Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Your Grocer's Freezer

We've written about the Tyson frozen Looney Tunes meals from the early 1990s a few times in the past. Now here's the original commercial for them:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This Is Your Life, Mel Blanc!

Here's a wonderful "This Is Yor Life" tribute to Mel Blanc, from sometime in the mid 1980's. Not only do we get Mel Blanc, there are appearances by his son, Noel, Chuck Jones, and Joe Barbera! There's not much information in it that hasn't been documented, but check out Chuck Jones literally laughing so hard at one of Blanc's voices that he falls off the couch! Maybe the only time I've ever seen Jones laugh.

Beaky Comic

J.E. Daniels has posted a fine modern Looney Tunes comic story on his blog. It is a solo story with Beaky Buzzard written by Earl Kress and some great artwork by Dave Alvarez: The Abominable Snow Buzzard

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Coke, Pepsi!

I think now would be a good time to take a break from discussing 1990's Warner animation (which seems to have fallen out of favor for some reason) and talk about something I've collected for some time and am close to completing. This was a promotion for Pepsi Cola from 1973, and it began a trend that continues to this day: promotional glassware. Some brillaint marketing person must have awakened one morning and said "Let's put popular cartoon characters on a series of drinking glasses, and we'll make enough of them so that people will collect them and buy more Pepsi!" Then they thought "Why not offer them to any restaurant that carries Pepsi?"

The result was a deal with Warner Bros. that included 18 characters, ranging from the hugely popular to the very obscure. Unlike most of the Looney Tunes merchandise I've seen from the 1970's, this set of 18 glasses has some wonderful artwork, most of them the official studio publicity poses for each character. Not surprisingly, the series was popular enough that it encouraged Pepsi to seek out other cartoon studios, and there were eventually series of Lantz, Hanna-Barbera and Jay Ward characters. They also produced two series of "action scene" Warner glasses that featured some of the UGLIEST artwork of the characters ever produced.

Anyway, the 18 characters in the 1973 Pepsi glass series were:

Bugs Bunny
Daffy Duck
Elmer Fudd
Yosemite Sam
Porky Pig
Petunia Pig
Speedy Gonzales
Slowpoke Rodriguez
Foghorn Leghorn
Henery Hawk
Tasmanian Devil
Beaky Buzzard
Pepe Le Pew
Wile E. Coyote
Road Runner
Cool Cat

Some were produced in higher quantities than others, and given the fragile nature of glass and 35 years of floating around kitchen cabinets, storage boxes and garage sale circulation, they have become quite rare. The hardest to find are Slow Poke, Taz, and Henery Hawk (the only one I am missing.) I've been fairly lucky, the most I've ever paid for one of these glasses is 14 dollars...but some that I paid a buck or two for at an antique mall go for 60 or more on Ebay.

But you don't care about all that. You want to see pictures. Well, here you go. A group shot and individual close-ups. The only ones not pictured are Beaky Buzzard (not photographed) and Henery Hawk (if anyone knows where to find him cheap, let me know!)


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Whatever Happened to Buddy?

Regardless of what you may think of Animaniacs, if you are a Looney Tunes fan you have to admit that their parody of Buddy cartoons was pretty funny. In a mock "65th anniversary" retrospective, we learn that that Yakko, Dot and Wakko got their start as co-stars in Buddy cartoons in the 1930s (we also learn what Buddy has been up to in the years since his retirement from WB cartoons).

Of course, making it all the funnier is knowing there is actually a kernel of truth behind the spoof. When the Warner Bros. studio bigshots saw the first Buddy cartoon (1933's "Buddy's Day Out") they deemed it to be so poor the studio originally refused to release it. This left producer Leon Schlesinger scrambling to have Friz Freleng salvage what he could from this trainwreck. Someone has posted the cartoon to DailyMotion (complete with original titles even!). Saying that it might just be a cure for insomnia isn't too far off the mark.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mike Kazaleh on Duck Dodgers, Jr. and Maurice Noble

The following comes from Mike Kazaleh, one of the co-writers of the "Duck Dodgers, Jr." short from "Tiny Toon Adventures" we featured earlier. Special thanks to Thad K. for contacting Mr. Kazaleh and asking him about his work on the show and with Maurice Noble.

"Yes, I have lots of stories about that particular cartoon. It was not Maurice's first work sans Chuck, as in the early to mid seventies, he worked with Hawley Pratt at DFE (and in the mid fifties, he worked at John Sutherland.) It was the cartoon that put him back into cartoons, though, as he went into fine art prints about eight years earlier (beautiful hand made silkscreen prints.) We immediately became close friends, and we were friends until his death. Maurice came up with all the crazy landscapes and machines seen in the beginning of the cartoon. He originally designed the settings in nice, flat colors, but the background artists at Wang Films in Taipei (where this episode was produced) couldn't believe we wanted them flat, so they used airbrush instead. Owen Fitzgerald did some layouts in this picture. I met Kent Butterworth in the mid eighties, and we first worked together on Bakshi's Mighty Mouse. Kent and I are still friends, and we've worked on a lot of projects together. I wrote this cartoon using Wayne Katz's idea of a machine that sucked up planets. I also was told that I had to put in Marvin Martian's daughter. I also did the storyboard and the character models. This may be hard to believe, but at the time, the studio only had one model sheet of Marvin the Martian, and it was one that Chuck drew in 1980, which nobody wanted to use. Steve Spielberg was very stoked on this story. In fact, he asked me to add all that stuff at the end of all the crap getting sucked in (including sucking up the background ala "The Yellow Submarine".) I needed to come up with a new punch line, as the cartoon was originally going to end with an angry cube martian chasing an cubed Daffy Duck. Steve also added a few things, like Daffy's gearshift moment. The picture was about a minute over length as a result, so Kent shortened the other pictures in that half hour.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bugs Bunny Show Promo

Here's a promo for The Bugs Bunny Show that I had never seen before. It features all-original animation of Bugs and some rather jealous co-stars.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Duck Dodgers, Jr.

