Little Annie Fanny
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Though the name and some of the elements (title design and recurring characters) are obvious nods to Little Orphan Annie, the attitude is anything but. Annie may never have made it through a single story without disrobing, but her nudity was a "cover" for what else was going on. Humor was often riotous--as one would expect from former Mad artist like Kurtzman--but there was usually a satiric "point" to what was going on with the only-apparently vapid Annie. Like most everything in Playboy Annie may have been sexy, but she was "smart sexy"--even when she seemed the most exploited character in the strip.
Typically, stories of a "comic adventure", usually involving a touch of espionage or intrigue, would prevail. As the villains of the piece moved to exploit her sexually, she would reveal her intelligence, or her ability to "distract" them. Along the way, a heavy helping of political or other satire was served up. Indeed, many of her early adventures weren't reprinted for years not for reasons of overt sexuality, but because of their pre-assassination criticism of JFK.
Though her creators died in the 90s, and new adventures didn't start appearing again until 1998, the impact of the original 1962-1988 Playboy run is sometimes overlooked by collectors who avoid Playboy for its frank exploration of sexuality.
Little Annie Fanny was the first continuing comic strip in any American magazine and the first fully painted comic series. Every panel ever printed in Playboy was hand-painted. It may have been the first comic to regularly be printed on glossy paper, as well. She was certainly the only comic book character to always be printed on glossy paper.
Contentually, her legacy continues to be felt in titles like Danger Girls and characters like Power Girl. She is a continuation of historical archetypes like Ally Sloper and even Obadiah Oldbuck. She just happens to look a whole better naked. Playboy's Little Annie Fanny (2000)
After a long hiatus, the character began irregularly appearing in the pages of Playboy in 1998, under a new artistic team. While the original Playboy Press trades are rare finds in the 21st century, Dark Horse entered into a co-publishing arrangement with Playboy, and is the usual place one looks today for Annie reprints. Indeed, the entire Kurtzman/Elder run is available through Dark Horse.
First Appearance: Playboy (1955) #196210
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