As a child, one of my first exposures to cartoons were reruns of Looney Tunes on Cartoon Network. Those replays introduced me to the wonderful world of Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester & Tweety and many others. However, among all of the Looney Tunes that I’ve watched over the years, the laser disc compilation of Looney Tunes Curtain Calls was what solidified my love for that wascally wabbit and his buddies.
That laser disc was the first time I ever saw the One Froggy Evening, Rabbit of Seville, What’s Up, Doc? and What’s Opera, Doc? Every time I had the opportunity to dust off the disc and watch with my siblings was a great time. For those who don’t know what a laser disc looks like, here it is:
Anyway, that’s besides the point. This article is all about celebrating an animation icon known all over the world in Bugs Bunny. He is such a relatable character because he’s the everyman in the middle of everything. The character of Bugs was the little guy you just wanted to root for (most of the time). And to think he wasn’t even the original Looney Tune. That honor goes to Porky. Like what was said in the Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary panel at Comic-Con at Home, Bugs was actually part of the colored Merrie Melodies which was a side short to the main shorts which were featured in black and white.
During the 1940s, it was a big deal to have cartoons in color. I never fully appreciated colored cartoons until i saw old shorts like Steamboat Willie and Felix The Cat. What made me write this article was the fact that Bugs Bunny recently celebrated his 80th anniversary and because I just wanted to talk about cartoons in general.
Vivid Memories of Reruns
I don’t exactly know where I’m going with this article. I just wanted to share my love for Looney Tunes. Another of my favorite memories watching Looney Tunes was seeing all the reruns on Cartoon Network in the late 90s. CN was still a new channel at the time. There really wasn’t much original content to go around besides a select few shows such as Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo and Dexter’s Laboratory. The rest of the time slots were taken up by reruns of 80s and 90s cartoons such as The Centurions, Swat Kats and, of course, Scooby Doo.
My appreciation for Looney Tunes was molded by the constant reruns featured on Cartoon Network at the time and there was one short that stood out among the rest:
The concept of the short was simple. Make fun of sports and add a twist of classic Friz Freleng absurdity to the mix.
I’ll be honest and that I didn’t really get the jokes until I grew up. Many of the dirty jokes just went over my head but I still enjoyed the cartoon. There’s just something about the absurdity of the Freleng cartoons that make it so enjoyable and it’s difficult to explain.
Late Nights & Even More Reruns
I’ve been blessed to have been able to travel abroad and I’m very thankful for that. If it wasn’t for being exposed to international culture, I wouldn’t have discovered even more cartoons.
Staying up late due to jet lag helped me discover the work of Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and most of all Chuck Jones. One of the characters they all had a hand in was Bugs Bunny.
The Legacy of Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny is one of pop culture’s greatest icons. He may not be the first Looney Tunes character, but he’s so successful that he overshadows older WB characters such as Daffy Duck and Porky Pig.
You can see Bugs Bunny in tons of WB media. Whenever you see a Warner Animation title card from the 90s, chances are Bugs is on the intro. One of the few exceptions was Batman The Animated Series, but that’s because the creators wanted to keep the serious tone of the series.
Changing The Vernacular
The character of Bugs is so popular that it even changed the meaning of the word “Nimrod.”
Originally, Nimrod meant skillful hunter. The way Bugs used it however changed the meaning to describe a fool which in most cases was Elmer Fudd. Words aren’t the only thing that changed with Bugs Bunny. The voice of Bugs Bunny also plays a major part to his success.
Voices Over Time
Any animation fan would know that Mel Blanc, the legendary actor, was the voice of nearly every, single Looney Tune character of all time. His work inspired me to dabble into voiceover, but it was a tough task. Maybe I’ll revisit that field again one day.
After Mel Blanc’s passing there was a tough task to fill all those roles left by him. From another certified legend Billy West to current stars like Eric Bauza, many voice actors have continued the legacy left behind by Mr. Blanc and it’s wonderful to see the character continuing to strive even after all these years.
Into The Future
As Bugs Bunny celebrates 80 years of existence, the Looney Tunes are experiencing a revival with the arrival of HBO Max. Eric Bauza continues to play several roles he had already been playing prior such as Marvin The Martian and Tweety Bird. The biggest change was Bauza taking over the role of Bugs Bunny and I must say, he captures the spirit of Mel Blanc’s Bugs so well. From the snarky comments to the feelings of desperation when Bugs is losing his mind, Eric Bauza captures everything in excellent form. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Steven Maxwell Tan is co-founder of The Geeky Juans and its weekly podcast. He and Jude Cruz talk about their love for wrestling and video games along with a wide variety of episodes ranging from comics to cartoons and beyond. He’s a fan of Linkin Park, the Anaheim Ducks hockey team and comic books. You can read more of his geeky thoughts on Twitter @steviesaidyup.