Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bugs Bunny Evolution- he gets a name and some style

In these next 2 cartoons, the directors are still using the Bob Givens model sheet, yet they still manage to assert their own styles on top of the standardized studio one. This is illegal today.

Elmer's Pet Rabbit - Chuck Jones
Chuck loved his shadows in the early days!
This is the first time the rabbit gets called "Bugs Bunny".
Chuck is starting to put angles on his characters.

Bugs walks all hunched over like Groucho Marx in Chuck's early cartoons. He is still part animal.

Marc Deckter sent me this and says it's a Bob McKimson model. Maybe it is, but it's not too different than the Bob Givens rabbit yet. I'm not sure which cartoon it goes with. Anyone know for sure?

Tortoise Beats Hare -Tex Avery

This is the first cartoon that Bugs Bunny loses in.

Bugs is drawn really solidly in the cartoon and his personality is pretty defined, but it's a slightly different personality than what he became shortly after. I really like this period of Bugs. All This and Rabbit Stew and Heckling Hare are two more great Tex Avery Bugs cartoons in this style. Then Clampett's Wabbit Twouble. I guess this Bugs lasted through Wacky Wabbit. Then Bugs Bunny Gets The Boid was a transition to the more triangle headed and older rabbit you see in Falling Hare.

Clampett later remade the tortoise and hare cartoon, as if he wasn't satisfied with how it came out the first time. It's great to compare this to Tortoise Wins By a Hare to see how two different directors use the same story and the same characters and get a completely different experience out of it.
And then if you are a real man and love Friz, check his own remake to see just how he brought the cartoon "back down to earth" (his own words).
What's the name of that cartoon you Friz experts out there?

Look at the difference between the way he is drawn in this cartoon as compared with Chuck's. Can you articulate it, now that your eyeballs are getting an education?

Now the turtle is the fag.

I love when Bugs tries to figure out how he lost. It shows a whole extra dimension to his character.


David Germain said...

The model sheet looks like it could have been used for Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk (by Friz Freleng c. 1943. Although I don't McKimson would have made a model sheet for Friz at this time. Oh well, this is jut a wild gues on my part.

But I definitely do know that Friz' version of the tortoise/hare senario is Rabbit Transit (c. 1947) available on the LT dvds Vol. 2 as well as on the cassette simply titled Bugs!

Although, the name "Bugs Bunny" actually first appeared on the model sheet for the rabbit used in Bugs Hardaway's toon Hare-um Scare-um (c. 1939) but Jones Elmer's Pet Rabbit (c. 1941) was the first time the name "Bugs Bunny" appeared on the screen. Just something I thought should be added.

JohnK said...

Hey David, thanks for the info!

JohnK said...

Actually, didn't the model sheet say "Bug's Bunny"? indicating that someone believed he was Bugs Hardaway's creation?

David Germain said...

Yep, I did leave out the apostrophe. Character designer Charles Thorston was the one who made that model sheet for Mr. Hardaway. But, I don't think Charlie at the time was trying to place any identification on Bugs' creator. He just labelled it Bug's Bunny so that everyone at the studio knew which director it was going to. According to Chuck Jones, noone really knew they had a great character in the making until Tex Avery's A Wild Hare came out.

Robert Hume said...

As far as the differences in how Chuck would draw bugs in Contrast to Bob Clampet, the first thing I notice is how short Bugs is in all of Chucks cartoons. Look at the Bugs in Clampet's cartoons, or hell, look at the way bugs if drawn by pretty much any other Warner Brothers director. Chuck liked to draw Bugs shorter than all of them! Maybe this is part of the whole Groucho Marcs thing Chuck had going for Bugs when he would portray him…who knows.

Eric C. said...

I noticed that Mel didn't perform Bugs's voice on Elmer's Pet Rabbit.

I mean, It looks like Bugs but doesn't sound like Bugs.

But It still had great acting in it.

jess green said...

(and now for something completely different...)

