossibility of finding these strips in anything vaguely approaching reproducible form I waved the white flag and gave up. Luckily Dean Mullaney and company were not so easily dismayed. They had the bright idea of checking the Harold Gray papers at Boston University and it turned out that the archive included an unexpected treasure — an almost complete run of the strip right from the beginning. So, putting aside a wee bit of jealousy, I’m thrilled that finally we have the opportunity to read the saga of that little orphan gal right from the start, including the pivotal early days in the orphanage that have been unseen since they were published over 80 years ago.
I’ve been reading some of the Pacific Comics Club facimile reprints of some of the old Annie Books recently, and they are highly entertaining… I’m looking forward to getting a copy of this book. Click the above image to read the rest of Mr. Holtz’s thoughtful review.
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