Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Little Annie Rooney: Les editions etrangeres


How popular is Little Annie Rooney?  Not very.  She's usually dismissed as an imitation of LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE.  They're both little orphan girls named Annie, and each has a dog -- but those similarities are superficial.  They're very different characters.  Annie Rooney's fate is written in the stars.  She tries to make the best of whatever life throws at her as she drifts from town to town, charming folks with her pleasant disposition.  Orphan Annie rolls up her sleeves and carves her own destiny, punching bullies in the face as she struggles to survive (that is, when she's not enjoying the comforts of a millionaire's home).

Annie Rooney can't get a break.  Little Orphan Annie is the one who says "Leapin' lizards!"; "Gloryoski!" (with a "y") is Annie Rooney's exclamation.  Ken Ranaldi, whose agency was responsible for this 1983 ad, admitted that he knew nothing about comic strips.  "We all thought 'Rooney' was [Little Orphan Annie's] last name."

Darrell McClure's dailies and Sundays, as well as Nicholas Afonsky's Sundays (1934-1943), contain some of the best art ever seen in comic strips.  Though not as harrowing and violent as her rival's strip, Annie Rooney's adventures are just as engaging and enchanting.  It's frustrating that, in her own country, no serious attempt has ever been made to collect her adventures.  In fact, there hasn't been any attempt at all.

One of the problems might be that people have been spoon-fed nothing but superheroes for decades now.  Who wants to read a story in which a little waif lends someone a hand in return for a decent meal when you can read about two superidiots tearing apart a few city blocks while pounding each other into the pavement with a bus.  Annie Rooney can't compete with such swell entertainment.

Annie gets the cover for LE COLLECTIONNEUR DE BANDES DESSINEES #21 (April 1980).

Perhaps it's not surprising that she isn't given fair treatment in the history books.  No one's read an Annie Rooney comic since 1966.  They don't remember what made the strip last for almost 40 years.

Publishers in other countries, however, were once keen on bringing Annie's adventures to the people, through weekly magazines containing both European and American strips (sometimes rewritten to appear domestic).  Some of these publications were of professional quality, others poorly printed, with off-register colours (if any; Sundays were often reproduced in black and white) and the cheapest newsprint available.

But the efforts were always sincere, and children were provided with a diversion from poverty and war, or something to read in the grass on a sunny day when times were good.

LA PETITE ANNIE Vol.1 (1984)

LA PETITE ANNIE Vol. 2 (1985)

It was the French who made the noblest effort to collect the adventures of La Petite Annie.  Between 1957 and 1960, SPE (Societe Parisienne d'Edition) published 11 softcover volumes, each one a complete adventure in 46 pages.  In the 1980s, Futuropolis released two hardcovers collecting Walsh and McClure strips from 1938 to 1940.

La Petite Annie #1 "La Roulotte de la Chance" (1957)

La Petite Annie #2 "La Vie d'Artiste" (1957)

a page from LA VIE D'ARTISTE (1957)

La Petite Annie #3 "La Maison du Bonheur" (1957)

La Petite Annie #4 "L'Aventure du Desert" (1958)

La Petite Annie #5 "Le Millionnaire a la Jambe de Bois" (1959)

La Petite Annie #6 "La Vengeance de l'homme Noir" (1959)

La Petite Annie #7 "La Pension des Mille Malheurs" (1959)

La Petite Annie #8 "La Route vers le Sud" (1959)

La Petite Annie #9 "Le Plus Beau Bateau du Monde" (1959)

La Petite Annie #10 "La Prison aux Barreaux Dores" (1959)

La Petite Annie #11 "Une Petite Fille dans la Vitrine" (1960)

"Les Plus Belles Histoires de la Petite Annie" (1958), collecting the first four albums of Societe Parisienne d'Edition's 11-volume Annie series.

