Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jon and Matthew's Rules of New Looney Tunes Cartoons

Jon and I were kicking around ideas on IM last night about the possibility of Warner Bros. creating a new Looney Tunes TV series similar to "Tom and Jerry Tales". If Tom and Jerry can be turned into TV shorts that are halfway decent, there is no reason a series of cartoons with the classic Warner gang couldn't work. Warner Bros. seems cursed...every time they create a new "Looney Tunes" project, whether it's a TV show, a movie, or a new short, they always make the same mistakes. When will they learn that we don't want babyfication ("Baby Looney Tunes"), a whole series based on one character with an uninspired supporting cast ("Taz Mania"), or futuristic superhero overhauls ("Loonatics Unleashed").

"Duck Dodgers" and "Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries" weren't bad ideas, but they ran out of gas quickly. These characters just work better in 6-minute cartoons, and they have to be done RIGHT. Here are some rules we came up with...and those of you reading this are welcome to suggest more!

RULE #1 --- Don't go cameo crazy. Keep the cartoons limited to 2 or 3 characters, you dont need EVERYBODY in EVERY cartoon

Rule # 2: ---There shouldn't be a mallet and/or anvil in every cartoon

Rule # 3---There are more Looney Tunes characters besides Tweety and Daffy Duck. USE them.

Rule #4 ---Don't try so hard to make the characters "hip" or "edgy" or spew out a bunch of lame pop-culture references that will be outdated in a week

# 5--Come up with new ideas not based on what Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese did 60 years ago.

#6 --- Keep the character designs of the original cartoons, dont make them look like animated 1990s clip art

#7--John Kricfalusi is not not copy him

# 8---Elmer Fudd is an idiot, but he's not a worthless character

#9--- Sylvester can do more than just chase somebody

#10 --- Pay attention to TIMING, not every cartoon needs to feel like watching a Looney Tune in fast forward (ie Box office Bunny, Pullet Surprise)

# 11-- don't make Bugs Bunny gay.

# 12-- Daffy Duck doesn't have to be mean ALL the time

#13 -- Maybe experiment with different character combinations that have never been explored before like in the comics (ie - Foghorn and Taz; Pete and Sam; Beaky and the Snowman, etc)

# 14: Warner Bros. has the rights to lots of contemporary music. If you wanna be contemporary, use music! (like Carl Stalling did)

# 15: Tweety is a boy.

#16 - DON'T rely on Modern day reality TV/movie parodies as a crutch for plots (like the earliest webtoons)

# 17: Don't use 3-D "shading" (ala "space Jam" and "Back in Action") to excess, if at all. CGI, too, should be avoided at all costs.

# 18:---Don't just script some dialogue and send it to Korea. WRITE and DRAW the bastard, then give someone with talent in your own country a JOB

#19:--You can make fun of current celebrities, but don't do it every time, and when you do, make sure it's someone people will remember 10, 20, or 50 years from now

#20 --- Another important one - characters don't need to TALK nonstop, let them DO something too

# 21When casting someone as the voice of Yosemite Sam, try to keep in mind that Sam DOESNT NEED TO YELL ALL THE TIME


Jeff Cook said...

Great list guys.
And how about not aiming it solely at kids aswell, remember the established fanbase.

Anonymous said...

I liked Taz-Mania.

Nick said...

Great set of rules! I would also add the following:

- Do not hire sitcom writers (as in the Larry Doyle disasters).

- A character being blown up or squashed isn't funny on it's own. It's moreso how its timed and the expressions of the character.

- None of the characters should have a family or any new invented children.

- Do not have some "hilarious" outtakes to go with the cartoon. It was funny in "Blooper Bunny", it hasn't been funny again.

And lastly, the most important rule...

- Do not sneak Cool Cat into every episode.

Anonymous said...

What's with all the fussy rules? Everybody knows Loonatics went on to become a smash hit, universally loved by all. Well, loved by millions. Well, loved by hundreds. Okay, loved by dozens. (...) ...a dozen?

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is terrific! Have you guys ever decided to send this to a network exec?

Martin Juneau said...

Looks like a excellent rules list idea for the Looney Tunes. A other nice idea i seen in comics a few years ago is Wile E. can catch other species than the Road Runner and in a other place than the Desert. Or Sam and Ralph don't need to be chums like in the later shorts. "Don't Give Up the Sheep" and "Sheep Ahoy" had neat ideas than the later ones.

