It's the hard-knock life for <i>Little Orphan Annie</i> as syndicate cancels strip

After more than 85 years, the sun will no longer come out for Little Orphan Annie, Harold Gray's Depression Era comic about a red-haired waif and the kindly capitalist who gives her a home.

Although the strip, which debuted on Aug. 5, 1924 in the New York Daily News, once appeared in hundreds of newspapers, it now runs in fewer than 20. So Tribune Media Services has decided to cancel Annie with the June 13 installment -- a cliffhanger, curiously enough.

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal reports that Sunday strip will end with Daddy Warbucks uncertain of Annie's fate after her latest run-in with the Butcher of the Balkans.

"Annie is definitely not dying," Steve Tippie, TMS' vice president of licensing, tells Rosenthal. He says that while "the daily newspaper strip will go away [...] that doesn't mean that Annie won't come back … whether it's (in) comic books, graphic novels, in print, electronic. It's just too rich a vein (not) to mine."

Indeed, Little Orphan Annie inspired a long-running radio show, three motion pictures, a television movie, and a musical -- the basis for one of those films -- that ran for six years on Broadway and has since been staged countless times around the world.

IDW Publishing has released four volumes of The Complete Little Orphan Annie collection through its Library of American Comics imprint.

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