I found an artwork about 10 years ago. It is obviously hand drawn with india ink and watercolor on a thick artist board. I was immediately struck by the clean line and the quality of the work.
I own several original editorial and political cartoons and as I've done with those I began to research who would have created this work, when, and why.
I've come to the conclusion that this was drawn by Hardaway in the last quarter of 1938 or the first quarter of 1939. I'll spell out my reasoning and references over the course of the next few days, as time allows. I reason this to be the Hardaway drawing that inspired the calm, cool, and collected character that evolved. Still, the only major character named for its creator.
I have shared the picture with a few people involved with animation history. Most notably, Martha Sigall and I exchanged emails and spoke over the phone a few times. She agrees with my assesment. Martha is very friendly and easy to reach. I also shared it with Bob Hardaway, the son of Bugs, who told me, "it's definitely Bugs". The most virulent critic stated that the drawing bears no resemblence to any Warner Bros character past or present. (This from a person professing to be an expert with regard to early Warner Bros animation). He had apparently never seen the Hobo Gadget Band.