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Choff, choff, choff.

If you are a "Little Lulu" fan, you know that the word "choff" represents the sound Lulu and her comic-strip pals make while eating.On the other hand, maybe you don't even know who Lulu is . . . even as she celebrates her 60th anniversary as a precocious, corkscrew-curled fifth-grader.

Long overdue for a comeback, Lulu is now being re-introduced by HBO. The first episode of "The Little Lulu Show" debuts Sunday at 8:30 p.m. MDT, with additional installments the next five Sundays.

During each half-hour, Lulu stars in three "Lulutoons," which bring the original comic strips to life - er, animation. This week, Lulu tries to make her bath more like the ocean by adding green ink, plays rainy-day tag with Tubby Tompkins, and gets a makeover from her mom after the boys call her ugly.

Not that she needs cosmetic help. Lulu hasn't aged a day since she was born in February 1935.

She has never lost a bit of her pluck. She was, and remains, an inspiring role model for tomorrow's women: A girl who more than holds her own with boys, adults and the rest of the world.

"She is resourceful, mischievous, courageous and independent," according to the late Marjorie Henderson Buell, who modeled Lulu after herself as a child, and became the first female cartoonist to create a female-centered strip that found widespread success.

Which it certainly did.

Besides her magazine work, Lulu starred in a series of animated cartoons in the 1940s, as well as comic books and a newspaper strip.

In 1944 she began a long association with Kleenex.

But nothing lasts forever, and Lulu must have known it. In a Mad magazine parody in the early 1960s, she was looking to the future: She said she planned to do ads modeling Playtex Living Bras.

It was not to be. Lulu remained 11 years old - too young even to model for Calvin Klein. Meanwhile, the Kleenex gig came to an end, and Lulu's other opportunities wiped out as well.

Then HBO stepped in with an attractive offer: Her own TV show. It would reunite her with Tubby, still sporting that sailor cap; buck-toothed Annie; whiny little Alvin, and the rest of the ageless crew.

And as a final inducement to bring Lulu out of retirement, Tracey Ullman agreed to supply her voice.

The results are charming and memory-bestirring for any adult whose own childhood included Lulu's.

But what are present-day youngsters to make of these storylines from decades ago, set in a white-bread burg where nuclear families reign, the sidewalks are safe, and people talk on dial telephones?

Hardly relevant to today's kids, huh?

On the contrary, Syracuse University historian John Harvith thinks "Little Lulu" is still cutting-edge.

"It's of its time," he concedes, "but it also has a certain timeless quality."