Friday, March 16, 2007

Good and Bad off-model from Warner's

50 years ago even bad cartoon art was good.This was a golden-age of off-model merchandise.

From 1970 on, off-model looked like this.
Look at the humans that this artist thought he was doing in the Looney Tunes style.

Off-model from the 50s looks better than on-model today.

Here's on-model from the 50s: Chuck Jones style
Here's almost on-model from 1947: Friz style
On-model today:

Old toys:

Modern toys:

Post 1970 WB art:

Pre 1970 art

So long, folks!


Anonymous said...

>> So long, Folks!

Your not stopping your Blog are you? I hope not. You were just getting to the juicy part of the animation process. I'll buy any old manuals that you may have about your cartoons and your inputs on making cartoons. Your information is very valuable.

Daniel R said...

Hmm, in the first 1970s era off model scan you posted, I didn't even notice the background characters because of the rather unsettling drawing of Bugs on the left. And I don't know how to react to the little stretchy plastic Sylvester towards the end.

I'm animating (or trying to) the Chuck Jones style Bugs Bunny at the moment as part of me degree coursework. It's damn difficult. I've always found animating WB characters tough, Bob Clampett's Daffy nearly killed me too. Maybe I'm stuck in the non-cartooning mindset or something, (Since I find it easier to animate more 'realistic' human characters) but there's something really tough about those WB characters

arty said...

Cartoon All-stars to the Rescue!

Sponsored by George Bush Senior.

I think that special actually drove children to do drugs rather than stay away from them.

Shawn said...

Haha! Yeah!

Today everything is so "on model" that it lacks any fun or individual creativity whatsoever. In the old days, WB characters had a Chuck Jones style, a McKimson style, a Clampett style, a Friz style...etc (even varied styles within those styles, such as the Scribner style, Melendez style, and so on..). So even the "off-model" versions of those styles in old toys and merchandise were different from eachother and still seemed to involve some sort of creativity. Today there are no varied styles of those characters. There's just a single "Looney Tunes" style, whatever the Hell that is. It's boring.

Who decided, "Hey! Starting now, this is how Bugs Bunny will look today and until the end of time"? Who made that current style? What style IS it, and why did they have to do that?

Anonymous said...

i hate how all animators use the exact same Bugs Bunny design that Chuck Jones used 55 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Is that last picture a screen capture from Space Jam?

Tougi said...

Yes! I love Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue! It really drives home a strong point about the dangers of drugs - if you take drugs you'll be subjected to the torment of being haunted by horrendously animated little abominations who sing inane songs and prance awkwardly about. Seriously, you're not going to find many people in your life who are opposed to drugs as I am, but when Baby Miss Piggy starts telling you that a good way to say no to drugs is telling your pushy friends, and I quote, "My hamster died," you know that the message being lost. Definitely something to look for, and, thanks to YouTube, it's very easy to find. Be sure not to miss the very important statement from the Bush family that prefaces the feature. It really drives home the effectiveness of Cartoon All-Stars to have an endorsement from a family that's managed to set such examples in staying drug-free.

Anonymous said...


erin said...

that bugs bunny costume is horriying

speaking of bad toys, here's one of mine from 1990.

Anonymous said...

Those Space Jam pics are eyeball rape. I hate that soft digital shading they use.

Ryan G. said...

I like the last one the best.

Anonymous said...

John,Why didn't you make fun of the "Queer Tweety" Merchandise that is seen in stores?

Kali Fontecchio said...

I love the puzzle the most. The colors and technique is fun to look at. Sylvester's design is almost more interesting! And is Yosemite Sam suddenly asian? Hooray!

New Bugs Bunny= vomithon.

JohnK said...

>>i hate how all animators use the exact same Bugs Bunny design that Chuck Jones used 55 years ago.<<

I don't know anyone who uses that design today.

That would be better than what they do use.

Tim said...

I wonder what Bugs would look like today if the process didn't get as screwy as it is right now. It's definitely a marvel that you can see the difference between '40s Bugs and '50s bugs, as opposed to the same old Bugs that's been around for 50+ years.

Tim said...

Erp, that isn't to say that he's a cryogenically frozen copy of classic-on-model Bugs, just that nobody's bothered evolving him, if anything they've tried devolving him.

