Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Life and Times of Cicero Pig


Cicero Pig, Porky's mischievous nephew, had a rather prolific career for a character who was pretty much used everywhere except in the actual cartoons. The roots of the character can be traced back to two cartoons directed by Bob Clampett: "Porky's Naughty Nephew" (1938) and "Porky's Picnic" (1939) where the bratty piggy is named "Pinky". In 1942, the character surfaced in the sixth issue Dell's Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies comic book where he was called "Algernon". In this first comic book story, Algernon wears a sailor suit (similar to Donald Duck's) and is, visually, the same character who would later become Cicero. A few issues later, a different piglet named "Cicero" appeared as Petunia's cousin. This time the character was wearing the same baby clothes the animated "Pinky" character wore in the Clampett cartoons. Shortly after, the two characters were merged into the Cicero who became a regular in the Looney Tunes cast when they appeared in printed form for over 40 years. While most prominently used in the comic books, Cicero crossed over into various LT storybooks, Little Golden Books, coloring books, and puzzles (which were also put out by Western Publishing), the "Bugs Bunny" daily comic strip, and on a couple LT Capitol Records (where he was voiced by Mel Blanc --- try to picture an even more sped-up version of Mel's Sylvester Jr/Henery Hawk-type voice).



Cicero's career lasted through the 1970s and 1980s, but he ended up being phased out when Warner Bros. decided in the late '80s/early '90s to have the Looney Tunes based merchandise and comics more accurately reflect the look and style of the cartoons. The final use of the character that I have found was a Golden Look-Look Book from 1990 called Bugs Bunny and His Sunburned Ears by Gina Ingoglia and illustrations by Joe Messerli (you can see how Messerli's illustrations have started to abandon the earlier Western Publishing comic book designs of the characters). This rather forgettable storybook turned out to be Cicero's swan song.





Cicero was never seen again. Cicero Pig, we here at Misce-Looney-ous salute you.

On a final note, Bugs Bunny and His Sunburned Ears is also noteworthy for a one-page appearance by a cashier at a sporting goods store who looks suspiciously like a clean-shaven version of Scooby-Doo's pal, Shaggy.



Bugs Bunny and His Sunburned Ears had predicted the future.

Thanks to David Gerstein, Thad K, and Jack Tatay for their posting of some Cicero history in the past on the GAC Forums.

More Cicero Fun!
Jon gave us a pretty good history of Porky's little nephew, Cicero. Or should we say Petunia's cousin? You do the math...it's not pretty. But did you know that Beaky Buzzard, another minor character who had a large presence in comics and merchandise, had a nephew in the comics? Little Bernard Buzzard never appeared in a Warner Bros. animated cartoon. He is essentially a miniature clone of his Uncle Beaky. Here's a 1946 classic Dell comic story, featuring Porky, Petunia, Cicero, Beaky, and Little Bernard.



(to view the whole story, just change the page number in the url of the image!) 12 pages in all.

7 comments:

BrandonPierce said...

Woah, that was a real trip down memory lane. I have "Bugs Bunny's Sunburned Ears" somewhere in storage. I used to like it as a kid.

Personally I find any kiddie LT book that depicts Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer as chummy friends, hysterical. Do you guys have the book where Elmer leaves Bugs in charge to watch over his carrot garden? That one's a laugh riot (for the wrong reasons).

Mike Matei said...

why does cicero have to wear a donald duck hat? is he trying to cash in on his fame?

pablo said...

Anybody remembers the name of the little girl and the mouse who had adventures underground mostly, when she summoned some magic words and became small like him? In Mexico she was Mary Juana and the Mouse was SIFO, the magic words were "tofi, tufi and tifo, make me as small as Sifo"... I would like to know their names in english, Thanks. Pablo

ramapith said...

Pablo, you're thinking of Mary Jane and Sniffles. And the magic words in English that correspond to yours are "Magic words of Poof, Poof, Piffles... make me just as small as Sniffles."

Mary Jane comes from a 1934 Merrie Melodies cartoon, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, while Sniffles was in numerous Warner cartoons later in the 1930s and 1940s.

pablo said...

Thank you. You are right. I have never seen in them animated but remember them in the Bugs Bunny comics. I have several cartoon compilations (50, 60, 150 cartoon classics, etc) but I don't remember seeing them there... Anyway, with your help I can start looking for those lost pieces of my memory again!

pablo said...

I just remembered a little mouse like Sniffle, who got drunk in a swing symphony from Walter Lantz, where he sees a dancing Lobster that resembles Carmen Miranda... little mice like them were very popular in that time, right?

Devon said...

The comic was drawn by Tom McKimson, right?

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