Wednesday, January 14, 2009


That’s quite an imagination Little Audrey has there. A wee bit on the literal side, though. Must be a Calvinist. Famous Studios basically came up with Little Audrey to replace Little Lulu, a character for whom they no longer wanted to pay the licensing rights. Unfortunately for them, Audrey never really caught on with audiences, and was only marginally more successful in Harvey Comics where she played second fiddle to the likes of Richie Rich and Casper The Friendly Ghost. Why the lukewarm reception? Well, according to Walt Disney Comic’s writer Don Markstein, “What set Audrey apart from most of the Harvey characters was that she didn't have a quirk. Little Lotta was a compulsive eater, Richie Rich was fabulously wealthy, Hot Stuff was a demon from Hell… Audrey just couldn't stand out in a crowd like that, and she wasn't as good a character as Lulu in the first place. She faded from view more quickly than the other Harveys.”

To be fair, Audrey actually did have one distinguishing quirk, but it’s a pretty obscure one which Famous Studios didn’t do too good a job of bringing to the forefront in their cartoons. According to the book The American People  By Benjamin Albert Botkin & Louis Filler, before the animated version appeared in the 1940s, Little Audrey actually existed as a folk-lore character “about whom thousands of nonsensical short stories have been told. Sometimes Little Audrey parades as Little Emma or Little Gertrude, but she usually is recognizable by a catch phrase – she “just laughed and laughed”. The amusing incident is typically a catastrophe. Little Audrey sees the humour in any situation.” As an example, the authors offer up a typical Little Audrey tale. “Little Audrey and her date were sitting on the sofa when all of a sudden the lights went out. “Oh” said Little Audrey’s boyfriend, “it sure is dark in here. I can’t even see my hand in front of me.” Little Audrey just laughed and laughed, ‘cause she knew all the time that his hand wasn’t in front of him.” Ba-dum-dum.

Bad jokes aside, the tales of Little Audrey appear to have circulated during the Great Depression as one way of helping people maintain a sense of perspective during hard times. Of course, there are times when cartoons and jokes just aren’t enough, and when that happens, nothing seems to beat that old time religion. That’s because, as The Catechism (quoting Sacrosanctum Concilium) reminds us, “at its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life... This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God, establishes a basic fraternity, teaches people to encounter nature and understand work, provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a very hard life.” So don’t come looking for any of that clinging bitterly to religion around these parts. Around here, we’ve got joy, joy, joy, joy, down in our hearts. And when all is said and done, and we look back on the hard times, I think we’ll find most of the time we just laughed and laughed.


Anonymous said...

off topic, but since he was a devout Catholic & in "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes", could you do a little tribute to R. Montalban??

Xena C.

EegahInc said...

On its way.

Anonymous said...

And I just laughed and laughed... because I wasn't expecting to read my favorite Little Audrey joke today.