Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Bugs Bunny Show and cartoon packaging

The Bugs Bunny Show (Warner Brothers/ABC-TV 1960)

I love the way they presented cartoons in the 1960s. Cartoons would be bookended by rousing title songs and introduced by bumper animation between the story cartoons. This was a great way to present "old" cartoons but make them seem as if they were new and special.

The bumpers featured Bugs, Daffy and the gang talking directly to the audience. This made us feel like the characters were real and our close pals.

I don't know who came up with this format first but it's a brilliant concept. Was it Mighty Mouse Playhouse?

The other kind of classic cartoon format is the non-formatted "grab-bag" cartoon block. The syndication model. We used to watch "Cartoon Carnival and "Cartoon Party" and a million variations of these local TV packages. They would run classic cartoons, but mix together different studios and eras. The prints were usually pretty crummy too.

The effect of this sloppy packaging cued us in to the fact that these were "the old cartoons" and though many were entertaining, they didn't get the full impact of the packaged cartoon shows that seemed like they were specially-made . Syndicated cartoon shows seemed like they were bargain-basement leftovers. It didn't help that they would mix classic fully animated cartoons with super low-budget made-for-TV cartoons, like the Al Brodax Popeyes, Dodo, Hercules, Lippy The Lion and such.

When I was consulting for the early Cartoon Network, they had whole 3 hour blocks of "used-cartoons" like "Down Wit' Droopy D" and I explained my theory to them.

What I really wanted to do, was repackage the 40s Looney Tunes in a similar way that WB packaged the 50s Bugs and Daffy cartoons into the Bugs Bunny Show.

I wanted to make a new title sequence and bumpers, only in a style that would be a caricature of the Clampett-Avery 40s version of the characters.

The Bugs Bunny Show aired on Saturday afternoons at 5:00 when I grew up (sponsored by The Kraft Teddy Bears), and I always ate my TV Dinners and Salisbury Steaks on my Cartoon TV tray while laughing uproariously to Chuck, Friz and McKimson cartoons.

I wish they would go back and re-attach all the specially made bumpers and the original "This Is It" Theme song intro to the 50s Looney Tunes package and re-air them (and go back to the original un-remastered prints).

This kind of presentation does a lot to make kids think the cartoons are new and not recycled cartoons.

Hanna Barbera and many original TV cartoons also used this fun format.

They restored a few on this set and it's really fun way to watch cartoons.


Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

I've always wondered why they didn't do a version of the variety show for the 40's cartoons today ( I know why they didn't do it back then ).

Why didn't Cartoon Network let you do it, John?

- trevor.

PCUnfunny said...

I am so glad they restored the old bumpers on the Bugs Bunny show and the commericals. They were warm, appealing, and charming. I also loved the catch phrases for the commericals. Like "Start your day a little bit better" or "Drink Tang gang ! It's Tangiriffic !" Today's Looney Tunes commericals just stuff in the old cliches.

PCUnfunny said...

"I wanted to make a new title sequence and bumpers, only in a style that would be a caricature of the Clampett-Avery 40s version of the characters."

Oh that would have been awesome !

PCUnfunny said...

"I wanted to make a new title sequence and bumpers, only in a style that would be a caricature of the Clampett-Avery 40s version of the characters."

Oh that would have been awesome !

Roberto González said...

I'm fine with that format as long as it doesn't eat the original credits. I don't know about The Bugs Bunny Show, I think they never aired it in Spain, but some of those shows eat the credit title sequences which I usually enjoy a lot in some of the old cartoons. Of course it doesn't matter too much if you have already watched or have the cartoon taped or in dvd, but anyway.

It's a pitty they didn't use our suggestion, that would have been pretty interesting to watch.

Mattieshoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Booo Tooons Ltd. said...


All the Warner directors employed at the time made these interstitials and developed a hybrid style they could all draw in. There's times, though, when you can't help but realize, "Hey, those are Friz's drawings," or "That's Chuck alright".

I cringe whenever I look at new Looney Tunes designs, like those ones that adorn the packaging of the menus and DVD cover art, especially when they try to draw it in the old style.... they just don't get it.

Why don't they hire decent artists to do the work? Don't they realize collectors ( the people who primarily purchase these things ) get angry at them?