But there had been other efforts.  Paul Winkler's Opera Mundi, a feature syndicate, brought Disney (and other American) comics to France, most notably in the tabloid LE JOURNAL DE MICKEY, first published October 21, 1934 (despite the cover date, it was actually released October 18).  MICKEY contained 8 pages of both colour and black and white comics, though the page count dropped to four after #361.  Annie was in the debut issue, under the title Les malheurs d'Annie, and her adventures, mostly Nicholas Afonsky's Sundays, were featured until #477 (July 2, 1944), at which point the magazine ceased publication, a victim of anti-American fascism.

LE JOURNAL DE MICKEY #1 (October 21, 1934), a Walt Disney/Opera Mundi publication.  Little Annie Rooney started a long run in this issue, under the title "Les malheurs d'Annie".  The copy shown here is a facsimile supplement to the 2500th issue of MICKEY Vol. 2.

LE JOURNAL DE MICKEY Album #3 (1937), collecting issues 105 to 156.  From the 3rd album on, the covers use the same illustration.

Publication resumed June 1, 1952 with a new JOURNAL DE MICKEY, this time published by Hachette in magazine format.  A 4-page test issue appeared earlier, in April.  The weekly contained 16 pages, 8 of which were in colour, the others tinted.  One page of each issue was devoted to Annie, who was featured until the late 1950s.  Hundreds of albums collecting the issues were released.  The popular magazine is still entertaining children today.

LE JOURNAL DE MICKEY Vol.2, #1 (June 1, 1952), published by Hachette.

La Petite Annie, from MICKEY #29

LISETTE, a 16-page weekly magazine for girls that began publishing July 17, 1921, ran a full page of La Petite Annie from May 14, 1933 to February 4, 1934, a total of 39 episodes.  Every half year a collection was issued.  The magazine, published by Petit Echo de la Mode, continued without Annie until March 15, 1942, and then resumed publication after the War in May 1946.

House ad heralding the arrival of La Petite Annie to the pages of LISETTE.  From #19 (May 7, 1933).

LISETTE #20 (May 14, 1933).  Actually, it's the 618th issue, but the 20th of the year.

Annie's debut in LISETTE #20 (May 14, 1933)

Annie's "fin" in LISETTE #5 (February 4, 1934)

La Petite Annie also appeared in JOHNNY, LE JOURNAL DE L'AGE D'OR, published by Serdim, which lasted only seven issues, from May 5, 1970 to August 1, 1970.  The first five issues were published weekly, and contained 24 pages each, but the sixth issue didn't hit the stands until July 1st, cut back to 8 pages.  The last issue increased the page count to 16.

Annie gets the cover in this, the last issue of JOHNNY, LE JOURNAL DE L'AGE D'OR (August 1, 1970).  Whoever did the illustration of Annie at the top is best left unknown.

In Belgium, Annie l'orpheline appeared in Dupuis' successful LE JOURNAL DE SPIROU from September 27, 1945 to August 29, 1947. The magazine's page count kept going up and down in the 1940s, anywhere between 8 and 20 pages.  There were some variations between the Belgian and French editions: in France, Annie Rooney and Brick Bradford were replaced with other strips after 1945.

Annie on the cover of SPIROU Album #16.  Albums 15, 16 and 17 collected material from 1945, and even though Annie wasn't in #16, by the time it was released her strip was featured in the magazine.  She appeared in albums 17 to 22 collecting issues from 1945 to 1947.

In Brussels, Rossel published LES NAUFRAGES DE L'ILE ROUGE (1974), a 46-page hardcover edition in colour, collecting strips by Walsh and McClure.

Beautiful painted cover for LES NAUFRAGES DE L'ILE ROUGE (1974).


back cover for LES NAUFRAGES DE L'ILE ROUGE (1974)

Annie enjoyed some popularity in the Netherlands.  In the late 1930s, SJORS, a comic featuring the Dutch version of the character Perry Winkle from the comic strip Wee Winnie Winkle, included Little Annie Rooney, here titled Kitty Muis en Haar Hond ("Kitty Mouse and Her Dog"), and other American strips, such as Prince Valiant and Little Mary Mixup.  SJORS was cancelled and revived several times over the decades, under different titles and new formats.