I admit that we don't seen Tom and Jerry Tales here but i understand some peoples like it because they respect the traditional cartoons but a cartoon i suggest you to watch even if it's a bit risque is Brandy & Mr. Whiskers. Unlike i said a few years ago, they don't tried to imitate the other cartoons, it's a pure example of what cartoons need today. The season 1 was creative with a funny ploy but season 2 looks less good with the shopping temple add.

Yeah, Warner was very jerk with the Looney Tunes during the last years, i admit!

Rob G. said...

#7 can almost be a universal rule for all TV animation post Ren & Stimpy. Almost.

Good set of rules. Tweety turning into a girl even bugs my wife who isn't all that interested in WB 'toons.

Anonymous said...

OK, rule 7 is something EVERYONE should obey! I applaud you for making it.

One other thing I'd like to see added: get people who know Looney Tunes inside and out to work on the series - guys like Earl Kress, David Alvarez, Jerry Beck, who can draw and write original stuff for them.

Although I'd totally recommend making this as some kinda video so some WB guy would discover it, pass it around and maybe they'll learn something if the chance next rises. If WB can improve with Tom and Jerry, then sooner or later they'll have to get Looney Tunes right, also.

Anonymous said...

#22 - NEVER use Billy West as the voice of Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Porky Pig, or Marvin the Martian. No matter how much he begs, no matter how much he whines and cries about how better he is than Joe Alaskey, or Bob Bergen, EVEN if he promises to only work for a small amount of money, DO NOT USE HIM!!!!!!

Thad said...

Rule #22 - Unless you have a budget of about $30,000 per 7 minute short and plan on animating it in North America, don't bother attempting to do a new Warner short.

Rule #23 - People in charge need to know how to read and use bar sheets.

Rule #24 - NO FLASH.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jon and Matthew! Well said!

Yeldarb86 said...

I wish they would let American animators work on their own cartoons. What good is a nation's industry if we're not allowed to make our own products?

Also, people need to be careful when they're copying any artist. The irony of some folks following John K. too closely, which occurred in many 90's projects (to an embarrassing degree) is how many were trying to avoid the Disney style.

Anonymous said...

Rule #3: As with Tweety & Daffy
Duck, there are other Looney
Tunes characters besides the
Tasmanian Devil, too.

Anonymous said...

"NEVER use Billy West as the voice of Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Porky Pig, or Marvin the Martian."

However, by all means, hire him to play Elmer Fudd. That's a classic Warner Bros. voice that he really does well. Likewise, hire Bob Bergen for Porky Pig, and Joe Alaskey for Daffy Duck and Sylvester. (It's a shame Greg Burson died - he did a great Bugs Bunny, probably the closest to Mel's original I've ever heard.)

Oh, and just use the stock recordings of Paul Julian for the Road Runner - don't have someone try to recreate it. I think "Tiny Toons" did this a few times, and it sounded too weird.

And while I'm at it, another rule should be to electronically alter Tweety's voice (like they did for Mel Blanc) so that he actually sounds like a baby, not a grown man speaking like a baby. I don't think there's been a single post-Golden Age production that's done this, and it always sounds wrong to my ears.

Ricardo Cantoral said...

Rule 25: Taz is not a stoner teenager. As much as I like Jim Cummings, I never liked him as Taz.

Rule 26: Don't take one of the Looney Tunes character designs, give him or her clothing and dub it a new character.

Rule 27: John isn't god but pay him your respect by making one animal sacrifice.

Rule 28: Stop remaking A WILD HARE.

Anonymous said...

Matt, about your "no shading" rule.

I feel that one exception to this is live-action/animation hybrids, a la Space Jam/Looney Tunes: BIA, in order to make the characters "blend in with" their live-set environment and simulate the live photography. Without this, the characters would look as flate as they really are, as if they were pasted on top of the frame.

You've seen Cartoon Network's Out of Jimmy's Head, haven't you? Well, as an aspiring animator, I can tell you personally how I loathe the flat, pasted look the toons in that show had acquired when tossed in with the real people. That AND how they strictly avoided camera movement and shifting angles in the live shots to ease the matching of the two medums...

Ricardo Cantoral said...

Without this, the characters would look as flate as they really are, as if they were pasted on top of the frame."