This artist named Michael Paulus was featured in my local paper today. Click on the link to see his work featuring some skeletons based on cartoon characters. I thought this was very clever!!

Anatomy of Cartoon Characters!

john a said...

In Jones' earlier Bugs cartoons, Chuck tried to keep him very "soft" looking by making him smaller and rounder, with bigger eyes for maximum cuteness. He keeps all the angles to a minimum here, even the insides of his ears are round, as oppossed to creating a point,as in Scribner's animation.

Duck Dodgers said...

That model sheet does was absolutely NOT used for "Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk" : too differences in styles.
It was made by McKimson shortly after the success of "A Wild Hare".

That's why there are not many differences between this model sheet and the first ones of Bugs.

Anonymous said...

I really like that turtle.

J Lee said...

The model sheet looks like it's from around the time of "The Heckling Hare" and/or "All This and Rabbit Stew".

Avery's opening scenes for "Tortoise Beats Hare" was the most self-aware characterization anyone in animation had ever done to that point, and was one of the things that helped bond Bugs with the theater audiences of 1941 in the way he did.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

I like the odd voice Bugs has in "Elmer's Pet Rabbit". There was just something funny to me about a rabbit having an average guy type voice. Was there a reason why Jones didn't use Blanc for this cartoon?

Jorge Garrido said...

Great post! Let's see here:

> The model sheet looks like it could have been used for Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk (by Friz Freleng c. 1943. Although I don't McKimson would have made a model sheet for Friz at this time. Oh well, this is jut a wild gues on my part.

Nah, Gerry Chinquy's Bugs was used in that cartoon. Friz's Bugs always looked kind of weird in his face. To me it looks like that McKimson model sheet is used in Wabbit Twouble

Chuck's Bugs' eyes go past his cheek area. Tex's come to a point. Different coloured gloves. Tex's Bugs had an angle on the vertical area between hsi eyes. I noticed all this when I drew this round headed looking Bugs chracter for my cartoon in Gr. 11 media arts class last year, "Hare Meets Terrorist"

I LOVE RAbbit Trasnit. Bugs both wins and loses in that cartoon. They keep switching! It wasn't down to earth, either, they raced in rockets and all kinds of things all the way to Chicago! Go watch it!

> Actually, didn't the model sheet say "Bug's Bunny"? indicating that someone believed he was Bugs Hardaway's creation?

Thorson didn't know how to use apostrophes apparently. There are version of that model sheet with both "Bugs" and "Bug's" but it was for "Hare-um Scare-um" so it WAS Ben's Bunny.

Hey, that WAS Mel as Bugs in Elmer's Pet Rabbit. He just hadn't develoepd the voice yet. I love the contradiction in having Bugs HATE carrots and celery. I bet that's how Mel felt and he liked performing that scene! "I'LL STAVV BEFORE I EAT DEESE TINGS!" *munch munch munch* "YA HEAR ME? I'LL STAVV!" *munch munch munch*

I tend to dislike Chuck's charaterizations, or rather, I prefer other director's characterizations of the same characters, but one aspect of Chuck's that I love is hows short his Bugs was, as Robert Hume pointed out. When it comes to Bugs, I like Jones' shortness, Clampett's aggresiveness, Friz's quick thinking-ness, Avery's self awarness and innovation, and McKimson's meanness.

Jorge Garrido said...

My favourite Bugs designs are in Wacky Wabbit, Wabbit Twouble and in Avery's last Bugs. Jones' was more his own style (which lasted a long time, it's still being used in Hare Raising Hare, with those round eyes that go past the cheek) and Freleng's was a crude version of Avery's at first. Clampett always made his characters look better than anyone, so the period of his cartoons right before it became the Falling Hare version is my favourite. The round face I love, but The Wild Hare model sheet is too rat faced. Avery's last Bugs was also more refined in design so it was the good round face design. It had to evolve slightly, but not to the point of Falling Hare. McKimson was a genius.