- trevor.

carlo guillot said...

Hi John.
I've ben waiting for this day about a year. Today I just finished a short film I've been working on, for like a year. It's my gift to you, my way to say THANKS A LOT for all the things you explain in this blog, for all the things you have made for animation. Sometimes I've thought that maybe you are not sure if all the lessons your give are taken seriously or not. Well, this is my way to tell you that your teaching has become to its fruition.
This is my gift for your Winsor Mc Cay awards. Hope you like it. Thanks again.

Oliver_A said...

I just love the bumpers in the early Ren & Stimpy episodes. A shame you didn't continue them in further episodes. Was this a deliberate choice, or didn't Nickelodeon like it?

Btw, living in Germany, this was also the way I first grew up with the Looney Tunes as a child. Watch from 1:31 on:

They composed a completely different title music, but used all the animation from the original Bugs Bunny show!

Btw, it is said that most of the show's bumpers have been either lost, or only been available as black/white syndication masters. What they put on the Looney Tunes DVD's is said to be the only surviving elements from the show.

The interesting part now is: the German version contains lots of bumpers which are NOT on the DVD. Dubbed of course, but the original animation nevertheless.

Mattieshoe said...

Boo toons:

And what's with the wierd poses?

Taz looks like a scholar.

Anonymous said...

Yup, salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and a little compartment of red goo or possibly, something trying to be cornbread...hehehe! Truth is, we were happy to eat it!
Didn't need satellite or cable - all the good shows were on TV for free.
Good times.

deadmanswill said...

Cartoon Network did something else that made me really mad! They used classic cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry for their channel advertising. Tom would be chasing Jerry in a totally new background done in flash or some other software. The BG looks like it was just made by consulting online tutorials on how to make glass buttons and shiny effects. It really made me want to pull my hair. Characters like Tom, Jerry, the Flintstones, Bugs and Daffy suited with nice handpainted backgrounds that had very nice pastel colors or great looking washed-out color appeal of the flintstones.

I hope future will bring us the day when the cartoon characters gain some free will and refuse to perform for greedy entrepreneurs or chase lousy animators down hand painted BGs and send them back into the 30's.

Hey that would be a nice concept! Just imagine a new-age cartoon channel director begging Daffy Duck to perform in his channel and Daffy refusing because his channel only features limited animation. Daffy would imitate limited animation to show what he meant. Then the angry Director waves his fist at Daffy and hires a lousy animator who doesn't even know the basics of animation.

The animator can at first have the upper hand. He simply erases the old Daffy and draws a very 'uncartoony' duck in his place. We can come up with umpteen gags each involving different body part and the way it animates.

Wait, I am getting more ideas! Daffy will hatch a wicked plan and will lure the animator. He proposes to the animator that if he follows Daffy back into his old cartoons, he would request the old time animators to teach the lousy guy some great methods to animate. Daffy can promise a get-rich-quick method because that is what today's most so called 'animators' are after.

The animator will follow him and Daffy will have a field day chasing the animator down old BGs and kicking his butt. Maybe we can even have Daffy call upon his favorite animator Clampett to 'correct' the new-age idiot. Clampett can make the new-age guy to dance to his tunes or get his butt kicked by Daffy. It would be great fun don't you think?

Hey, John, do you think it would be possible to do that kind of cartoon by one animator alone without studio support? I mean, if not with Daffy duck or Bugs, perhaps with cartoon character that looks as if it was from the 30's.

God, I wish I knew better animation to do this stuff. This has got me all excited and jumping! John, please do tell me what you thought of the concept!

Emmett said...

I hear that.

I have been watching the restored episodes of Huckleberry Hound, and trying desperately to find other bumpers from other Hanna Barbera shows. In a way, those bumpers are among my favorite parts of the show. They not only communicate with, but it makes the show travel from place to place in a very spontaneous way.

That's one of the things I admired in REN and STIMPY. The bumpers (such as Log and Powedered Toast Man) took the show into different atmospheres in such a small timeframe.

carlo guillot said...

Hi John
Sorry about my last comment, my link was broken
Here it is:
Hope you like it

Kris said...