Yes but it still dosen't look right on the characters. If any shading is to be done, Warners should hire George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic. They did a terrfic job for WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT ? .

Anonymous said...

Well, given how lousy both Space Jam and BIA were, it seems better to abandon animation/live action stuff like that... and thus avoid cel shading by default. :)

S.L said...

Talking about the new shorts directed by Larry Doyle, I remind that I read once that he and his staff was going to direct others looney tunes cartoons and he even listed some possible titles on which develop a plot!

Due the bad quality of some of them (I think that the "Wizzard of Ow" was the only one preety decent and funny)do you think that Doyle will have the chance to create new cartoons?

Anonymous said...

ABout the "no outsourcing" rule--while most of the South Korean studios specialise primarily in LIMITED ANIMATION for Saturday-morning cartoons (we all know what this looks like---there'll be a pose, some dialogue, another pose, some more dialogue, etc), one overseas studio has an excellent reputation, IMO, for Disney/WB/Avery-style FULL ANIMATION, and luckily, it IS NOT in South Korea.

I am talking about Toon City, Inc. (, a Phillipines-based firm who has, IMHO, demostrated a thorough knowledge in full animation. They were established by Disney in the early-to-mid 1990's and some of their best work IMO is on House of Mouse, Mickey's MouseWorks and other Disney shows.

Except for this, I completely agree with your "no outsourcing" policy.

Anonymous said...

I worked on the Larry Doyle shorts and I never heard one bad word about the quality of the cartoons. The story I was told back then was that WB wanted Doyle to write for the Back in Action feature, and that the only way he'd come on board was if they let him start a new shorts program. As soon as they got what they wanted out of him, the shorts program was dropped like a hot potato.

And, on a side note, as someone who worked on more than a couple of WB's shows that attempted to re-energize the classic characters, Larry Doyle's shorts were BY FAR the closest anyone has come to the quality of the originals in the past 50 years.

Anonymous said...

[re: contemporayr music)
In keeping with the general disapproval by many of us fans on rap images, no such uses of that music.

Anonymous said...

Rule #3 should be underlined and enlarged! The guys who worked down at Termite Terrance, didn't spend thrity plus years just using the
same characters over and over.
Rule #18 is a good rule too. I like Anime, but I like Looney Tunes alot more, I think we should be animating American cartoons, here IN America.

Personally, I liked Loonatics, it actually wasn't a bad idea, what it REALLY needed was better writers.

As for rules, I am the only one who thinks they're over doing it in the sound department? And it's not the classic "KA-BOOM!" sounds either, it's those cheap internet ones. If you're gonna do sound make it sound good!(hey a pun!)

As for paradies of T.V. shows, I'm not a fan, but an Looney Tunes American Idol would be funny.
Anime parodies too. (I relize I may be in the minority on this one)

Awesome list! Keep it up!:)

Anonymous said...

22. Use some of the less known characters (like Michigan J. Frog, Lola Bunny, Penelope Pussycat, Gossamer).

23. Try not to make them too lenthy. Just a simple 6-8 minute short.

24. Most importantly think LOONEY!

Anonymous said...

You went too far when you mentioned taz-mania. It was an amazing cartoon filled with funny jokes/references and wittingly breaking the 4th wall every now then. It was one of the many golden cartoons of the 90s and I prefer jim cummings over taz's original voice actor by a longshot. Teenage taz was way more suited for taz's overall character. An adult taz is just grumpy but a teen taz... Now that's crazy and wild!

Ian said...

#25.) Ignore Rule Number 5!!! Sometimes stories for Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies Cartoons can be based on some of the best classic LT&MM Cartoons. You just need to think up some good ideas for characters and location.

And sometimes stories can be used from fan fics, just use your imagination! :D

#26.) When using sound effects for Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Cartoons, use the sound effects in than of Treg Brown's and Lee Gunther's sound libraries, they make the best cartoon sound effects for classic cartoons.

Anonymous said...

Regarding "Don't just script some dialogue and ship it off to Korea," that reminds me of how in most cases, Warner Bros. Animation prefers to use Lotto Animation and DongWoo Animation Co. Ltd as their chief suppliers of overseas animation. The main exception is "The Looney Tunes Show," which uses better companies like Rough Draft and Toon City Animation (Wang Film Productions would be a good choice too.)

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