That McKimson model sheet is definately from Wabbit Twouble and Wacky Wabbit. McKimson animated for Clampett at the time, and look at these screenshots from this site devoted to the evolution of Bugs:


The one from "The Hare Brained Hypnotist" looks awful. You can see a Spumco style character in my favourite frame of all time, the one for Wabbit Twouble with the Park Ranger. Now look at his cheeks. Look at the Bugs' cheeks for the Wabbit Twouble screenshots. Go watch "Bugs Bunny Bond Rally and look at the cheeks, how they push up too much. Type in "Wacky Wabbit" on Google Image search to get a small picture of Bug's cheeks in the cartoons. That's definately the same model sheet as the mystery McKimson one.

Ddi I ever mention that I love the fat Elmer cartoons? Especially in Clampett's three tries.

David Neuschulz said...

Just leaving a shout out to JohnK! Once, a long time ago, I came across a quote attributed to you that said something like "Cartoons (in the 80's) weren't being cartoons anymore. If you're not going to use the medium, why not just shoot it on film or video?" Or something like that. It was a bolt from the blue, man. It nailed the feeling of disgust I had while watching animation for years...and had no words to describe. I see that this blog is a long exposition and explosion of that single idea, and that's great. Keep up the good work, fighting the good fight, etc.

See ya in the funny papers.

Shawn said...

I liked it back when Bugs was smaller with shorter legs like in these early cartoons. It made his trickery even funnier because it seemed more like it was done by a devious little woodland creature. In the later Chuck Jones and Friz Freling cartoons, he's really tall and his legs are really long. I think he looks ugly when he's that tall.

But I also like how he looks in the Clampett cartoons with the longer ears, bigger eyes, and big feet. In those cartoons he looks more like some asshole hare from the desert instead of a bunny.

After Tex Avery did Tortoise Beats Hare (1941), Bob Clampett did his own take on that cartoon in Tortoise Wins by a Hare (1943), but he made it as if it were a sequal to Tex's cartoon. Then Friz Freling did Rabbit Transit (1947). I guess that makes these cartoons sort of a trilogy.

Out of the three of those cartoons, I like Bob Clampett's the best. The characters look really cool, and Bugs' acting is amazing! It's like he's some desperate, sleezy character in that cartoon, and his desperation and sleeziness makes him seem really pathetic and funny. The posing is also really extreme in that cartoon, which I love. And there's a whole gang of other rabbits in that cartoon too. They all look really cool, and each rabbit looks different. Clampett's cartoons are great when he has a million different characters running around, and they all look completely different from eachother. It's crazy!

Also, at the end of Tortoise Wins by a Hare, all the other rabbits pull out a gun and blow their own brains out! I've noticed Clampett did a few cartoons where the characters commit suicide. Do you think that was another one of his trademarks?

Oops! I've somehow gotten myself really off-topic here. I'm gonna go end it all...

mistercharlie said...

The difference is in the "line of action"
In the second pic, Bugs and the tortoise are dynamic, in the first it's just some picture.

See! I've been reading your lessons.

And thanks for them. So much. I'm a graphic designer who can't draw (not that it's hindering my success - what does that say about the industry?)

I've been reading your stuff for the last month. It's amazing. I'm even doing cartoons now (still, not animated). But whatever. You need to know how to make characters look like they are moving, whether they are or not.

Scott Simpson said...

Err hi. I'm doing a piece of Ren'n'Stimpy Fan-Art and want to show it to you when it's done Mr K. It's only to practise some painting. I'm a student!

How do I post it on your Blog site??

P.C. Unfunny said...

Nice post John, I noticed now how Jones kept Bugs as a cute little animal while Clampett and Avery made him a bit more brash in there designs. As for "Wabbit Twouble", I think it's a decent cartoon but Bugs comes off as too much of a jerk, harrasing Elmer Fudd for basically no reason. This surprises me that you like that cartoon when you very clearly stated that claimed how Bugs became "smug and serious" in the 1950's.