Vince M. said...

The main reason for stiff, lifeless art is because everything has to pass a commitee of untalented, uninformed, un-schooled a-holes who wouldn't know a cartoon if it bit them on the ass.

Anonymous said...

LOL the worst is that new cartoon that comes on early saturday mOrning with bugs daffy AND TAZ AS OUTERSPACE SUPERHEROES IN "BATMAN BEYOND" COSTUMES AND silly mean faces!

Anonymous said...

Holy crap. I actually have one of those Kool Aid packets...I found them in a thrift store!

S.G.A said...

I think some good things are happening,.. I am noticing alot of artistsm going back discovering good stuff from the past..Maybe it's because people see guys like Biskup and baseman and when they see the stuff that inspired those guys they find out about this wealth of great old stuff.. Heck, I go through ebay and save photos of great old objects for my inspirato files,.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember artists doing some great merchandising stuff at WB in about '91--getting their designs back with all kinds of teeny details circled by "consumer products" anonymous people as "errors" (edge of Bugs' ruff, tip of ear etc.) with so much red-inked corrections demanded it was outrageous. They were pretty snotty about it, was UNreal, as the people calling the shots weren't artists at all--but they sure did have a style guide to hand, all printed up in a real, hardcover binder!

I suspect this went on just as much in the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

It's Realy Fucked-Up Seeing Tweety Acting Like a Faggot on New Merchandise.

Ted said...

Good recent Warner merch:

Charles said...

I may be insane but I love that Bugs on the Strawberry Kool-Aid wrapper with the messed up proportions.

Mr. Semaj said...

That Bugs on the trampoline looks creepy.

PCUnfunny said...

The character designs for the Looney Tunes today are horrible. They have stiff anatomy which dosen't allow for an good cartoony movement or expressions. They should be loose and fun, not stiff and boring.

Roberto González said...

I dislike the shading in both Space Jam and Back In Action, BUT I think Back In Action has a tad more coherent design style. I think it is quite clear in the end credits of the movie. Esentially during the end credits they show animatics that look better than the stuff in the movie cause they don't have that annoying shading, and because the animatics only shows LT and not that annoying real actors.

But yeah, what John said, it would be much better if they were actually using Jones' designs.

I love that Mc Kimson-style picture.

I find the majority of those toys quite ugly, though. Both the old and the new ones.

What do you think of these figures? I think they are quite good.

Anonymous said...

This is a bit off topic, but what the hell.

Hey John K, I find it amusing when you rip on poorly animated stuff and flat designs, and although I'm sure you don't need any new material, you may be interested in looking at these Zelda cutscenes:

ctd said...

I was told that pict of me in the bunny costume would never be made public.

Bimmi said...

Bendy Sylvester's prehensile cat-penis is going to give me some very bad dreams tonight.

The GagaMan(n) said...

AAAH! Bugs Bunny has eaten a child, and the child is trying to escape by eating through his neck! AHHH!

Yeah, most of the Looney Tunes merchandise is horrible, and for me even those old ones are pretty horrible, although they at least some some charm of some sort, and don't all look exactly the same. I do like those new Golden Collection action figures, and the Rich LaPierre designed greeting cards are gorgeous.

Ms. Jane D'oh said...

whoever invented that over airbrushed cartoon shadow should have to walk the plank.
i've seen many a good cartoon pitch ruined by unsubtle photoshop art direction.

:: smo :: said...

the thing that gets me is those menus on the golden collection dvds. here you've got a definitive collection of the greatest cartoons ever made...and the worst possible packaging to contain them.

and i think on the first set they've got a crappy little animation of bugs flying around...WHY IS HE FLYING? plus he looks like he's drawn by an 8 year old.

Timothy Merks said...

oh man that airbrush shading is awful! The worst is that super clean line work. It removes an artists individual style.

It is really interesting that amercian animation has very strict guidelines to keeping on model (simpsons for example) where as japanese animation over the last few years has gone in the completely opposite direction by letting individual animators almost draw completely different characters. They are allowed to draw and animate in their own style. (kemonozume probably the best example)

Anonymous said...

Why do Post-1970 non-Spumco Cartoons Suck so Bad?

Mebbo said...