I wasn't old enough to see the original Bugs Bunny Show, sadly. When I was finally old enough to remember it, it had become the Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show. The intro is less cool than the original (it was redone), but it still has the "This Is It!" theme song.

One of the broadcast networks had a library of Merrie Melodies, though, and ran them without packaging of any kind. These ran at about 7AM on weekdays. When I was little, before school age in the mid/late '80s, I would get up early to watch these cartoons and the old TV shows (like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie) that were running in the morning.

Timefishblue said...

Awesome cartoon, Carlo!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about down there, but on "Teletoon" up here in Canada we still have the "Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show".

Unfortunately they run the same cartoons alot and not neccesarily the best...mosty Chuck Jones which is great, and some McKimson, but alot of Friz, which is okay in short bursts but I can't do an hour of it. But when I was a little kid, I watched it with my dad every Saturday and was endlessly thrilled.

And yeah, I thought they were new too. It doesnt have bumpers though, just the "This is it" song. As a wee lad it annoyed me because I thought it was taking away from real cartoon time. The bumpers sound awesome though, if they were different every week.

Bitter Animator said...

They mixed up cartoons so much where I was, I never had any idea what I was watching as a kid. That Mickey Magician one was used as an intro for some Disney ones too.

Same with Mighty Mouse too. I had no idea why his outfit kept changing colours but it was just because they were throwing in every Mighty Mouse cartoon they had in random order.

It was rather confusing for my young brain.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Why do I get the feeling that the designers who put new Bugs and Daffy drawings all over Warners' merchandising aren't being paid much? I think they just have stock art that gets used, and re-used.

I saw a bunch of those drawings on the DVDs that were used during promotion for "Looney Tunes: Back In Action".

Shit, I'd do a great job for them, AND for free! So would many of us here.

- trevor.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Congradulations on winning your lifetime achievement award at the Annie's John!

Wish I coulda been there. Maybe next time.

Anyway, you deserve it!

- trevor.

Corey said...

I grew up an army brat. The military stations (all 2 of them) would run HB cartoons from 9 am up to noon. It wasn't part of anything syndicated I don't think, they just ran them. Pretty good deal for me

carlo guillot said...

Hi John
I guess you are busy right now receiving your award.
Well, I've just uploaded a better quality version of my short film. And I also put some frames, so you can watch it better. Hope to hear how you like it, and any other comments you want.

carlo guillot said...

Thanks timesfishblue for your comment.
Anyone can go to see my short film and leave a comment on my blog.

Philip Pignotti said...

Congrats on the Winsor McCay Award!
I was there tonight and wanted to introduce myself but didn't see you in the after party. loved your thank you, keep scratching...

Mattieshoe said...

by the way john, i was just going through my basement and dug up the Wild Cartoon Kingdom issue that featured your infamous review of Animaniacs.

I'm sorry if I constantly bring it up, but that was one of the Worst reviews I've ever read. you basically said it was a atrocity whilst giving us as little information about the actual cartoon as possible.

you've written about bad critics before, but at least they took the time to watch what they were reviewing.

It was essentially a hate letter to what you thought the show might be like.
Watch a segment like "the monkey song." seriously. type it up on youtube.I would love to hear an ACTUAL review written by one of my heroes.

monopezopoly said...

Hey John I just read you won a Winsor McCay Award at the Annies. CONGRATS

rodineisilveira said...

I remember clearly of this format from The Bugs Bunny Show, when was aired here in Brazil by Globo TV, between 1969 and 1972. I remember specially of the bumpers which brought the Chuck Jones' drawing style (specially Bugs with that cynical face, which's so characteristic on the Chuck's artwork). Chuck Jones is actually an animation legend.

TomH said...

Re: Bugs Bunny Show wraparounds -

Fascinating to get your opinion on this, John, though I politely disagree. Even as a kid I could tell that the newer material didn't fit the classic material. The classic stuff always seemed shoehorned into the story. That goes for the compilation movies and the TV specials too.

I preferred the syndicated Bugs Bunny programming because I (usually) got the complete thing - right down to the opening and closing titles. Also, the syndicated stuff was much less heavily censored than the Saturday morning shorts.

But I suppose the wraparounds did some have charm, and it's fun to get a different perspective on them. Thanks for sharing!

Take care,