Dupuis began publishing ROBBEDOES, a Dutch-language edition of SPIROU, October 27, 1938.  Klein Annie, Het Dappere Weesje ("Little Annie, the Brave Orphan") ran in colour from 1945 to 1947.

Annie in the middle of the cover of ROBBEDOES Album #16.  These Dutch editions had covers identical to those of SPIROU, except for the numbering.

STRIP #1 (September 1961), a Dutch family magazine containing some comics.  18 x 25.5 cm, black and white.  This issue contains a Kleine Annie story, "De zwervende troubadours" (the travelling minstrels).

The South African newspaper, Die Vaderland, carried a supplement called DIE BRANDWAG starting February 6, 1937, and in August DIE BRANDWAG became an independent publication, which lasted until 1965.  Annie Rooney appeared under the title Klein Duifie de Wet.

Annie in the July 26, 1963 issue of DIE BRANDWAG, with redrawn art and a little tinting.  Whoever placed the Afrikaans text in the word balloons must have been drunk.

Annika and her dog Tipp appeared in the AFTONBLADET newspaper in the Livets lustiga latituder section, the first comics page in Sweden.

Lille Annie Rooney enjoyed a long run in KONG KYLIE, published by Aller Press in Denmark, which came out weekly from December 31, 1948 until its cancellation after September 30, 1955.  The title of the magazine took its name from the American strip, The Little King, and Otto Soglow's character appeared along the left side of the covers from the first issue until January 4, 1952.  Illustrated covers were replaced by photo covers from December 30, 1949 until January 5, 1951.  For half of its run, the magazine contained 16 pages, but the count increased to 32 pages from January 11, 1952, at which point two Annie strips began appearing in each issue.  In total, there were over 430 strips used.

KONG KYLIE also featured many other American strips: Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd); Tom Cooper (Roy Crane); Archie (Bob Montana); Steve Canyon (Milt Caniff); Dickie Dare (Fran Matera, later Coulton Waugh); The Phantom (Lee Falk and Ray Moore); Little Iodine (Jimmy Hatlo); Dick Tracy (Chester Gould); Superman (Siegel and Shuster); and Cynthia (Irv Novick).  Herge's Tintin was also present.

Annie cover for KONG KYLIE #18 (April 1952).  The numbering starts over with each new year.

Annie cover for KONG KYLIE #17 (April 1954)

Annie cover for KONG KYLIE #18 (April 1955)

Annie cover for KONG KYLIE #28 (July 1955)

Annie, as Annabella, appeared under the title La cintura di diamanti ("the diamond belt") in the Italian paper, L'AUDACE ("the bold"), published by Societa Anonima Editrice Vecchi.  At first, L'AUDACE contained British comics, but the unsuccessful magazine was revamped with issue #60 (February 23, 1935), now comprised of American strips, with much better printing.

La cintura di diamanti ran in L'AUDACE from February 23, 1935 until June 1, 1935 (issue #74), using Nicholas Afonsky's Sunday strips originally published June 6 to September 2, 1934. It was during that period that Ming Foo was introduced, before being spun off into a Sunday strip of his own, also by Walsh and Afonsky.  The last episode of La cintura was presented in black and white.

Annie was named "Annabella" in the pages of the Italian tabloid, L'AUDACE.

Annie (this time as "Susetta Runi") also graced the pages of I TRE PORCELLINI ("the three little pigs"), an 8-page tabloid published by MondadoriSusetta Runi first appeared in #49 (February 27, 1936) and continued until #98 (February 4, 1937), a total of 50 issues.  #93 was a 16-page issue, double the usual length, but still sold for the same price of 25 centesimi.  After issue #98, I TRE PORCELLINI merged with TOPOLINO ("Mickey Mouse") as TOPOLINO, GRANDI AVVENTURE #216 (February 11, 1937), now sporting 16 pages, 8 in colour, 8 in black and white.  (Previously, the individual magazines contained 8 pages.)  Unfortunately, Susetta wasn't invited to join this new publishing venture.

