Random semiconscious musings

Monday, July 09, 2007

See the Film, Read the Book

As a follow-up to my previous post, here's another example of a cartoon tying in with a comic book story.... only in this case it is the other way around. I'm going to feature my most favourite Little Audrey cartoon of all time- Audrey The Rainmaker.

Many animation aficionados detest Audrey, probably because she doesn't have the temper of Donald Duck or the moxy of Bugs Bunny... or maybe because she's considered a pale successor to Marge's Little Lulu. However, any of you that have read my posts on the matter will recall that I find the cartoons entertaining in a simple and innocent way. They're made for children- generally- although at first the cartoons required a little adjusting (hey- "Santa's Surprise" has got to contain the most broadly-aimed racism I can think of). However, even though Audrey was largely hallucinogenic for the most part, it's hard not to find some sense of charm in her featured cartoons.

Once the formula of her cartoons was bullseyed, Famous Studios and Harvey Entertainment moved swiftly and hit upon a market niche that put them on the Wall Street map. Merchandising tie-ins with the theatrical releases became abundant.... even though the characters already existed in print and similar marketing venues, the cartoons catapulted the popularity of Famous/Harvey's holdings and entrenched them into North American nostalgia history forever.

Anyway, onto the subject at hand. The cartoon Audrey The Rainmaker was released in 1951. A few years later, the story was recycled into the comic book, which was printed for a December 1952 issue, #27.

The beautiful cover and story artwork were penned by the magnificent Steve Muffatti. He also animated on the cartoon too. (By the way, if you managed to pick up one of Electric Tiki's Mini-Maquettes of the limited edition Little Audrey, the above is the color scheme it was based on.... I got mine ;) )

Take a look at the story. Although it was condensed into the five page format, the general idea is still there. Notice Audrey is so narcoleptic she's falling asleep as her mother yells at her... also, unlike in the cartoon, the flowers she's trying to water at the beginning are quite dead....

It's interesting to note some of the differences that were made in the comic book adaptation from the animated production just a few years before. Her African-American maid, Petunia, is now replaced by her mother; the Rainmaker is now wearing clothes (I think in the cartoon having him semi-naked made him seem a bit more like some Roman deity, which made the story a bit more fantastic); Audrey actually is shown falling asleep in the comic book, whereas in the animated film, it seems to have happened in her everyday life. However the bad puns are still there (Famous gagmen were all given $5 extra for every pun that they contributed to a film).

It is really quite a charming piece of animation history, and as I mentioned before, one of Audrey's best outings. Mae Questel does a wonderful job with Audrey's voice, and the animation and backgrounds are beautiful. There's even that element of seriousness in the cartoon which makes us step outside the romanticism of the storytelling, as we see the entire country in its 107th day of drought- and the depiction of such is somewhat grim, especially the guy who gets his black market drop of water and goes into a heat-induced frenzy.

Also note that the version on the "Harveytoon Collection" DVD set is edited... here is the complete original. I hope you enjoy it.