Things just keep getting better and better for fans of classic American comic strips. Little Orphan Annie has just been added to the list of strips that are being reprinted in volumes that will eventually cover the entire runs of these comics.
The first volume is available now. It includes the first few years of the strip, beautifully reproduced, mostly from Harold Gray's original drawings or from the syndication proofs. In them, the plucky Annie knocks about America spreading kindness or kicking ass, as the situation requires.
Here's a philosophical question for you. Why was it that American popular culture, back in the darkest days of patriarchy, kept coming up with images of powerful little girls, like Annie and Dorothy of Kansas, who set off on their own on dangerous journeys and triumphed over all adversities by force of character . . . while in our own nominally feminist age the most prominent role models for young girls are sexually objectified teen tartlets?
There are now four volumes out of the early Dick Tracy strips, seven or eight of Krazy Kat, three of Gasoline Alley and Terry and the Pirates, two books which contain complete runs of Winsor McCay's Little Sammy Sneeze and Dreams Of the Rarebit Fiend — plus two huge volumes which reprint color Sunday pages from Gasoline Alley and Little Nemo In Slumberland. If you pile them all up beside your bed or easy chair and read a few strips or pages a day, you've got your own personal funny pages to hand, some compensation for the fact that modern newspapers have no space for popular art this brilliant and this entertaining.