At least the WB artists make an EFFORT to be on model(the validity of the model itself is purely a matter of opinion ^_-). I want to take every Disney publicity artist and line them up against the wall for what they do to the Disney characters.

Like the old WB art, at least old off-model Disney art had some charm and no Photoshop.

crsP said...

Oh, come on John Kricfalusi. You know you're doing a bit of manipulation here. Sure almost all the examples are correct, but why are all the 'Modern toys' example plush toys (and a child in a costume is not a toy)? And be honest, that 'Bugs' with the drum looks pretty bad-you probably only like it because it looks like he's threatening Tweety with his sheathed erect penis. And I wont insult the felt bugs, because you probably got it from a dear friend or relative (which they made in their pre-adolescence).

Anyway here's an illustration of some 'modern' cartoon characters done off model (intentionally). Not created by me I should add. You like?-->


mike f. said...

I don't know why it is, but it seems like the better the cartoons, the worse the merchandise looks - and vice-versa.
Historically, "bad" Looney Tunes art is almost redundant. With some exceptions, there's practically been no other kind - even during it's heyday in the 1940's.

I work at the Consumer Products division at Warner's, and I can verify the following: American licensees want Bugs to look smug, and licensing executives are eager to accommodate them. Whenever I give him a different expression, the artwork invariably gets changed.

It's especially frustrating because Bugs was such a fully-dimensional character, with a wide range of expression and nuance. If Bugs was REALLY only smug in the cartoons, we wouldn't be merchandising him at all - because no one would still be interested in him.

When I first got to WB, Daffy was almost always drawn angry. I said "He's DAFFY Duck, not ASSHOLE Duck!" This got me thrown out of the meeting - the beginning of a trend.

I refused to draw Daffy angry, and I think I finally won that fight. "Asshole" Duck has faded in recent years - but "Smug" Bunny refuses to go down quietly. The best we've ever been able to do is try to make it appealing AND smug - not always easy, or possible.

The European market has been inching back towards the Clampett look of the characters recently - I think that's partially due to my influence, actually, because those are the designs I use - but some American execs seem to think that look won't sell as well. They claim to have the figures to back it up.

They recently tried to turn Bugs into a Batman-like superhero called "The Black Carrot" (I kid you not!) I planted my heels and flat out refused to draw it. The concept was drawn by another hand, and died an ignominious death - but not before I was bounced from several more meetings. (As of this morning, I haven't been fired yet. I don't draw Baby Looney Tunes either)

I don't know whether to blame the public or the executives or the licensees - I have no figures to back up what I THINK would sell better, or what looks more appealing - at least to my eyes.

WB marketing created the "gay" Tweety recently, which I also refuse to draw, so they give it to an in-house Asian artist to do. I think he thinks that Tweety really is gay. Unfortunately, it sells like crazy! The worst stuff I've seen comes from South America.

John Pannozzi said...

"Who decided, "Hey! Starting now, this is how Bugs Bunny will look today and until the end of time"? Who made that current style? What style IS it, and why did they have to do that?"

I'm pretty sure it was Darrel Van Citters who did the modern designs for the Looney Tunes.

And I want to point that the merchandise for Back in Action had some very nice character designs that resembled the Clampett designs (and McKimson design for Taz).

Sean Worsham said...

I think it's funny that you posted Cartoon All-Stars to the rescue. :) I just posted that on the bulletin board on myspace over a week or so ago. The thing was so awful I wanted to take drugs rather than go through it again!

Kali Fontecchio said...

Hooray for blue Bugs Bunny soaky toy! And child man singing:

"Soaky soaks you clean
In oceans full of fun
Clean before you're done!
Soaky soaks you clean
And every girl and boy
Gets a toy when it's empty
When it's empty it's a toy!"

PCUnfunny said...

"I refused to draw Daffy angry, and I think I finally won that fight. "Asshole" Duck has faded in recent years - but "Smug" Bunny refuses to go down quietly. The best we've ever been able to do is try to make it appealing AND smug - not always easy, or possible."

I think you have won the fight over smug Bugs as well. Recently I have been seeing various LT products with the characters resembling the 1940s designs from Bob Clampett.

Here's the recent Bugs and Daffy T shirts:

Bugs Bunny

Daffy Duck

BrianMORANTE said...