Nerbini made two attempts at collecting Annie strips under the name "Le avventure di Betta".  Both were published on July 15, 1939: LA FUGA DELLA PICCOLA EREDITIERA and IL TRIONFO DELLA VERITA.  A third book, L'AVVENTURA DI BETTA (1935) is too often identified as one of the series.  In fact, it's a collection of Les Forgrave's comic strip, Big Sister, which he drew from 1928 to 1954, before it was taken over by Bob Naylor until he retired in 1972.  Big Sister follows the adventures of Beth and her little brother, Buddy.  Annie Rooney's Italian name, La piccola Betta, and Beth's Italian name, Betta, are only part of the confusion.  Both strips are of a similar vintage, both characters had their dark hair cut in a bob, the Nerbini books had similar titles, and all had covers illustrated by Giove Toppi.

Above and below: Nerbini's Annie Rooney collections, issued simultaneously in 1939

A total of nine issues of Nerbini Editore's ALBI SMERALDO were published in 1947, and four of them (#s 1, 3, 5 and 7) were dedicated to La Piccola Betta.  All nine issues were subsequently bound into an album.

ALBI SMERALDO #1 (April 13, 1947)

ALBI SMERALDO #3 (May 11, 1947)

ALBI SMERALDO #5 (June 8, 1947)

ALBI SMERALDO #7 (July 13, 1947)

LA PICCOLA BETTA (April 1976), published by Comic Art (Italy).  Hardcover; 22 x 31.5 cm.  The pages aren't numbered, but there's about 260 of 'em.  Uses strips from August 31, 1932 to December 30, 1933, and from January 1 to December 31, 1938.

Annie appears on the cover of SGT. KIRK #18 (December 1968), a black and white Italian magazine.  She was called "Betta" in this issue.  SGT. KIRK was published infrequently from #1 (July 1967) to #30 (December 1969), and again from #31 (March 1973) to #58 (November/December 1978).

Las peripecias de Annie Rooney ("The Adventures of Annie Rooney") appeared in MICKEY, REVISTA INFANTIL ILUSTRADA, the Spanish edition of LE JOURNAL DE MICKEY.  The tabloid, which contained Disney and King Features material, lasted from March 9, 1935 to August 8, 1936, a total of 74 issues.  Annie wasn't in the first few.

Las Peripecias de Annie Rooney (by Nicholas Afonsky), from MICKEY, REVISTA INFANTIL ILUSTRADA, the Spanish edition of LE JOURNAL DE MICKEY.

Las Peripecias de Annie Rooney, from MICKEY, REVISTA INFANTIL ILUSTRADA.

She was known as "Pikku Anni" ("Little Annie") in the bi-weekly SARJAKUVALEHTI ("comic book"), published in Finland by Valiolehdet Oy.  The 24-page magazine reprinted American strips, in colour and in black and white, at 22 x 28 cm, but with #19 in 1957 they switched to tabloid size.

A page of Pikku Anni strips ran from #1 in 1949 until #16 in 1959, a total of 248 issues.  (As with most of the European weeklies already mentioned, the numbering started over with each new year.)  The magazine continued until #317 in 1963, but ran only two features, printed in black and white.

Pikku Anni begins a long association with SARJAKUVALEHTI with their first issue in 1949.

a Pikku Anni page from SARJAKUVALEHTI

SUURI SARJAKUVAKIRJA #2 (1985); published in Finland by Jalava; 151 pgs; black and white.  They reprinted 11 pages of Annie's Sunday strips, from October 23, 1949 to January 1, 1950.

WIOSENKA, a Polish weekly for girls published by Prasa Popularna, featured Ania Sierotka ("Annie the Orphan") and other strips including Little Miss Muffet, Betty Boop, Tillie the Toiler, Etta Kett, and Laurel and Hardy.  The 8-page tabloid ran from May 30, 1937 to August 27, 1939.  It was printed in black and white, with some colour, on cheap paper, and contained little information on the artists and writers and original dates of strips.

