Friday, April 24, 2009

"That's Not All Folks"

I found a book recently that I'd heard of but never seen. It's titled, "That's Not All Folks" and was published by Warner Books in November of 1989. It was written by Mel Blanc and Philip Bashe.

The book offers a first person account of the evolution of the character Bugs Bunny, as witnessed and told by Blanc. Mel Blanc's testimony is particularly pertinent as a result of his involvement from the very beginning of the Warner Brothers/Schlessinger rabbit. As the sound was recorded after the story was written, but before the animation was created, there can be no denying that Blanc was an involved witness to the genesis of the character's personality.

I'd found several interviews, published in magazines and newspapers, wherein Blanc described both Hardaway's style of speech and the fact that he was the artist who "drew the first picture" The description Blanc offers in "That's not All Folks" is the strongest endorsement of Hardaway's contribution thus far.

Pages 84 through 89 describe the evolution and creation of the personality of the character.
"Happy Rabbit?" I exclaimed, nearly gagging while reading the script for Porky's Hare Hunt. "That's terrible," I said to Leon Schlessinger. "I Hate it."
"What would you suggest then, Mel?"
"Why not call him Bugs, after Ben Hardaway?" Hardaway had drawn him so it only seemed fair
...."Settling on a definitive characterization was a lot more difficult than selecting a name...
He goes on; "By the time A Wild Hare (1940), which is considered Bugs Bunny's debut, he'd obviously had some work done: His posture had improved, he'd shed some weight, and his overbite wasn't as pronounced. The most significant change, however, was in his facial expression. No longer just goofy, he was a sly-looking rascal. ""A tough little stinker, ain't he?" Hardaway remarked while admiring his portrait of the new Bugs.

"And the boisterous laugh I'd originally given him no longer fit. It was redeposited in my memory bank, to be withdrawn several years later for another Ben Hardaway creation: Woody Woodpecker"

Blanc's description of Hardaway's involvement coincides with the first person account of the history offered by Virgil Ross in the interview posted on this blog. The statements of three contemporaries of Hardaway (Virgil Ross, Mel Blanc, Robert McKimson) are also significant because they're crediting someone other than themselves. Such credit was very unusual within the culture of the animation industry at the time, as most directors and artists seemed to overstate their own contributions while diminishing the contributions of others.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kirk Mueller, Warner Brothers cartoon artist for nearly 20 years, comments on Bugs' Bunny

I emailed a photo of the drawing to Kirk Mueller.
Mr Mueller is an accomplished artist and performer who has an almost twenty year association with Warner Brothers. He is described on the ClampettsStudio website as, "a master of character illustration" and as having "an uncanny ability to step into the Looney Tunes characters...".
A simple Google search will list his many accolades.

Mr Mueller's email response from Nov 1st 2008 follows;

Yeah,Hi Chris...
Don't know how i missed your mail...
That's a pretty early arcane Hardaway rabbit alright -
Where'd you find that pic?!

I'm gonna run it by Ruth Clampett to get her take on it.
Her Dad Bob was no doubt embroiled with the Bugs Hardaway thing as he was also in on the early mix of the rabbit.
His personal office in Hollywood in the animation facility on Seward Street (now since changed hands) had a clay/plastic or some early modeling material Bugs prototype in a glass box on sitting on the oversized mantle of the moorish/spanish style room that he orchestrated "Beany and Cecil cartoons out of...
I'll get back to you next week...
Thanks Chris!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ray Pointer of Inkwell Images is a Liar

Ray Pointer's thinly veiled comments directed toward the hypothosis that I've furthered should be judged on their own merits.

Ray Pointer posted the following comments on the GAC Forum, "As for the thread on this over at The Animation Show, there was a "gentleman" in Seattle who called me to claim that a relative of his had designed the first BUGS BUNNY."

Perhaps Mr Pointer is confused or suffering from debilitating dementia as his assertion has no basis in reality. His comments are not only slanderous, but entirely incorrect. I've never claimed that any relative had any association with the subject.
I'm obliged to post the exchange between the two of us because Mr Pointer refuses to retract his erroneous comments.

Ray Pointer's original comments on the GAC FORUM,
"As for the thread on this over at The Animation Show, there was a "gentleman" in Seattle who called me to claim that a relative of his had designed the first BUGS BUNNY. I asked him to send me a scan of it so I could see. When I opened the Email and saw the scan, I told him that this was a generic drawing of a type of rabbit, but not a design that could be considered BUGS BUNNY. He was not content with the considerate response I gave him and posted a thread at both The Animation Show and here at GAC proposing his agenda that his relative designed the first BUGS BUNNY."

I responded to him via email because I'm banned from the forum that he frequents;

My response follows;
Hello Mr. Pointer,I understand that you're a well respected professional and as such I'm confident that your personal integrity demands accuracy.I certainly respect your right to disagree with my thoughts on the subject of the Hardaway drawing, but please don't ascribe statements to me that I've never made. Your mischaracterization of my argument makes it quite clear that you haven't really considered the possibility of its correctness.I've never said anything about any relative of mine having had anything to do with this drawing or with animation.I've never said that this was the first Warner Bros rabbit.I have said that I think this drawing is the drawing described in the encyclopedia Britannica , and by Virgil Ross by Mel Blanc in several interviews .My thoughts regarding the drawing are well reasoned and substantiated with references every step of the way.Please afford me the common courtesy of disagreeing with my actual statements, not imagined statements.

Mr Pointer responded;

Dear Sir,

You will notice that I made no direct reference to you, or used your name in the matter you describe. So you have not been "mischaracterized" or damaged in any way. Since it happened quite a while ago, I can only recall certain specifics of what happened since it was essentially a trivial issue that most everyone has forgotten about.

I have been, and am presently dealing with some far more important family issues that outweigh any petty arguments such as this. So you say I'm wrong. Fine. But the majority, including myself tried to diplomatically explain that you were mistaken in your concept, and gave you all of the reasons why. Your citing Encyclopedia Britannica and other sources that support your position does not make it so since these sources can be, and have on occasion been mistaken. This was not simply from me, but from other actual authorities on the subject, Jerry Beck being one of them.

Very sincerely yours,
Ray Pointer

Since the recent exchange, I've been excluded from Ray's email.