As an avid reader of this blog, Mr. K I am outraged. How dare you post my drawing of bugs bunny (the last one) as crap! I demand justice.

Alan Smithee said...

This has been an issue with me for a LONG time.

Cartoons have gotten so obsessive about being 'on model' that everything just comes out looking anal-retentive.

You can tell by watching most cartoons these days that everyone working on them is repressed and miserable because they're trying so damned hard to get the circles in the eyes perfect.

Christ, what a waste of time and effort.

Cartoons used to be the 'rock and roll' of the art and film world... they were raw and unafraid.

Nowadays they all look like they were done by little old ladies with a paint-by-number kit.

Kevin W. Martinez said...

I think the modern designs reached their Nadir when WB put out their own DRAWING BOOK on how to draw in such crappy bland styles.

Jiohn, you should've put up some of the newer VHS and DVD Looney Tunes covers. You're never going to find a more concentrated source of crappiness than that.

BTW, has anyone seen those Hallmark Looney Tunes cards where Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety look like they came out of a Clampett cartoon. If if you don't like them, you've got to admit that they look tons better than that Space Jam and Baby Looney Tunes fluff.

K.Light said...

Fresh out of school in 1992 I got a job at a licensed T shirt companyin NYC. I was hired for my cartooning ability for their WB,Nickelodeon,Hanna Barbera,etc licenses. My first project was.. Ren and Stimpy!I kept trying to convince my boss to just get screen captures of those awesome gory closeups of gucky fingernails and Ren on the toilet and Stimpy in underwear... Funny, they never made those. They did make my "Log" shirt! For the first 3 years it was great to work on these characters and run wild and DRAW them. We would get corrections from the lincensor offices but, we had a lot of freedom and created a lot of cool shirts. Then something changed...and jaws of that style guide binder's clips clamped down on my throat and it just wasn't fun anymore. We were told to take one head put it on another body..don't change the hands... just dress them up like paper dolls. I hung in there until 1997. Then I left feeling like an art whore. I loved, I mean really loved these characters and for a long time after couldn't stand to see them. Now, Thank God for Boomerang and my 7 year old, I'm falling in love again. Having been so choked by the style guides, I actually see some poses as key frames when I watch modern WB cartoons, and it depresses me.

NateBear said...

That "bugs bunny" suit looks like totem pole from Mars (whihc i soverrun with spiders)

Raff said...

Those Kool Aid packs look so amazing. I wish I was in a world where I could see and buy something that looks and most probably tastes so fun-like and refreshing on a hot day.

Curse all this Photoshop madness - it's poisoning everything!!

Steve Carras said...

Hey, JohnK, good comments as always [as Phil hendrie's RC Collins caharcter might say]. I totally agree with your comment regarding your own boredom and inablity as drawing bland characters, that you're not able to do that stuff as you did in the 1970s.

Neither can I or would I, and I sure don't know, or don't think anyone does, know of anyone who WOULD draw animaiton so soulless willingly.

Re:Filmation--this regards the Archies. Glad you posted those magaqzxine covers..Betty and Veronica were rivals, for instance though neither the Filmation show nor even some of the comics, including a few covers you'd posted, would show this, but I'd love to have gone back in time, and to have the Betty and Veronica rivalry shown a lot, and keep the meddling suits--to paraphrase another rotten show--outta the way. Ah, but alas, by latge 60s, the time mentioned by me here, such was not to be. Also, good point JohnK., on Joe Barbera having the deceny to hate the same things [as REN woudl say!] as you did, regarding the shows's lack of quality in the sevneties.

Finally, MikeF, good to know you draw the Looney/Merrie charactera and that you foyght against the post 50s versions of the characters.[GAY tweety..UGH! Cranky Daffy..dougle UGH! BTW I TOO have seen those older style greeting cards!! When going to get a card for my teen niece's high school graduation, and she has a LOT more brains thna any animated teen character after Judy Jetson.]

delaconcepcion said...

I have a 1949 valentine card that has two rabbits that look like they were drawn by the same illustrator that drew Bugs Bunny at that time, except these are brown rabbits, not grey. It says Hallmark on the back and is copyrighted MCMXLIM (1949) to Hall Bros, Inc. Anyone have any thoughts?