WIOSENKA #1 (May 30, 1937).  A few little Annie Rooney heads can be seen in the margins.

Ania Sierotka, from WIOSENKA

SWIAT PRZYGOD ("world of adventures") ran from October 24, 1935 to August 27, 1939, had an identical format to WIOSENKA, and also featured Ania Sierotka and other American strips.  The magazine resumed publication after the war as NOWY SWIAT PRZYGOD, but  Nowy ("new") was soon dropped from the title.

In Belgrade, Annie was published under the title Dozivljaji male Ane ("the adventures of little Annie") in PAJA PATAK ("Donald Duck"), beginning with the first issue, released October 2, 1938.  The 16-page Serbian-language magazine, which contained some original strips, was cancelled after #24 (January 18, 1939).  Dozivljaji male Ane also ran in a comic where Mickey Mouse was the main feature, MIKIJEVE NOVINE.  This 8-page comic was actually the 2nd series, which was resurrected in 1954 and perished again the same year.  Annie appeared in all 11 issues.

Annie (and good ol' Felix the Cat) on the cover of PAJA PATAK #21 (January 4, 1939)

Annie in Serbian

Dozivljaji male Ane also ran in POLITIKIN ZABAVNIK, the children's section of Politika newspaper.  The first issue of the 12-page section appeared February 28, 1939 and ran twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) until #220, April 4, 1941.  It was relaunched in 1952.

What's black and white and read all over?  POLITIKIN ZABAVNIK #1 (February 28, 1939).

In EL PLATO DONALD, Annie was published as La Pequena Anita.  The 28-page magazine used Darrell McClure's Sunday pages, but in black and white.  Anita started with the first issue, July 18, 1944, but didn't last too long.

La Pequena Anita, from EL PLATO DONALD

FLORITA was a Spanish comic published by Ediciones Cliper for young girls that ran from 1949 until 1959, then continued until 1961 by Hispano Americana de Ediciones.  Peripecias de Annie Rooney began with #331 in 1956 and ran in various issues until 1957.

FLORITA #331 (1956)

Peripecias de Annie Rooney, from FLORITA #331 (1956)

"Tebeo", the Spanish word for comic, was derived from TBO, a magazine first published in 1917.  The 1952 series of TBO introduced La pequena Annie in the January 8, 1965 issue, reprinting Little Annie Rooney Sundays from 1963 to 1965.  TBO's final Annie strip appeared in the May 6, 1966 issue.

TBO was reincarnated yet again (Ediciones B) in 1988.  Anita y sus amigos, and ran from issue #9 (October 1988) until #22 (November 1989), reprinting Sunday strips from March 18, 1951 to January 20, 1952.

La pequena Annie made her debut in TBO #376 (January 8, 1965)

PIF PAF, a comic published by Editorial Tor, devoted entire issues to single characters -- just about every comic strip that existed at the time.  These pirated issues were poorly printed on the cheapest of paper, in black and white, with colour (such as it was) on the covers.  PIF-PAF #96 (June 7, 1956) presented a 68-page story, "Llego el Circo", starring Anita y su perrito Cero ("Annie and her dog Zero"), by Darrell McClure. 

Anita and her dog Cero, in "Llego el Circo", from PIF-PAF #96 (June 7, 1956).

The quality of the printing in PIF-PAF isn't good, but Darrell McClure's amazing artwork makes up for it.

The back cover of PIF-PAF #96.  Everyone in this circus -- including Annie -- pushes their own weight.

Cheap newsprint, faded printing, poor colours, black and white Sundays.  It didn't matter.  What mattered is that someone made an effort to publish these comics.  And somewhere, for an hour at least, some kid was able to curl up in a chair and enjoy some exciting adventures!

(Read more about Annie here)