Here is an early Tiny Toon Adventures episode featuring a memorable team-up between Daffy Duck and his protege, Plucky. It is, to my knowledge, the only time Marvin the Martian ever appeared on the show (with a daughter, yet!)

The animation is horrible, as the overseas animators hadn't quite gotten the hang of the show's style yet. But it's notable for a couple of reasons: One, Maurice Noble himself designed the backgrounds and worked on the story, and Two, it's one of Jeff Bergman's last Warner cartoon voice roles. Joe Alaskey, who voices Plucky and Marvin here, later assumed the role of Daffy, and remains Daffy's voice to this very day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

June Bugs

Ah, who doesn't remember Cartoon Network's annual June Bugs marathons? The time of year when CN would devote an entire weekend of their schedule to nothing but Bugs Bunny cartoons. I think June Bugs goes back as far as CN itself (correct me if I'm wrong). The ultimate June Bugs was, of course, the one held in 2001 which showcased every single Bugs short in chronological order (with the exception of 11 that were pulled at the last minute for content reasons --- the original plan was to run these "un-PC" shorts in the dead of night with disclaimers, but the CN folks got cold feet and it resulted in a lot of media attention).

Below are some of the bumpers for what turned out to be the final June Bugs marathon on Cartoon Network. It had an "A to Z" theme and the shorts were played in alphabetical order. Porky Pig narrated the marathon (not sure who voiced Porky, it doesn't sound like our friend Bob Bergen).

June Bugs 2002 "A to Z" Bumpers

These same bumpers were recycled by Boomerang the following two years when they aired their own version of June Bugs... before they pulled the plug, too.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Daffy Duck meets Hippety Hopper

This isn't anything official, but I did think it would be fun to post. When I was in college, I drew a really rough storyboard of a Looney Tune, a sort of "what-if" crossover between Daffy Duck, Sylvester & Son, and Hippety Hopper. I suppose I could have gone back and done a final, nicely inked and colored version, but that would take, well, time and effort! Still, I think the story turned out funny, and the rough drawings had some personality. Even looking back on it 4 or 5 years later, I am still pleased with the result. Paging Earl are welcome to steal this idea for a comic book if you want. It looks like they need you over at DC, anyway!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Bugs Bunny "Shoprite" Ad

I have no idea what (or where) "Shoprite" is. But I do know that this recent spot may be the worst animation I've ever seen of Bugs Bunny in a tv commercial. Advice to those illustrating and animating Looney Tunes: Put...the airbrush tools....DOWN! Also, use the model sheets and clipart poses as a GUIDE, not a CRUTCH.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Prince Violent - Original Titles

Here's something I am sure not many people have seen. Below is the original title sequence to the 1961 Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam cartoon "Prince Violent". Why is it so rare? Well, at some point during the late 1970s, the cartoon was retitled "Prince Varmint" by CBS when the cartoon broadcast on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (no doubt to avoid using the word "violent" in the title). The alternate title stuck ever since and WB continued to distribute the CBS-titled copy of this cartoon for a number of years. A new modern set of titles (above), still calling the cartoon "Prince Varmint", were created in 1992 for the Fox Network's version of Merrie Melodies Starring Bugs Bunny & Friends (this was the version of the cartoon that was aired on Cartoon Network and Boomerang a few years back). The cartoon has never got an official release on ANY home video format either.

(On a sidenote - CBS also retitled the Porky Pig cartoon "Curtain Razor" as "Show Stopper" around the same time (late 70s)... luckily that alternate title didn't stick!)

Anyway, here it is!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Worst Looney Tunes comic story, EVER

I had high hopes for DC's 163rd issue of Looney Tunes, especially after last month's great Bugs/Sam issue. Boy, was I wrong! It features two worse-than-usual Sylvester and Tweety stories, and...this one. A Bugs/daffy/Rocky/Mugsy/Porky story drawn by Scott Gross, the same guy who's been doing the covers lately (and once drew Rocky as the boss of Hanna-Barbera's Anthill mob!) It features 3 different misspellings of Rocky's name, terrible perspective drawing, and possibly the worst art of Bugs, Daffy and Porky ever commited to paper. And if you can make sense of the story, you're smarter than I am! I just had to scan it and share it here, it's THAT bad!

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Excuse me while I go find a paper shredder.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Healthy Looney Tunes

If you do your grocery shopping at Safeway stores it sounds like you will be seeing more of the Looney Tunes characters soon. Variety reports that Warner Bros. and the grocery chain have teamed up to have the LT characters appear on a new Eating Right Kids line of food and beverages, rolling out on store shelves this summer. The product line covers more than 100 items across 30 categories including breakfast foods, portable meals, dairy, snacks and beverages.

As part of the deal, Warner Bros. said it will no longer feature its Looney Tunes characters on unhealthy food packaging, other than certain ice cream products or birthday cakes.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tom and Speedy

Here's a recent commercial for Cartoon Network Latin America teaming Tom with the fastest mouse in Mexico.

Other odd team-ups from this same ad campaign include Dexter and the Road Runner and Batman and the Inch High Private Eye.
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