Santa's Surprise (Famous Studios, 1947)
St. John Publications
Little Audrey is a fictional character, appearing in a number of theatrical cartoons from 1947 to 1959. She is considered a variation of the better-known Little Lulu, although similarities between the two characters are largely superficial. Audrey was adopted into comic form as early as 1948, first by St. John Publications, then by Harvey Comics in 1952. During the early fifties, the character was merchandised in various forms, including year books, hand puppets, sheet music, news strips and children's clothing, suggesting that in her heyday, the character had achieved the kind of popularity enjoyed by her predecessors, Lulu and Iodine.
According to most sources, Audrey first appeared in Famous Studios' Santa's Surprise (1947), followed by a cameo in Olive Oyl For President (early 1948). Her first starring vehicle was Butterscotch and Soda, released June 1948. In common with many animated shorts of the period, child-like fantasy played an important role in Audrey's early cartoons, which often used dream sequences as the basis of the storylines.
In this way, Audrey could ride the clouds with Mother Goose (Goofy Goofy Gander), attend a wedding in Cakeland (Tarts and Flowers), or face an underwater tribunal of outraged catfish (The Seapreme Court). Slapstick humor crept into the series with the release of Surf Bored, which pitted the precocious little girl against a hulking but ultimately hapless life guard. A total of sixteen animated shorts were produced for theatrical release, several of which were re-packaged for television in the early sixties.
Little Audrey was never as successful as Famous' best known creation, Casper the Friendly Ghost, but the character is known to have had considerable success in printed form. Audrey was first published in comic book form by St. John Publications from 1948 to 1952. Visually speaking, the St. John version was the most faithful adaptation of the screen character, incorporating both the basic design and anatomical proportions of the original, although variations to the color work were evident (such as the altering of the dress from blue to yellow or green). Content wise, story lines depended more on situation comedy than on fantasy, emphasizing sight gags, blackout jokes and improbable scenarios appropriate to the age level of the audience. The series met with moderate success on the newstand, running for approximately twenty-four issues until the title was licensed by Harvey Comics in 1952.
Although the character is owned by Harvey Entertainment, at least three of the animated shorts and the St. John's comic adaption have entered the public domain due to lapsed copyright. Variants based on the original version of the character may therefore be employed (and developed) by writers and artists.
At this time, Little Audrey may not be used as the title of a comic due to trademark restrictions, although the name "Little Audrey" can be used within any story.
Public domain media
- Santa's Surprise (1947)
- Butterscotch and Soda (1948)
- The Lost Dream (1949)
- Tarts and Flowers (1950)|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESjMx0pQvHU
- Little Audrey 1-24 (St. John Publications, April 1948 - May 1952).
- Little Audrey Yearbook (St. John Publications, 1950).
- Little Audrey no. 4 (Jan. 1949)
- Little Audrey no. 7 (Oct. 1949)
- Neither the animated shorts nor the St. John comics mention Audrey's surname. Harvey's version of the character is named "Audrey Smith".
- The theatrical cartoons depict Audrey in a blue dress, while St. John's colorists put her in yellow or green. Harvey's character is most often portrayed in either a short red dress or a white top with a tartan skirt.
- In The Lost Dream, Audrey's family employs a black housekeeper.
- Audrey's parents in the St. John series are different to the parents in the Harvey version.
- In the St. John series, Audrey's best friend is a local boy nicknamed "Patches". Patches is based in the unnamed "Dutch boy" from Santa's Surprise.
- In the cartoon Audrey's voice was provided by Mae Questel.
- Little Audrey make's a cameo apperance in the 1948 Popeye Cartoon entitled Olive Oyl for President.