Most people know the story of Little Orphan Annie, and that she got her start in one of the most successful and longest running daily comic strips of all time. But they are generally unfamiliar with some of the other strips focusing on children that started around the same time but didn’t quite have Annie’s staying power. One of these is ‘The Adventures of Patsy,’ written and illustrated by Mel Graff, which dealt with a child star living in Hollywood. Personally, in terms of aesthetics, I much prefer Patsy’s big dark eyes and black wavy locks to Annie’s blank white circles and bushy orange lump of hair. Another interesting aspect of the Patsy strip was that it easily transitioned from flights of pure fantasy to solid realism, and back again. In fact, some scholars have argued that ‘The Adventures of Patsy’ featured comics’ very first masked superhero in the character of the Phantom Magician. Others argue it was actually Mandrake the Magician. Whatever the case, Patsy’s sweetness, charm and chutzpah deserves to win her a new generation of fans.
Note: there’s a strip missing between the sixth and seventh in this series, but it transitions pretty well without it.