This is Foggy Ruins of TIme, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of Seinfeld will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).
Today, based on a suggestion by reader Don G., we take a look at a super twisted plotline from the old “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip that I examined years ago in Comic Book Legends Revealed that only makes sense when you understand the context of the story and what it is referencing.
You see, Harold Gray, the creator of “Little Orphan Annie” who continued to write and draw the strip, became more and more conservative during the 1930s. And he hated President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Hated him. He would often use the strips to criticize the President.
However, when Roosevelt had received the nomination for his historic fourth term as President in 1944, Gray had had enough. He began a series of strips where Warbucks was slowly dying of a mysterious disease. The disease, clearly, was that of the country itself. The current generation was killing the hero of capitalism, Warbucks…
Gray dragged the death out for some time, with many strips similar to the above. Finally, he died.
However, as you all know, Roosevelt himself then died early in 1945. Well, what do you know, Warbucks turned out to have faked his death!!
And then, Gray went even further by explaining how happy Warbucks was about a certain change in the “climate.”
How twisted is that? And it’s done in such a way that I suspect that a modern reader reading those stories now would have little idea as to what Gray was talking about.
Thanks for the suggestion, Don! If anyone else has any other suggestions for obscure pop culture (or historical) references in old comic books, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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