Little Audrey (full name Audrey Smith) is a fictional character, appearing in Paramount Pictures' Famous Studios 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), where she was the most prominent member of a multicultural 'child cast', followed by a supporting role in the Popeye cartoon, 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 1951. 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, storylines 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 licenced by Harvey Comics in 1952.
Initially, Harvey's comic-strip version closely followed its animated template, but the general storyline was later overhauled to provide Audrey with supporting characters such as Melvin Wisenheimer (her ugly, prank-playing archrival) and Tiny (one of the first racially integrated characters to appear in children's comics). Domestic comedy gradually took over the script as Audrey was shown in conflict with parents, teachers and numerous other authority caricatures that drifted in and out of the strip.
Harvey acquired property rights for Audrey (and several other Famous characters) in 1958, giving the company full control over the character's appearance and editorial policies. It was during this time that the 'definitive' Audrey came into being, taking on the signature 'red dress' appearance most often associated with the character. By 1960, Little Audrey was the best known of Harvey's female characters due to her multi-media presence (comic books, television/theatrical animation and - briefly - newspaper strips), although her popularity was later eclipsed by the company's other pinch-hitters, Little Dot, Wendy the Good Little Witch and Little Lotta.
As with most of Harvey's child-oriented titles, the Audrey strip featured sporadic spanking imagery, generally the result of generational conflicts with parents and/or teachers (occasionally due to Melvin's malicious schemes). Spanking was almost uniformly OTK on the panties, as was the convention of the period, and performed often enough for the character to achieve near-iconic status within the online spanking community. In comparison with her contemporaries, Audrey was probably the most frequently spanked of the 'Harvey Girls,' being far more mischievous than Dot, Lotta, Wendy or Gloria.
The character was published continuously until 1976, when an industry-wide distribution slump brought an end to most of Harvey's line (and caused the mass-extinction of children's comics in general). Since that time, the character has undergone several revivals and made scattered television and video appearances (most notably in The Richie Rich Show, 1996), but in the present day, Audrey is a mere shadow of her former self; mostly remembered - when at all - by diehard spanking enthusiasts with a view to nostalgia.