Archive | Little Orphan Annie

The Punjab Magic Whistle!

In the Little Orphan Annie strip of February 24 1935 (reprinted in Vol. 6 of our series) a mysterious giant wearing a turban appears and offers to help the little mophead chop wood. It’s the first time Annie meets Punjab. When she offhandedly comments how nice it was to receive his help Punjab gives her a magic whistle and tells her that any time she needs his help, all she has to do is blow it and he would immediately appear. She is frightened and apprehensive because she has no idea who he is, but takes the whistle nonetheless, and Punjab disappears. A few days later, on March 3rd, Annie wonders if the whistle would really bring Punjab to her aid and blows it. Poof! Punjab appears out of nowhere! Later that month at a key moment in the classic Eli Eon saga, she blows the whistle yet again. Same result.

Eighteen years later, in strips reprinted in LOA Vol. 16, Annie needs help saving the life of a friend. In the June 1, 1953 strip she unexpectedly finds the magic whistle in her pocket and blows it. Punjab appears again! When asked where he came from, Punjab simply stated, “When the little princess blows the magic whistle, I appear.”

During the height of LOA licensed merchandise in the 1930s one manufacturer produced Little Orphan Annie sweaters, including “Magic Punjab Whistles” as premium incentives for retailers ordering full boxes of sweaters. So far as is known the whistles were never offered as for-sale items. Further, because the whistles don’t bear any markings, today’s collectors are generally unaware of them. Only one sweater box complete with five whistles is known to exist, making the “Magic Punjab Whistle” an extremely rare collectible.

Thanks to our good friend Richard Olson for giving us the background and scanning his sweater box and whistles for all to see!

 

The August LOAC Wheel of Fortune: Just for Laughs

We continue journeying toward our two hundredth Library of American Comics release with the August spin of the LOAC Wheel of Fortune – but before we give it a whirl, these few (semi-) serious paragraphs on a humorous subgenre –

I noted with interest that we’ve devoted almost twenty-five percent of the total LOAC output to some of the funniest of the funnies – and well over that percentage if you consider “story strips” like The Gumps, Little Orphan Annie, Baron Bean, Bungle Family, and Gasoline Alley to be comedy first and narrative continuity second. (I’ve chosen not to do that, to keep the list of titles under consideration to a manageable amount.) From dailies like 1933’s Polly and Her Pals and Herriman’s Krazy Kats that were published the next year (both collected in LOAC Essentials volumes) to more contemporary series such as Bobby London’s run on Popeye in Thimble Theater, The Library of American Comics has reprinted the crème de la rib-tickling crème. That commitment will continue, as you’ll see in the soon-to-be-released Screwball! book that will have you *plop!*ping with laughter into the nearest comfy chair (at least, we hope that’s where you land — *plop!*ping down onto a hardwood floor can hurt!).

Some of the LOAC parade of comedy also boasts historical significance – think of Dagwood Bumstead’s hunger strike and his eventual wedding to Miss Boopadoop in Blondie, Volume 1 – and some of it has sprung from our agreement with Disney (as you’ve surely noticed, the first word in Silly Symphonies is, well – Silly), but those are extra benefits added to comics designed to provoke smiles, chuckles, and out-and-out guffaws as they brighten up your day.

We have so many humor collections in our backlist, we’ll split it in twain and do two funny-funnies spins of the ol’ LOAC Wheel of Fortune, one this month and the other later in autumn (we have something planned for the September spin that is specifically tied to that month, so stay tuned for that!). Here is our August list of contenders …

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Saluting History with a Mini-Fantasy Comics Page

We’re quickly closing in on the 50th anniversary of The Landing of the Eagle, as the Apollo 11 mission brought Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin safely to the surface of the Moon and back. Surely the media coverage of this golden anniversary is difficult to escape, and that’s as it should be — those of us who were alive to follow the voyage of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins (who remained in orbit, piloting the Command Module Columbia as his fellow astronauts trod the Lunar surface) remember it as one of those rare moments when much of the entire planet was united to celebrate an amazing accomplishment.

