Thursday, March 10, 2011

Diversity in Comics: Tiny and Little Audrey


Little Audrey was originally published by St. John but later became a Harvey Comics title. In the mid-1950s, totally against the norm for mainstream comic books, it included an African American character, Tiny, who wasn't some bizarre stereotype, but was just a normal kid like the other characters in the stories. He hung out with Audrey and Melvin, and participated in the group's adventures. He even had his own feature. In this first Audrey story, from Little Audrey 42 (June 1955), Tiny is one of the main protagonists. There's no racial disharmony, and race isn't mentioned - it isn't presented as an issue. This is just a bunch of kids who are friends and do stuff together.


This next Audrey story, again from Little Audrey 42, also features Tiny, who is as much in difficulty in dealing with the intellectual new girl as are the others.

 


Finally, here's a solo Tiny story, from Playful Little Audrey 2 (August 1957). The cover is typical of Harvey kids' comics covers from the 50s and 60s.We learn a little about Tiny's background from this one. He's got a cute mom. The family lives in a nice house, and Tiny is well-dressed. This looks like a middle class part of town. They have a nice yard as well. So Harvey are not trying to lay a whole ghetto image on Tiny. There's no blaxploitation here. Tiny's a middle class kid from a well-resourced home.


If you're interested in reading another Tiny story, there's one from Playful Little Audrey 4 over on Mykal Banta's blog, The Big Blog of Kids' Comics. You'll have to scroll down past the first two Audrey stories (or read them first on your way down the page). Anyway - interesting stuff! Smack bang in the middle of the still segregated 50s, when there were, with very few exceptions, no African American characters in mainstream fictional comics, we've got a character appearing fairly regularly, even getting his own strip. How revolutionary is that!!! Many thanks to Green Giant for the Little Audrey 42 scans, and SOTE for the Tiny story.

6 comments:

  1. Tiny is adorable! Now, I wonder if he is just small, or if he is supposed to be the youngest kind in the bunch?

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  2. Jacque: He seems to be in the same class as Audrey and Melvin, so I'm guessing he's meant to be around the same age, just...Tiny!

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  3. KB: Tiny and his family were the first black characters portrayed in a positive way in comic books - without being racial stereotypes. Harvey comics is never given enough credit. Good on you for sharing this great stuff. I believe the artist is Howie Post.

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  4. Mykal: Howie Post! I never knew, wow! I have since obtained a few more Audrey comics with Tiny in, so I'll scan some stories from them now I'm back blogging. Good to hear from you!

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  5. KB: Post was really something. I look forward to more Audrey! Great to have you back.

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  6. Blacks did have better lives then people think however do to the Mafia and other dangerous criminals and hate groups they were to be protected with many tactics we seem to think are strange but i say they did help and had many benefits(IE first rich holly-wood black person as well as the first Asian rich actor Mr Hayakawa and as well as many
    firsts and successes.

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