That’s All, Folks! The Death of Looney Tunes

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It’s been discussed online a lot. The stable of Warner Bros. animation characters are shadows of their former selves. Every time there’s a new short released in theaters or a new series put on television with Bugs and Daffy it feels like someone using a corpse as a puppet. Maybe that’s a bit morbid, but honestly, the characters died with Chuck Jones. The last of their fathers passed away and with them went the soul of the characters.

I’m not saying that there aren’t talented writers and animators out there. Far from it. I think that if american “funny” cartoons are to survive then it’s time for new characters. For a little while there in the 90’s I thought we were starting to move on. Animaniacs was everything you liked about Looney Tunes with updated references, funny writing, and a fantastic voice cast but like everything else it got ruined when the executives and bean counters got involved.

Executives are the antithesis of the creative. They look at charts and graphs and clueless focus groups to determine, scientifically, what funny is. Yes, hitting a guy with a mallet is amusing, but what do the focus groups think? Is it marketable? Will children with ignorant parents emulate this? How many plush dolls will this sell? None of that has to do with comedy or enjoyment. Look at the movie Hancock if you want to see an example of a film constructed by executives and focus groups.

What we need are a group of creatives, put them in an isolate place, tell them to make something to entertain themselves, and give them relatively free reign. It worked for Termite Terrace and look what they produced.

That’s not to say that complete freedom is essential. Let’s take a look at John K. and the Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon Show for a second. Remember that? We watched the first episode on Spike and we stopped watching immediately. I think the world at large did. Adult and extreme humor doesn’t automatically equal funny. John K. had finally gotten control of his babies back and he ran it straight into the ground. That’s why I said relatively free reign. Some limits force you to be creative.

So what I’m really asking for is simple. Lay the old characters to rest and give us something new. Give us some funny cartoons again. Let the creatives create and don’t chain them down completely.

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1 Comment

  1. I have to admit that I agree with this article, however I do think “Looney Tunes: Back In Action” was the last truly outstanding Looney Tunes material. Anyway, I agree with your points. The thing that made those classic theatrical Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons so legendary, hilarious, timeless and get away with all kinds of comedy and jokes is the fact that the producer at Termite Terrace, Leon Schlesinger let the Termite Terrace animation legends such as Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert Clampett, Robert McKimson and Tex Avery have their own creative comedy freedom and they made them to entertain nobody else but themselves, and so they could get away with all kinds of violent slapstick comedy and jokes. The same can also be said about the MGM cartoon studio during that time when animation legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera created and directed their classic theatrical Tom and Jerry cartoons in the ’40s and ’50s. They got away with all kinds of violent slapstick comedy and jokes because the producer at that MGM cartoon studio Fred Quimby was the same type of producer as Leon Schlesinger; a do-nothing producer that let their animation legends have their own creative comedy freedom and entertain nobody else but themselves. They thought nothing of marketing.

    Therefore, like what you said, the Looney Tunes characters and Tom and Jerry characters should be left alone and not be rebooted at all. They have passed their prime and it’s time for new hilarious legendary cartoon characters. There needs to be a new group of creative people, put them in their own isolate place and make animated cartoons to entertain nobody else but themselves and have their own creative comedy freedom. They should also think nothing of marketing because like you said, none of that has to do with comedy or enjoyment. They should also make each director have their own unit as well, just like those TT animation directors had their own units and animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera had their own unit at MGM.

    I also want to admit that if a creative animation team like this is created, then I’d love to become a part of it because animation legends such as Chuck Jones and Tex Avery are the reason why I have been doing an Animation and Illustration Course at university and they have been big influences. Also, the classic theatrical ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons and classic theatrical ’40s and ’50s Tom and Jerry cartoons are my favourite cartoons because they’re legendary and hilarious.

    This guide also helps and is worth reading: http://johnkstuff.blogspot.co.uk/2007/03/how-to-do-shorts-program-using-logic.html

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