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Because you've drunk your Ovaltine, it's time to check in on the batshit crazy world of Little Orphan Annie.


(From Annie! Click on the thumbnail for full sized confrontation of Satanism head on!)

Long time readers know how much I truly adore Annie -- a comic strip from the old days that's been continuously drawn and produced all these years, where she the orphan without pupils in her eyes fights the good fight against totally twisted adventures.

You'll remember that we left Annie off having fled the hospital where she was being treated for multiple head injuries (and having forgotten her experiences as the playthi-- er, junior partner of the deranged Phantom Commando) because she doesn't like social workers or cops, and having found three broken pay phones preventing her from contacting her billionaire Daddy Warbucks, finally hopped a freight train and disappeared from the scene. Which, as you'll recall, made the Sheriff impressed with her pluck, rather than worried a girl with head injuries who was the key to a triple murder investigation had skipped town. But we've forgotten all about the Phantom Commando now, and moved on to a new adventure.

It started with said freight train traveling for days and days, leaving the cold, hungry and thirsty Annie trapped with nowhere to go for food or water or, one assumes, number onesies. She did take time to mouth her catchphrase ("Tomorrow is just a day away, after all,") but otherwise, she just endured... until her boxcar got uncoupled from the train on a spur in the middle of a desert. Yes, she had been in mountains and forests before then. Now she's in a desert. Give her a break -- this is all just a delusion she's having while lying bleeding to death in the boxcar after all. Or it would be if I were writing it.

Which makes me take a break and mention the now legendary community theater production of Annie that lost the rights to perform when the publishing company discovered that the company had rewritten the ending to make Annie's life with Daddy Warbucks a dream, and she was waking up to a terrible nightmarish life in the Orphanage once more, screaming and sobbing as she realized it was all a fantasy and the reality was harsh and bleak. Weird, how the publishers took a dim view to that, but I digress.

Lost in the desert, Annie started walking. After a while, a helicopter found her. Rather than give her a ride, water or food (or a trip to a bathroom), they demanded she get off the property -- telling her there was a neighboring ranch 30 miles away. So, the starving, dehydrated, exhausted, skull-damaged girl trods 30 miles... to Broadcast Ranch!

Yes, Broadcast Ranch, where three guys dressed up the way they used to dress in children's Cowboy Movies in the 50's put on a daily radio show of Cowboy Music -- once a coast to coast broadcast, now down to one station and one sponsor. Things look bad for them, but they still take the plucky young girl in, feed and clothe her and are kind to her. And let her use a phone. Which is fortunate, because it means her multibillionaire adoptive father and her guardian Santiago learn she's alive and fly out, and give a whole new sponsor to the show (at the tune of $10,000 a week, because what does Warbucks care -- it's only money, after all!) And, when Annie starts singing on the show as "Rosie of the Range," the switchboards start lighting up! (No doubt with concerned parents saying "that cowboy show has a girl who sounds like she's suffered multiple head tramas, malnutrition and dehydration recently. Shouldn't someone look into this?")

The new success of Broadcast Ranch causes a problem for those neighbors, though. You see, they've been trying to drive the old cowboys out for a while so they can take over the ranch... for SATAN. That's right, it's noted Satanist Anson Vail, and he has some nefarious plot he intends to further with a talisman clearly buried somewhere on Broadcast Ranch. Well, Oliver Warbucks determines who Vail is and marches right over to confront him.

"Annie," one of the cowboys says, "Ain't yew the least worried 'bout yore daddy?" [sic]

"Nah," Annie replies. "Daddy's backed down the real devil once or twice -- some altar boy isn't going to bother him!"

So now Warbucks and Anson Vail meet... and from here, who knows what adventures will occur!

Okay.

First off, the fact that they're actually taking the time to parody Anton LaVey, of all people just tickles me.

Second off... this remains batshit crazy.

Third off... newspapers still print this. This is still syndicated.

Fourth off... what the fuck?

Thank you. We'll check in in just a few weeks, true believers. In the meantime, drink your Ovaltine -- it's got essential vitamins and minerals that Nesquik just can't compare to. Parents appreciate it, kids love it -- more Ovaltine please!

Also -- turn in all communists!

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Comments

Man oh man do I ever love this strip. Until Jason Shiga fulfils his dream of someday drawing "Mary Worth," this is my favorite newspaper continuity strip.

It reminds me of what happened to the comic-book version of "The Shadow" when Kyle Baker and Andy Hefler drew it in the 1980s. The comic had been running for ages, no one was paying any attention to it, so Baker and Hefler kept pushing the envelope. The fun finally ended when they did a storyline in which The Shadow died, had his corpse carted around for a while, and was ultimately resurrected as a killer cyborg. And they still would've gotten away with it if they hadn't put the cyborg Shadow on the cover.

I remember that! The best part, though, was when they were carting around the Shadow's immortal head (which had lost its body along the way) -- and I literally mean carting around. It was on a little dessert cart type thing -- through the art deco superscience city they were in, the Shadow was giving instructions... then suddenly paused, ordered them into a shop... and in the next panel is wheeled back out into the street... wearing an appropriate hat.

It was proof Baker and Hefler could do any batshit insane thing they liked... but they still understood just what made the Shadow the Shadow.

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