Monday, February 20, 2012

Diversity in Comics: Little Audrey's African American friends

The first respectfully portrayed African American character in mainstream comics was Tiny, one of Little Audrey's friends in Harvey Comics of the 1950s. Although on the cover of this 1973 issue of Little Audrey and Melvin (#56), Tiny doesn't actually appear in any of the stories contained within. However, there is one story in which Audrey is accompanied by an African American girl of roughly the same age, along with her little brother. These were regular characters in the book by this time, and although their names are not mentioned in this particular story, the girl is Pat and her little brother is Han. I stopped reading Harvey Comics around 1965, and I don't remember these characters from the early 60s, and looking through the Audrey books in my collection I see that Tiny was actually phased out around the mid-1960s and replaced in the Audrey books with Pat and Han as representatives of diversity. What this story shows is that Harvey Comics had stepped up their representation of the African American community by the early 1970s, nearly 20 years on from their first introduction of Tiny, in keeping with the trend throughout mainstream comics of the early Bronze Age, although actually they were originally innovators in terms of including regular African American characters in their books.


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