Today is the 75th birthday of one of the great characters in the history of the animated genre, and in many ways, one of the greatest comedians of all time, the irrepressible Bugs Bunny, whose slick, extremely sharp and cunning personality, in which he employed a take-no-prisoners approach in the most side splitting ways to mow down his numerous adversaries in countless animated shorts, has endeared him to countless generations of fans to this very day.
Without question the top draw and flagship character of the myriad of many colorful ones to come from the legendary minds of Warner Brothers’ cartoon division (and realized by men like animation pioneers Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Robert McKimson, and Chuck Jones), Bugs Bunny is a reflection of a Groucho Marx come to life. A vivid radical, break-all-the-rules, set new ones and smash those as well, and live every nanosecond as unorthodox as possible and on the fringes of the fringes of life, in which he did whatever it took to destroy his many adversaries (Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, etc). Bugs did it all for simply hitting the bullseye of achieving a level of self fun which stretched to the apex on a mission to simply eradicate boredom, and in which by doing so, he ultimately did the same for us as well.
Bob Clampett, one of the true pioneers of American animation, who had directed Warner Brothers cartoons (and helped design characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig) and had massive success with the children’s program Beany and Cecil, died 30 years ago today on May 2, 1984.
Although not one of the more readily household names when it comes to rattling off animation legends (legends like Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Walter Lantz, and Walt Disney among others), Bob Clampett nonetheless took a stranglehold on the genre, infusing it with a wide array of visual absurdities only rivaled by the eclectically demented works of the aforementioned Tex Avery. For Clampett, anything BUT tradition and playing it safe were the true orders of the day. While many of his colleagues at Warner’s during his tenure there (during the 1930s and 1940s) decried Clampett’s alleged plagiarism and a propensity to steal ideas, Bob Clampett still nonetheless carved his niche in a steel block of titanium as some of his cartoons still hold up as not only the best Warner Brothers had to offer — and that’s saying a lot considering the overflowing wellspring of talent that emanated from there — but also some of the best the entire animation field itself had to offer.
The Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol 1-6, a 6-volume 24-disc DVD compendium of some of the greatest animated cartoons to come from the Warner Brothers studio, is on sale today from Amazon for only $64.99, an incredible deal that’s more than half the list price of $145.00!
Without question, the animated shorts that came from Warner Brothers still stand today as one of the upper echelon bodies of work of the entire animation genre itself. Making the focus on comedy , they were in sharp contrast to the output coming from the Walt Disney studios at the time (the mid 20th century). Sporting a rather rebellious, anarchic feel to them, they delighted and continue to delight scores of generations of fans globally. They also manifested superstars and legendary characters such as Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, and of course, one of the great characters in the history of cartoons itself, the irrepressible, take-no-prisoners, do whatever it takes to snare your opponent and outwit him, the one-of-a-kind, once in a lifetime, Bugs Bunny.
Today marks the birthday of the late Tex Avery, the master class animator who stretched the boundaries of the cartoon and produced work during the 1940s and the 1950s that completely changed the game in terms of what the genre could achieve.
Starting at Walter Lantz’s studio right before their heyday in the animation ring and then jumping ship to direct some Warner Brothers and especially MGM’s finest and funniest cartoons of all-time, the work of Tex Avery stands and remains akin to a cachet of symphonies written by Beethoven or the works of Duke Ellington.
To celebrate the premiere of the animated series Looney Tunes 2011, a new YouTube page called What Tunes You On has been launched to showcase some of the best moments from the animated classic Looney Tunes.