And after all, bands and gangs have always been more than a little alike: both provide a sense of belonging, a way to re-imagine yourself through other people, somewhere you can be yourself by being something bigger than yourself. When a year-old Paul McCartney, reeling from the death of his mother, approached John Lennon about joining the latter's skiffle outfit, it's safe to imagine that's what he was after. The rest, as they say, is history. The Ghetto Brothers never became the Beatles, but they made a record that's one of the best stories of its era, one that's finally getting the circulation it always deserved and whose peculiar legacy still rings out forty years after its birth.
Present at that legendary Bronx Boys Club summit was a year-old member of the Black Spades named Kevin Donovan; impressed by the Ghetto Brothers' philosophy of gangland peace he began to re-imagine the possibilities of Bronx street culture, changed his name to Afrika Bambaataa and founded the Universal Zulu Nation. And the rest of that is history too. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Related Story. Whereas Annie's adventures up to the point of Punjab's appearance were realistic and believable, her adventures following his introduction touched upon the supernatural, the cosmic, and the fantastic.
Many, including Gray, saw this and other programs as government interference in private enterprise. Gray railed against Roosevelt and his programs. Gray even seemingly killed Daddy Warbucks off in , suggesting that Warbucks could not coexist in the world with FDR. Organized labor was feared by businessmen and Gray took their side. Some writers and editors took issue with this strip's criticisms of FDR's New Deal and s labor unionism.
The New Republic described Annie as " Hooverism in the Funnies", arguing that Gray's strip was defending utility company bosses then being investigated by the government. In the late s, the strip had taken on a more adult and adventurous feel with Annie encountering killers, gangsters, spies, and saboteurs. It was about this time that Gray, whose politics seem to have been broadly conservative and libertarian with a decided populist streak, introduced some of his more controversial storylines. He would look into the darker aspects of human nature, such as greed and treachery.
The gap between rich and poor was an important theme. His hostility toward labor unions was dramatized in the story "Eonite". Other targets were the New Deal , communism , and corrupt businessmen. Gray was especially critical of the justice system, which he saw as not doing enough to deal with criminals. Thus, some of his storylines featured people taking the law into their own hands. This happened as early as in an adventure named "The Haunted House". Annie is kidnapped by a gangster called Mister Mack. Warbucks rescues her and takes Mack and his gang into custody. He then contacts a local senator who owes him a favor.
Warbucks persuades the politician to use his influence with the judge and make sure that the trial goes their way and that Mack and his men get their just deserts. Annie questions the use of such methods but concludes, "With all th' crooks usin' pull an' money to get off, I guess 'bout th' only way to get 'em punished is for honest police like Daddy to use pull an' money an' gun-men, too, an' beat them at their own game.
Warbucks became much more ruthless in later years. After catching yet another gang of Annie kidnappers he announced that he "wouldn't think of troubling the police with you boys", implying that while he and Annie celebrated their reunion, the Asp and his men took the kidnappers away to be lynched. In another Sunday strip, published during World War II , a war-profiteer expresses the hope that the conflict would last another 20 years. An outraged member of the public physically assaults the man for his opinion, claiming revenge for his two sons who have already been killed in the fighting.
When a passing policeman is about to intervene, Annie talks him out of it, suggesting, "It's better some times to let folks settle some questions by what you might call democratic processes. As war clouds gathered, both the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News advocated neutrality; "Daddy" Warbucks, however, was gleefully manufacturing tanks, planes, and munitions.
Journalist James Edward Vlamos deplored the loss of fantasy, innocence, and humor in the "funnies", and took to task one of Gray's sequences about espionage, noting that the "fate of the nation" rested on "Annie's frail shoulders". Vlamos advised readers to "Stick to the saner world of war and horror on the front pages. When the US entered World War II , Annie not only played her part by blowing up a German submarine but organized and led groups of children called the Junior Commandos in the collection of newspapers, scrap metal, and other recyclable materials for the war effort.
Annie herself wore an armband emblazoned with "JC" and called herself "Colonel Annie". In real life, the idea caught on, and schools and parents were encouraged to organize similar groups. Twenty thousand Junior Commandos were reportedly registered in Boston. Gray was praised far and wide for his war effort brainchild. Harold Gray, Little Orphan Annie creator, has done one of the biggest jobs to date for the scrap drive. His 'Junior Commando' project, which he inaugurated some months ago, has caught on all around the country, and tons of scrap have been collected and contributed to the campaign.
The kids sell the scrap, and the proceeds are turned into stamps and bonds. Not all was rosy for Gray, however. He applied for extra gas coupons, reasoning that he would need them to drive about the countryside collecting plot material for the strip.
But an Office of Price Administration clerk named Flack refused to give Gray the coupons, explaining that cartoons were not vital to the war effort. Gray requested a hearing and the original decision was upheld. Gray was furious and vented in the strip, with especial venom directed at Flack, government price controls, and other concerns. Gray had his supporters, but Flack's neighbors defended him in the local newspaper and tongue-lashed Gray. Flack threatened to sue for libel, and some papers cancelled the strip. Gray showed no remorse, but did discontinue the sequence.