Being born in mid-July, I was nine years old when Apollo 11 blasted off for its date with destiny, but ten years old when Armstrong made his “one small step for a man.” Headlines across the country mirrored this one, from the Boston Globe, as Columbia roared skyward from Kennedy Space Center atop a Saturn V rocket on July 16, 1969:

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The LOAC Road to 200: Not Forgetting May for the Ol’ LOAC Wheel of Fortune!

Deadlines, family commitments, and some technical difficulties have delayed our May dip into the LOAC Wheel of Fortune, but it’s not like we forgot or anything, believe me!

Since May is the fifth month of the year,. we opted to look at all our releases to-date that have a “5” in their volume number — that encompasses “Volume 5s,” “Volume 15s,” and in the case of Dick Tracy, even a Volume 25! For the first time, if memory serves, we’re also including a pair of 2019 releases in a Wheel of Fortune population, since both Spider-Man and Donald Duck celebrated their fifth volumes (in Donald’s case, his fifth volume of dailies).

So here’s the population, eleven titles strong:

Looking at the list, I found a few surprises in it — I didn’t realize we finished the Al Williamson run on Corrigan before our seventy-fifth release, or that Bungle Family (which is still fresh in my mind, a testament to the quality of the strip) fell into our first hundred books. Anyway, here it is, loaded into the Wheel and ready for a big spin:

And this month’s featured title is <insert drum roll and dramatic pause here> …

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The “LOAC 2018 Year in Review” Sandwich: A Ten-Book Filling Between Two CANYONs

Early in each new year we look back at the prior twelve months in LOAC-Land. It provides our readers with a handy one-stop checklist of our most recent books — and it helps remind us of what we were up to all those months ago!

As we tallied 2018’s Library of American Comics output, we were surprised to see we had both begun and ended the year with a book of never-before-repeated Steve Canyon comics. We kicked off January, 2018 with the release of Volume 8 …

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LOAC Road to 200 #1-5

By the end of 2019, The Library of American Comics will have 200 books under its belt! If you have been following us on social media, we have started a retrospective of all 200 of our books, starting with our premiere effort—Terry and the Pirates, Vol. 1.  Every day or so, we will post a new image online, but we will also be collecting them here in small installments.

I could think of no better strip to launch the Library of American Comics than Milton Caniff’s masterpiece. Terry is the most influential strip in the history of the medium and, needless to say, my personal favorite. And to win the Eisner Award for our first release — it doesn’t really get any better than that! —Dean

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Six Decades of Christmas in the Comics

We could think of no better way to wish all our readers Happy Holidays than to share the Christmas offerings from a half-dozen strips, each representing a decade of newspaper comics.

 

Leading off, from the tag-end of 1939, our favorite of favorites, Terry and the Pirates, with this Yuletide entry from the story in which Pat, April, and Captain Blaze first meet Singh-Singh.

Representing the 1940s, from 1948, Little Orphan Annie spends yet another Christmas away from her beloved “Daddy.”

And the young married Yokums get the hint of bad news, as only Al Capp can deliver it, in this December 25th 1952 installment of Li’l Abner:

A run of Christmas strips wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Peanuts gang. Here’s everyone’s favorite beagle, in a wryly charming 1962 outing from Sparky Schulz:

Here’s a more acerbic take on the season from Johnny Hart in this 1973 B.C. daily:

And we close in the 1980s, with one of our more contemporary favorites: here’s Lynn Johnston, clucking up a storm in For Better or For Worse from Christmas Day, 1985:

And if these strips alone don’t put you in the holiday mood, we’ll close with this old favorite from postings past, brought back by popular demand:

Best wishes, one and all, ’til we meet again in 2019!

 

–Dean, Lorraine, Kurtis, and Bruce

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