Shrunken Cinema/Termite Terrace/Characters

From Eccentric Flower

Cartoons Listed by Character and Year

Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny's genesis was in 1938. He evolved from an unnamed antagonist rabbit in "Porky's Hare Hunt" who was basically a rabbit-shaped clone of the Daffy Duck of the time, just as the cartoon itself is basically a clone of "Porky's Duck Hunt." Four or five cartoons are considered to be "proto-Bugs" works, where the rabbit was evolving a distinct character. These are (in addition to "Hare Hunt") "Prest-O Change-O" (Jones, 1939), "Hare-um Scare-um" (Hardaway/Dalton, 1939), Elmer's Candid Camera (which also debuts the first Elmer to go by that name), and "Elmer's Pet Rabbit" (Jones, 1940), which has a proto-Bugs, but was released after "A Wild Hare" and had the Bugs Bunny name added on to capitalize on the success of the former. Tex Avery's 1940 "A Wild Hare" (sometimes shown with the title card "The Wild Hare") is generally considered to be the first example of Bugs Bunny more or less as we know him today.

This was still a considerably different Bugs - for one thing, at this stage of his evolution, the rule that "Bugs never causes trouble first" (but only goes on the attack after being antagonized or threatened) was not yet fully in force. This can be seen in Wabbit Twouble in 1941, where Bugs spends the whole cartoon picking on Elmer even though Elmer has done nothing to deserve it that we know of.

Bugs' name apparently comes from Ben "Bugs" Hardaway, the director of "Hare Hunt." The early model sheets for Bugs bore the description "Bugs' Bunny" (note the apostrophe). When it was decided the character had come far enough in the world to need a name, they just dropped the apostrophe, and the character became a bunny named Bugs (as opposed to a bunny belonging to Bugs).

Wikipedia's page on proto-Bugs

Daffy Duck

Elmer Fudd

The hapless Elmer J. Fudd appears to have evolved from a character known as "Egghead" (for physically, not intellectually descriptive reasons), introduced by Tex Avery in 1937's "Egghead Rides Again." His second appearance was in "Little Red Walking Hood," and his third was Daffy Duck and Egghead, the second Daffy Duck cartoon and the first where he is identified by that name. Subsequent Egghead appearances in 1938 were "The Isle of Pingo Pongo," "A-Lad-In Bagdad," and "A Feud There Was," which is notable to our evolutionary chart because he appears riding in on a scooter that says "Elmer Fudd, Peacemaker" on the side.

In 1939 Arthur Q. Bryan did his first voice work for Schlesinger, the voice of the dog Dan in "Dangerous Dan McFoo." This was the voice of Elmer Fudd, and in 1940 that voice was combined with Elmer/Egghead's then-appearance in Elmer's Candid Camera, making this essentially the first appearance of Elmer Fudd as we know him. Bryan was the only voice actor besides Mel Blanc to voice a recurring/star character, but got no billing for his work (see Sound for why).

The real genesis of the Elmer/Bugs relationship was in Tex Avery's 1940 "A Wild Hare," where Elmer appears in his hunting clothes for the first time, Bugs first says "What's up, Doc?" and in general their relationship is what it would be forever onward.

For a short time circa 1941, Elmer was drawn fat and with a notably red nose. One report says this was to make him more closely resemble Arthur Q. Bryan; another says that Bob Clampett thought fat characters were funny but wasn't allowed to draw Porky as fat as he had been in his original appearances, so he compensated with Elmer. Either way, the experiment did not stick. The "fat Elmer" cartoons are Wabbit Twouble, The Wacky Wabbit, The Wabbit Who Came to Supper, "Fresh Hare," and also the 90-second "Any Bonds Today?" short.

Wikipedia page on Elmer Fudd

Porky Pig

Sylvester

Poor Sylvester, who began life in 1945 as an unnamed cat in "Life With Feathers," has had three or four interesting roles, but mostly he has had to spend his career playing the villain - a role to which he is ill-suited since it's hard to believe this mild-mannered bumbler has a malicious bone in his body. In particular, he was pretty much doomed after Tweety Pie, the first cartoon which pitted him against Tweety the canary (and which was made over Ed Selzer's objections), won Warner its first ever Academy Award for Best Short Subject. After that Sylvester was doomed, and spent the rest of his life playing second fiddle badly to either the obnoxious bird or someone else, including a set of cartoons with Porky where he is only allowed to panic silently - the fall guy even in a marriage of second fiddles. Still, even these "evil mice" cartoons are better than virtually any cartoon where he appears opposite Tweety, who is possibly the most obnoxious character ever to emerge from the universe of Warner shorts. The fact that so many people absolutely love Tweety cartoons is, to me, a perfect example of that Robert Benchley quote: "This is why democracy will never be a success."

Sylvester's is the Mel Blanc voice closest to Blanc's actual speaking voice (just subtract the lisp). Take Sylvester's voice, go a little easier on the lisp, and speed it up in post-processing slightly, and you have Daffy Duck.

Tweety is not given his own category on this page, since one may have Sylvester without Tweety, but never (with the exception of three Clampett proto-Tweety cartoons) Tweety without Sylvester. If you wish to find the Tweety cartoons, they are noted in parentheses below - not that they're hard to guess from the titles.

Yosemite Sam

Wile E. Coyote

This category might as well have been labelled "Road Runner Cartoons," but I maintain that the actual star of those cartoons is the coyote, who also functions as an antagonist against Bugs Bunny from time to time. Besides, this way I can list the Sam-and-Ralph cartoons under this heading as well. (As far as I'm concerned, Ralph E. Wolf is a part played by Wile E. Coyote - just slip a little red greasepaint onto the nose and he's good to go. If Chuck Jones wanted me to distinguish the two, he shouldn't have used the same model sheet for both.)

The coyote, along with his perpetual dinner candidate the Road Runner, made his debut in 1948's Fast and Furry-ous, essentially fully-formed - see comments on that cartoon. The Sam-and-Ralph cartoons began with Don't Give Up the Sheep in 1953 - see comments there. The five cartoons where Wile E. is pitted against Bugs Bunny begin with Operation: Rabbit in 1951.

The coyote only speaks in cartoons that do not involve the Road Runner.

No Regulars

This includes Pepe le Pew cartoons. For comments on why see For Scent-imental Reasons.

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