Gray was criticized by a Southern newspaper for including a black youngster among the white children in the Junior Commandos. Gray made it clear he was not a reformer, did not believe in breaking down the color line, and was no relation to Eleanor Roosevelt , an ardent supporter of civil rights.
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He pointed out that Annie was a friend to all, and that most cities in the North had "large dark towns". The inclusion of a black character in the Junior Commandos, he explained, was "merely a casual gesture toward a very large block of readers. In the summer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was nominated for a fourth term as President of the United States, and Gray who had little love for Roosevelt killed off Warbucks in a month-long sequence of sentimental pathos. Readers were generally unhappy with Gray's decision, but some liberals advocated the same fate for Annie and her "stale philosophy".
By the following November however, Annie was working as a maid in a Mrs. Bleating-Hart's home and suffering all sorts of torments from her mistress. The public begged Gray to have mercy on Annie, and he had her framed for her mistress's murder. She was exonerated. Following Roosevelt's death in April , Gray resurrected Warbucks who was only playing dead to thwart his enemies and once again the billionaire began expounding the joys of capitalism. In the post-war years, Annie took on The Bomb, communism, teenage rebellion and a host of other social and political concerns, often provoking the enmity of clergymen, union leaders and others.
For example, Gray believed children should be allowed to work. A London newspaper columnist thought some of Gray's sequences a threat to world peace, but a Detroit newspaper supported Gray on his "shoot first, ask questions later" foreign policy. Gray was criticized for the gruesome violence in the strips, particularly a sequence in which Annie and Sandy were run over by a car.
Gray responded to the criticism by giving Annie a year-long bout with amnesia that allowed her to trip through several adventures without Daddy.
In , a sequence about juvenile delinquency, drug addiction, switchblades, prostitutes, crooked cops, and the ties between teens and adult gangsters unleashed a firestorm of criticism from unions, the clergy and intellectuals with 30 newspapers cancelling the strip. The syndicate ordered Gray to drop the sequence and develop another adventure.
Gray died in May of cancer, and the strip was continued under other cartoonists. Gray's cousin and assistant Robert Leffingwell was the first on the job but proved inadequate and the strip was handed over to Tribune staff artist Henry Arnold and general manager Henry Raduta as the search continued for a permanent replacement. Tex Blaisdell , an experienced comics artist, got the job with Elliot Caplin as writer.
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Caplin avoided political themes and concentrated instead on character stories. The two worked together six years on the strip, but subscriptions fell off and both left at the end of The strip was passed to others and during this time complaints were registered regarding Annie's appearance, her conservative politics, and her lack of spunk.
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Early in , David Lettick took the strip, but his Annie was drawn in an entirely different and more "cartoonish" style, leading to reader complaints, and he left after only three months. In April , the decision was made to reprint Gray's classic strips, beginning in Subscriptions increased. Following the success of the Broadway musical Annie , the strip was resurrected on December 9, as Annie , written and drawn by Leonard Starr.
Starr's last strip ran on February 20, , and the strip went into reprints again for several months. However, Maeder's new stories never managed to live up to the pathos and emotional engagement of the stories by Gray and Starr. Annie herself was often reduced to a supporting role and was a far less complex character than the girl readers had known for seven decades. Maeder's writing style tended to make the stories feel like tongue-in-cheek adventures compared to the serious, heartfelt tales Gray and Starr favored.
Annie gradually lost subscribers during the s, and by , it was running in fewer than 20 U. On May 13, , Tribune Media Services announced that the strip's final installment would appear on Sunday, June 13, , ending after 86 years. The final cartoonist, Ted Slampyak , said, "It's kind of painful. It's almost like mourning the loss of a friend. The last strip was the culmination of a story arc where Annie was kidnapped from her hotel by a wanted war criminal from eastern Europe who checked in under a phony name with a fake passport.
Although Warbucks enlists the help of the FBI and Interpol to find her, by the end of the final strip he has begun to resign himself to the very strong possibility that Annie most likely will not be found alive. Unfortunately, Warbucks is unaware that Annie is still alive and has made her way to Guatemala with her captor, known simply as the "Butcher of the Balkans". Although Annie wants to be let go, the Butcher tells her that he neither will let her go nor kill her—for fear of being captured and because he will not kill a child despite his many political killings—and adds that she has a new life now with him.
The final panel of the strip reads "And this is where we leave our Annie. For Now—". In , the team behind Dick Tracy began a story line that would permanently resolve the fate of Annie. The week of June 10, , featured several Annie characters in extended cameos complete with dialogue, including Warbucks, the Asp and Punjab. After a chance meeting with Houdini, Victor is given a mysterious locked box.
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Similar losses bring a student and a teacher closer together. First love is at the heart of this novel in verse. Performance artist Weber offers a glimpse into the life of a teen. After partying too hard, a teenage TV star ends up in rehab. Cutting-edge technology saves Lia after an accident, but makes her an outcast. Two girls will stop at nothing to win a teen beauty pageant. Disgusted with boys, Jenny makes them pay with their lives. Two teens seem to be the only ones aware of a cult-like group's dark side. Blues Clues offers It's Valentine's Day! Wonder Pets! Dora the Explorer is back in Hooray for School!
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