Mary Jane & Sniffles

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Magical Mary Jane was a fictional Little Girl character published by Dell Comics from October 1941 to July 1961. Starting out as second-fiddle to Sniffles the Mouse (a minor Warner Brothers property), Mary Jane gradually began to edge her co-star out of the limelight until her Alice-like adventures dominated the strip. Although mostly lost to history in the present day, Mary Jane was actually one of the most popular female characters of the 1950s.

At the beginning, Sniffles was the star of the show while MJ was a sort of girl side-kick, evidently thrown in for readers to identify with. The decision turned out to be a winner, as Mary Jane soon grew extremely popluar with the comic's female audience. Initially drawn by Roger Armstrong, the series placed a strong emphasis on childlike fantasy, allowing the titular characters to visit various 'wonderlands,' encountering various fanciful creatures along the way.

By the start of the fifties, Mary Jane had won first billing and artistic chores had been handed over to veteran illustrator, Al Hubbard - a move no doubt prompted by the strip's increasing popularity. Under Hubbard's experienced hand, the artwork took on a solid, more conscientious look, losing much of its former 'big foot' appearance, yet somehow retaining the strip's innnate charm and innocence.

One of the series' main strengths lay in the element of wish fulfillment running through the storyline. Whenever Mary Jane wished to go on an adventure with her diminutive companion, she would sprinkle magic powder over her head and chant "Magic words of poof, poof piffles, make me just as small as Sniffles." This highly appealing 'Lewis Caroll' undertone was what set the strip apart from all of its contemporaries and made Mary Jane one of the most successful little girl characters during her heyday.

In later episodes, the magic powder was dropped from the storyline and Mary Jane would simply close her eyes and wish really hard (a ritual no doubt repeated by hopeful little girls all over the States during the 50s).

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