Chicago Spanking Review

Little Annie Fanny Gets Her Fanny Spanked

little annie fanny gets spanked

Little Annie Fanny's fanny on fire. Art by Will Elder & Harvey Kurtzman. © Playboy. Posted by the Web-Ed on 08/27/2010.

As we mentioned elsewhere, Hugh Hefner was a good friend to cartoonists, publishing a lot of their work in Playboy. And of all the work in visual media that Hefner published, Little Annie Fanny was the most elaborate and expensive by far. Written and laid out by Kurtzman, it was then fully painted by Elder, his long-time parter since their days together on MAD. No comic strip had ever been produced that way before, but then, no comic strip had been printed on slick paper before, either.

The title was obviously a take-off on Little Orphan Annie, and was the type of thing you'd have expected from the early MAD (which began as a Kurtzman-edited four-color comic book for EC, eventually outliving the rest of the EC line as a B & W magazine) but this was an ongoing strip and not a one-time parody.

Here Kurtzman's targets are the superficially-hip "swingers", as they were known. Believing themselves to be morally superior because they don't have the hang-ups of mainstream society, they reveal themselves to be as inhibited and judgmental as anyone (passing moral judgments is not a bad thing in our view, by the way, but to them, it was). Kurtzman uses the woman's reaction to Annie's spanking to make this point: "Bare hands ... no class! An elegant, whippy birch rod - that's class!"

little annie fanny gets spanked

The complete page. Art by Will Elder & Harvey Kurtzman. © Playboy.

DRD first alerted us to the fact there was a spanking in Little Annie Fanny. We have a number of old issues of Playboy (we didn't read the articles - honest!), but hadn't seen this installment before. The truth is that despite our great respect for Kurtzman and Elder, we never really liked this strip. It's not that we found it sexist or anything like that, but we think Kurtzman's reputation as a satirist is wildly inflated. Kurtzman was actually a master of the comics form itself, rather than a master satirist. Anything he did in the comics medium was bound to be at least somewhat interesting, and his and Elder's early MAD was a milestone in American humor, often imitated and still remembered today over fifty years after it first appeared, but his satire was always somewhat obvious and heavy-handed. We think his best work was actually on EC's war books (see an example page below). The satire in Al Capp's Li'l Abner was generally harder-hitting than anything in either MAD or Little Annie Fanny.

If you want an example of period satire that is understated rather than heavy-handed, take a look at Revolutionary Road (the book, not the movie). Yates's satirical target in his novel is not quite the same as Kurtzman's is here, but it is similar - smug, self-satisfied young adults who believe themselves to be far superior to what they see as the conformist society of 1950's America. I am certainly in the minority among intellectuals in my opinion that America in the 1950's was a damn good place to live, and may be giving Yates more credit than he's really due because there are some indications that he subscribed to his main characters' viewpoint, but the novel itself really cuts them to pieces with its subtle irony.

page from war comic two-fisted tales

© William M. Gaines

Human life - and death - from Two-Fisted Tales #23 (September-October 1951). No satire here, just excellent storytelling. Story and Art by Harvey Kurtzman.

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