Jesse Oliver said...

Hi John

Thanks for posting up my all time favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons. I love drawing Tex Avery's Bugs Bunny. I really wish "Elmers Pet Rabbit" was on DVD! I noticed that Bob Clampett directed two of the fat Elmer Fudd cartoons and Friz Freleng directed the other two. Bob Clampett directed the best ones. I just love Bugs Bunny's voice in "Elmers Pet Rabbit". Are you gonna post some stuff about "All This And Rabbit Stew", "Heckling Hare" and "Hare Ribbin" one day?

your pal,

Jesse Oliver

Jesse Oliver said...

I just love Bugs Bunny's aditude in "Tortoise Beats Hare".

bryan chojnowski said...

Time to track down all my old Looney Tunes tapes to find these cartoons to watch again.

Hey, John. Are you going to be at the San Diego Comic Con this year? Katie said something about a APC DVD launch party there. I'd love to come by and say hello.

Ren & Stimpy Cels said...

Hey John -

So I came across this website that is selling Ren & Stimpy cels for big bucks (http://www.animationartgallery.com/arenandstimpy.html). Now while it seems that all of the cels are from the Games days (eeekk!), some of them are identified as being from the new Spike episodes - yet I don't recognize any of these scenes. What's up with that? Did you have anything to do with any of these cels? And are cels available from the new episodes, and if so, where could I buy one?


ren & stimpy cels said...

that link again was:

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I like the way Bugs look in "Bugs Bunny Gets The Boid" (1942). That's where he looks like the real Bugs Bunny, not the round-headed rabbit of Avery's cartoons, or the scruffier Given's model that shows up in Freleng's cartoons of the same year.

Elisson said...

Hare Ribbin' has been one of my favorites since my Snot-Nose Days, mainly owing to the presence of the dog, whose character was based on Bert Gordon's "Mad Russian."

It's rarely (if ever) shown uncut anymore, thanks to the trademark suicide by gun at the film's end.

Does anyone know whether the dog was voiced by Bert Gordon himself, or Mel Blanc doing a spot-on imitation?

Lord Turbine said...


I don't know if you watch Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block (wait, you've obviously seen it at least once, they showed Ripping Friends on it at one point... heh...), but recently, they showed a pilot for a new show in development called "Korgoth of Barbaria."

It's all done by hand.

And it's animation is AMAZING. Drop-dead GORGEOUS! Not as colorful as one would like, but then again, it's color matches its tone. It's a great looking show, excellently written, and thankfully, 20 episodes are already in production.

Take a look! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPXHI2h-K-M&search=Korgoth

Also, I'm really digging how Wally Man looks. It has a distinct feel to it that differs from SPUMCO's other work. Are you guys already putting a show bible together for it, or are you still developing the rough concepts?

Lord Turbine said...

Wait, let me fix that, turn it into a link...

Korgoth Clip.

There we go... really funny too...

JohnK said...

The main differences in style between the Chuck and Tex designs are:

Chuck's drawings are not quite as solidly constructed. They are still very good, just not quite as careful.
However, they are more angular and stylish. Chuck is setting himself apart early on as a stylist and an excellent one.

R said...

It beats me why they moved from the short 'animal' Bugs to the taller than Elmer 'human' Bugs.. They really lost something in his character there. He became too dominant, not so much a victim anymore.

JohnK said...

>>It beats me why they moved from the short 'animal' Bugs to the taller than Elmer 'human' Bugs.. They really lost something in his character there. He became too dominant, not so much a victim anymore.

I think he was a lot more dominant as the animal Bugs, wasn't he?

Later, he had to justify his bullying and he became a vengeful rabbit.In the early ones, he was just a prankster but he didn't wait to start trouble, he just got into it.

David Germain said...

They really lost something in his character there. He became too dominant, not so much a victim anymore.

