The Press: Moppet in Politics

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Little Orphan Annie is an ugly but likable little carrottop who in her 19-year comic-strip existence has adventured into and out of many a paper-&-ink jam. Last week she was in a real one. The Roosevelt loyalists of the Louisville Courier-Journal management tossed her bodily out of their paper. Angrily but regretfully they had concluded that popular Annie had been made into a vehicle of Republican propaganda.

Recently Annie arrived in Gooneyville to stay awhile with Spike Spangle, an old friend of her foster father, Daddy Warbucks. There she found that Fred Flask, village ration official, had taken away the Spangles' "A" book because they had used their car to make a 20-mile sick call.

ANNIE: "But that wasn't pleasure driving!"

SPANGLE: "Well, Fred Flask said (we) could have waited till the next afternoon and taken the bus."

Later, when Annie noticed a sporty car, she was told: "Oh, that's Mr. Flask. He's on official business, of course. He has to drive."

ANNIE: "I thought his car was a sedan."

MRS. SPANGLE: "Oh, the sedan belongs to Mrs. Flask. . . . Why, the Flasks have three (cars). Their son has to get to and from school ... 50 miles."

In subsequent strips Spangle, a retail storekeeper, has to bother with special price-ceiling inventories and Government questionnaires (in triplicate).

His suspicions roused by continuity like this, Courier-Journal Publisher Mark Ethridge peeked at advance Annie proofs, found his suspicion justified. Promptly he took Annie out of the Journal's roster of funnies.

Explained Publisher Ethridge: ". . . The turn taken by the Orphan Annie strip was representative of the Chicago Tribune policy. . . . (We do) not mind presenting opinions contrary to our own, (but) we have to insist that opinion of whatever kind be duly labeled as such and not smuggled into comic strips in the guise of entertainment."

The man who draws Little Orphan Annie is balding, cigar-smoking Harold Lincoln Gray. Despite the fact that the New Deal-hating Chicago Tribune has been hitting relentlessly at gas-ration "muddling," bureaucracy and Government interference with private enterprise, Artist Gray has been-repeatedly warned by the Tribune-News Syndicate to keep controversial issues out of his strips. He ignored the orders because 1) he is publicity-wise, knows the value of having his strip talked about; 2) he is an all-out, old-line conservative Republican himself; 3) he finds it difficult to keep Annie "in tune with the times" and simultaneously untouched "by the pressures of social and political changes."

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