In Remember to Forget, we spotlight comic book stories that I wish I could forget, but I can’t, so I instead share them with you all!
Reader Alan N. asked me to write about this one for Political World, but to be frank, it’s so lame that I think it is better here.
Albert Finney, who played Daddy Warbucks in Annie, the classic film adaptation of the Little Orphan Annie comic strip, passed away this week.
There is a scene in the film where Daddy Warbucks and Annie meets with Franklin Delano Roosevelt…
This scene would be very ironic for longtime fans of the original Annie comic strip by Harold Gray. You see, Harold Gray HATED FDR. I mean, HATED him.
One of the main tenets of Gray’s strip was the idea of self-reliance. Therefore, while many have written about how Gray would use his strip to express his political views (he was quite conservative and libertarian), it is worth noting that his political philosophies were integral to the very set-up of the strip, so it was not like it was not unnatural.
That said, while it was natural for his general views to make their way into the strip, Gray certainly took it to great extremes at time.
First off, it is important to note that Gray did extensive traveling across the United States researching story ideas for Little Orphan Annie. You see, the main structure of the strip was that Annie and Daddy Warbucks would be separated by some reason (various reasons over the years) and Annie would end up traveling to various spots of the country and having adventures (often they involved her jump-starting the economy of a small town just by her “get up and go” attitude) and then the pair would reunite (only to be separated again soon after).
Gray felt that this travel was integral to the strip (in fact, speaking of the first legend, years after the fact, Gray tried to give his own origin of how he came up with Little Orphan Annie, and it involved him talking to a young orphan girl – it is a dubious story at best). Well, during World War II, gas was rationed. Gray was already no fan of the federal government (as he viewed Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the enemy to basically all of his ideals of self-reliance for the American people), but when he requested and was denied extra gas ration coupons to effect his travel, he was furious. It was an Office of Price Administration clerk named Flack who turned Gray down, determining that Gray’s cartoons were not vital to the war effort.
Gray, a great supporter of the war (Annie formed a group called the Junior Commandos to help the rationing effort in the United States and it soon grew from the strip into a reality) and he was outraged that what he felt were his great patriotic efforts were being unrecognized. Gray asked for a hearing and he received one, but Flack’s decision stood.
Gray then took to his strip by starting a series of strips where he would berate a “fictional” character named “Fred Flask.”
Editorials piled in denouncing Gray and a couple of papers even dropped the strip. Flack threatened to sue over libel. Gray never apologized, but he did drop the series of strips.
That, though, is not nearly as bad as what came next!