Actually, that's one of the funny dynamics that makes the Bugs/Elmer relationship great. The one that's supposed to be dominant (Elmer the hunter) is reduced to a stammering idiot stooge while the one who's supposed to be docile (Bugs the prey) is the one who has complete control over the entire situation.
Do NOT look at the Bugs Bunny cartoons (or any other of the chase cartoons WB had) as a simple "I hope the good guy defeats the bad guy" type of thing. Consider them as a great comedy team from either the vaudeville circuit or wherever. That's the way Bugs & Elmer are depicted in What's Up, Doc? (by Robert McKimson c. 1950). I can just imagine both Sylvester and Tweety conferring with eachother before the scene starts:

Friz: Okay, boys, in this scene, Tweety, you're in your cage on that window ledge and Sylvester you want to catch him of course.

Sylvester: Hey, let's use routine #47.

Tweety: Of course, #47. It wowwed 'em in Windsor.

That's how I like to think of them.

R said...

"I think he was a lot more dominant as the animal Bugs, wasn't he?"

As a personality, yeah (prolly picked the wrong word)- I meant he was more dominant over other characters like Elmer- something about a big 'human' rabbit next to a short wimpy looking Elmer kinda ruined the set up for me- it looked too obvious that Bugs would be able to win. Like you say, he bacame more of a bully than a fighter.

R said...

Oh, hey, John- whenever I do links they don't seem to work, but I'll try anyway-

Here's a pic of Bugs I did recently for ya to gander at-


And that dang Duck-


Anonymous said...

But it was funnier when he was shorter! Chuck said they always had to have someone attack Bugs (usually three times) in order for us to sympathize with him, but in the old cartoons, we sympathized with him simply by virtue of the fact that he was so small. He didn't need to be attacked, he could just heckle idiots and you still rooted for him. Chuck said he was a counter-revolutionary, not a revolutionary, but Bugs wasn't trying to create revolution, he was just having fun!

Jorge Garrido said...

^BTW that was me.

Hey, that Korgoth show was made by Spumco epmloyee Aaron Springer, who worked on Spongebob. Bill Wray does backgrounds. It looks sick!

Lord Turbine said...

^I didn't know Aaron Springer was with SPUMCO! I knew he did Spongebob, but... huh! No wonder the show looks so great!

And yeah, I agree - Bugs was more dominant as animal Bugs. Animal Bugs was more of a prankster character who could sneak up to another character and just stare over him, just stand there looking over him, and seem more powerful than the character that he was standing over. With human Bugs, he looked more as an equal to other characters, where as animal Bugs, I can only presume, was supposed to look more important than other characters.

Anonymous said...

I always thought of the tortoise/hare shorts as a trilogy, rather than an original and two remakes, very few gags were re-used, as with Tick-Tock-Tuckered and it's predecessor, and Little Orphan Airdale and its remakes.

Anonymous said...

Is the next post going to be on Wabbit Twouble? I always thought that that cartoon was more along the lines of a cartoon Avery had a lot done on and Clampett finished.

Marv said...

Do you actually read all these comments?

David Germain said...

Is the next post going to be on Wabbit Twouble? I always thought that that cartoon was more along the lines of a cartoon Avery had a lot done on and Clampett finished.

Yes, either The Heckling Hare or Aviation Vacation are the last pure Tex Avery cartoons for the WB studio. The rest have a little bit of Bob Clampett in them. Thusly, some of the first cartoons Clampett did when he took over Tex's unit have a bit of Tex Avery in them. It was a tumultuous time for the studio.

I wonder what the first pure CLampett cartoon was in the new unit.

Anonymous said...

Err hi (again). I've done a piece of Ren'n'Stimpy Fan-Art and want to show it to you Mr K. It was only to practise some painting.

I'm a student!

How can I show it to you?


A conversation about the evolution of Bugs Bunny wouldn't be complete without Bugs' Bunny, the drawing that first suggested the personality that evolved. This is the calm, cool, and collected rabbit that was sure of himself, cocky, not going anywhere....the image can be seen here @ http://bugshardaway.blogspot.com/