Racism in the Funny Pages, Episode 3,768

But everyone was racist back then...

Yes, that’s Little Orphan Annie in blackface. On the left is Pee Wee, her elephant pal from her adventures in the circus; Sandy on the right, of course; and just visible is the “native” hut where Annie lives from 26 November to 20 December 1935. That’s a panel from the Sunday strip on 1 December. Here’s two panels from the daily for 10 December:

Context: Annie is living on a film set. She thinks she’s merely an extra; unbeknownst to her, her every action is being filmed for a fictional film about the life of a jungle princess. The footage of her antics is “great stuff”, “going to make a corking picture”, “marvelous”, “a sensation”…and, indeed, once the film is released, it’s “a smash hit” and “a riot”, with audiences “going wild”. Once again, Annie reveals herself a showbiz natural — as well as her turn in the circus, she has already been a music hall sensation with her renditions of sentimental standards.

She adopts a stage name for the release of the film. That name?


But, you know, different times, everyone was racist back then, the strip also has some positive portrayals of non-whites, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, it’s okay because she has a good reason for donning blackface and calling herself Inkey. It’s so she can hide from hatchet-wielding Chinamen who want to murder her.

(detail from 16 September 1935)


Also, I’m fairly sure that that’s not what happens when you have unregulated monopoly pricing:

(detail from 15 June 1935)


UNRELATED POST-SCRIPT: This will be cryptic right now, but a propos something else entirely I predict that someone will accuse it of tending to political conservatism, pretty early on in the thread. Let’s say within ten comments (assuming it gets that far!).


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