Many of you sent us this link to the news that the Little Orphan Annie comic strip has been canceled. The strip, currently drawn by Ted Slampyak and written by Jay Maeder, will end on June 13th with a cliffhanger in which Annie’s fate is not known and Daddy Warbucks ponders anxiously over the future of big media in an uncertain landscape.
As the most prominent legacy strip to be canceled in quite a while, this is a shocker, although Annie was only carried in 20 papers so not really a shocker.
For the last couple of years we’ve been a guest lecturer at an SVA class, run by Dan Nadel, that teaches seniors “The Business of Comics.” When we first started talking to the kids, the class included a representative from a newspaper syndicate to explain how to get into the comic strip business. However of late, Dan tells us, the students have no interest in this outlet, and the class has been changed to focus on other avenues. College art students aren’t always the most savvy arbiters of business sense, but here they are right on the money — newspaper comic strips are going the way of the radio drama and the soap opera, long gone art forms. In the case of the glorious history of the newspaper strip – one of the great American art forms – we have Dean Mullaney and Craig Yoe and Rick Marschall and so on to give us the best of the past. as we quietly move on to reading webcomics on our iPads.
Tribune Media Services tells us that Annie will still be around as a licensed character and of that we have no doubt. We also have no doubt that young girls will continue to gather en masse to squall the songs from Annie in class plays, much to the dismay of parents around the world.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.