Skip to content

Bugs Bunny through the years – Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics #57, Bugs Bunny #65 & Bugs Bunny #161

November 16, 2010

Some properties translate well into comic form. Some don’t.

My youth — and many (most?) others’ — was infused with a steady diet of Looney Tunes cartoons. My grandfather, a confirmed technophile, had a VCR long before my parents shelled out for one, and he had a stack of VHS tapes onto which he’d recorded episode after episode after episode of Bugs Bunny cartoons for me (on the long-form EP setting, no less). I obliterated many a lazy afternoon with them.

You know what? Until this very moment I had never thought of how much work he had to put into that, to record all those cartoons for me, since the clunky first-run VCR he had didn’t have a timer on it, so he had to do it by hand. I don’t think it was self-centeredness that kept me from reflecting on that, just the usual youthful obliviousness. Thanks, Gramp. A bit belated, but maybe you’re up there reading this on some heavenly iPad.

Sorry for that digression. To get to my point, I recently bought a few old Bugs Bunny-centered comics, and, since they were all seperated by spans of decades, I thought it would be kind of fun to look at them and see if the comics depiction of Bugs and the stories within changed at all over the years.

Then I read them and had a change of plans. I’m just going to stick to the covers and skip the guts, with one illustrative exception that will show you why I’m doing that.

We start with the Golden Age, and Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics #57 from July 1946:

That Porky Pig — what a little devil.

Next up is one from the earliest days of the Silver Age, Bugs Bunny #65 from February/March 1959:

Just to give you an idea of my problem with Bugs Bunny stories translated to graphic form, here’s the very first page from this comic — see if you can spot the most glaring defect:

Where. The [expletive deleted]. Is Porky Pig’s. Stutter? It’s like Santa without a beard.

More on the interior problems in a sec.

Finally, to round out this brief survey, we have the Bronze Age, and Bugs Bunny #161 from January 1975:

My first thought when I saw this cover was “Why is Bugs smoking a light bulb?”

I know that I’m just presenting you with covers, but I think you can take two things away from them. First, about the only thing that changes about Bugs Bunny is the color of his gloves. Second, Bugs is never far away from carrots.

Now for the problems, and the dicey gripes about the quality of the stories on the inside. The characters and scenarios that they find themselves in are extraordinarily flat without Mel Blanc’s vocalizations and the musical accompaniment and sound effects. That’s plain even from that first page. Sylvester shows up in one of the stories and his spittley lisp is nowhere to be found, and even though Elmer Fudd’s speech impediment makes its way into the scripts in which he appears, reading it is a chore in much the same way that reading Bizarro-speak is. That’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t conundrum, but both paths are problems. You leave it out, it doesn’t sound right. You put it in, it’s a pain in the tuchus.

All this — no music, no sounds, no voices — kind of leads you to the inescapable conclusion that these things, though assuredly money-makers, just weren’t up to the quality of the source material. I understand that they were a way for kids to enjoy these characters at their leisure before the advent of YouTube, VCRs, or hell, TVs for that matter, but that doesn’t keep them from being substandard. There’s something, I don’t know, unworthy about them. I guess that’s as good a word as any.

There. Griping over.

To remind us all about how great the Bugs cartoons could be, and to keep this from ending on a sour note, here’s one of my favorite shorts of his — to this day, whenever a friend is getting a bit uppity, I lower my voice into my deepest baritone and break out the “Yoooooouuuuuur majesty…” line:

The parody of high-pressure real estate sales once flew way over my young head, but now it adds a whole other layer of amusement.

Stick to the cartoons. That’s all, folks.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2010 11:08 am

    Yep, despite obvious similarities in the medium, a lot of animation has made for poor comic books. I remember buying a Roadrunner comic around 1966 and thinking, “This has got to be great!” It turned out to be terrible. For starters Roadrunner talked. Probably necessary, but disconcerting, nonetheless. And he had a couple nieces and nephews, as well.

    An early lesson that licensed products aren’t always great.

    • November 19, 2010 12:15 am

      So long as the relatives weren’t named Huey, Louie and Dewey. I think another foul had dibs on those names.

  2. neill permalink
    November 17, 2010 5:50 pm

    Agreed. On the other hand, it was because of animation (Marvel Superheroes and the Aquaman/Superman hour) that I got interested in comics.

    • November 19, 2010 12:22 am

      The comics-to-TV/movies transition seems on its face to be a bit easier. But I seem to remember an interview with Alan Mooore talking about how stupid it was/is to adapt Watchmen into a film, and how comics are anything but cinematic. At first glance they have the look and feel of well-organized storyboards, but the story isn’t designed to flow without the viewers consent like a film. Instead the reader is allowed — and is supposed to — linger on certain panels, contemplate them, and perhaps flip back to earlier pages before moving on.

      I kind of went off the tracks here, but your comment reminded me of Moore’s observation. I thought it was interesting when I first read it.


  1. It’s all quiet here on the dark side of the moon – Marvel Super Special #3, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” « Blog into Mystery

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: