Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 is Bustin' Loose All Over!

Happy New Year, folks!
My new Years resolution for 2009 (one of 'em) is shorter and more frequent posts.
I gotta say, waking up Jan 1 to a day of Looney Tunes on Cartoon Network was a pretty good start! (...and long overdue if you ask me.)

Especially since the closest Bugs and company have been to the airwaves in the last couple of years has been in new productions like the Duck Dodgers Show and the Tweety and Sylvester Mysteries on Boomerang (And yes, I'm forgetting the Baby Looney Tunes incarnation).

Just ten years ago The Looney Tunes characters (including and perhaps most notably Michigan J. Frog) seemed the cornerstone of the Time-Warner company. Every mall had a Warners store, and every Warners store had an "animation department" in the back that sold both limited-edition and production cels from Warners television and theatrical productions. Thanks in part to the aquisition of Cartoon Network at the end of the 1990s, for the first time in television history one channel would have the rights to show ANY cartoon from the Warner Cartoon canon (except for the dozen or so that they couldn't due to some outwageous steweotypes). Unfortunately this animation heyday was entirely too short-lived.

After 911 and the closing of the Warners stores it seemed interest in Bugs, Daffy -- and in fact, ALL "old product" characters started to wain (With the notable exception of Scooby Doo). There was a definite and conscious effort at CN to leave the past behind and develop new properties to mine.

The Looney interest level continued to diminish however, until a couple of years ago, when the theatrical shorts disappeared from the airwaves altogether -- only to be viewed online and in other high-pixal venues like YouTube. Even though MGM Tom and Jerry Cartoons (and on Boomerang a half-hour block just called "MGM Cartoons") continue to run every few hours.

Oh these? They're pitch boards from Space Jam where the Mon-stars are trashing the Looneys.
The pin-holes prove these ideas were pinned up and part of the working movie storyboard for a period of time. The fact that they exist at all only serves to illustrate nicely the ongoing love-hate relationship Warners seems to have with it's own characters. I'm sure the old Warners cartoon directors woulda had a big larf at the idea that 50 years in the future the company that Jack Warner built would only air the competition's (MGM) cartoons on their (mostly) Cartoon TV Network.

Darned ironic -- That's all I'm sayin'.

Hopefully though, the CN New Years day Looney Tunes Marathon is a good sign for the future!

'Cause as Mark Evanier said almost a decade ago:

You can't kill these films.

They've sure tried. They've cut them and hidden them and traced them and chopped them into little pieces. Over and over, business-types have given up on Bugs; over and over, they've been proven wrong. Like Lazarus, Jason or even Bill Clinton, he keeps coming back, ever stronger. And always will.

The WB cartoons may be the most lucrative things ever put on celluloid. They returned their initial investments when they were first exhibited, and all the thousands of reruns since have yielded almost pure profit. That's not even looking at the billions (with a "b") grossed from toys and comics and other merchandise featuring Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety and the gang.

Hopefully 2009 is the year somebody up the ladder will "re-discover" this (yet again...).

I know the REAL Bugs and Elmer (photo circa 1987) would love to see it happen!

Big Thanks and a HAPPY NEW YEAR go out to J.D.S., Time Warner, Splash News and Mark Evanier!


Blogger Shotgun_Mario said...

oh, I fully agree with everything you said. I'm an animation student, and longtime 40's cartoon fan, and it's so saddening that neither Disney or Warner show their top of the industry cartoons anymore. The only place that I can get them in high quality is in their DVD sets that sell for quite a bit. Hopefully Cartoon Network will get a good rating review from everyone who watched the Looney Tunes marathon, and look into bringing back at least a once-weekly lineup for an hour or two. Then, if I really dream, maybe Disney will catch on and start to show all of their old Silly Symphonies and Mickey Mouse cartoons.... oh, but in the world of today of 'who can draw crapier looking cartoons' I highly doubt either of the series will ever see a return to television on a continual basis.

2:33 AM

Anonymous brian said...

My 7 and 3 year old will watch the Warner Collection on DVD before any other cartoon we have. OK, my son will pick Clone Wars, but for laughing, Bugs and Daffy win. I recently watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit again. The last time I saw it was at the theaters. I was blown away, again. Hopefully Bugs and gang will make a comeback this year.

4:08 PM

Blogger Pip said...

During the heyday of the '90's they even released CD with Carl M Starlings compositions for the Looney Tunes on it. They did 2 in fact.

Nice post, I miss those cartoons. They really won't ever get old, will they?

9:33 AM

Anonymous G Rajesh said...

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12:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that we can watch What's Opera, Doc? and Robin Hood Daffy and One Froggy Evening over and over? They're classics, that's why. Classics never get old. Cartoon Network needs to recognize this and to remember the fine animation that paved the way for its empire.

9:33 AM

Blogger surferjoe1 said...

Violent gag drawings by Rich Arons, 1996. I was there, snickering, when they were reviewed (not actually pitched) by various WB producers, who all just kind of looked nauseous. Only comment they provoked, by an exec, poking the worst of the images with his finger: "Oh, boy, I REALLY don't want to see this happen."

8:28 PM


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