Bugs and His Friends

FTLComm - Tisdale - Saturday, February 23, 2002
As long as I can remember our family went to the movies, in the fifties that was the way things were in Saskatchewan towns and villages and in those pre-television days the movies were "one size fits all" kind of operations. Though different theatre operators had their own sequence every movie had about twenty minutes and sometimes more of preliminary stuff. They played the trailers for the up coming feature movies that were then called "previews", there was always at least one news reel often up to a year old but great black and white images of world events accompanied by very serious but outstanding voice over announcers. But everyone adults included felt a movie was a poor movie if it was not preceded by a cartoon.

The cartoons were mostly those produced by Warner Brothers and without a doubt the most popular were those with the "wascally wabbit" or the stuttering pig "porky". Unlike the pabulum that came out of Disney studios Warner Brothers had good guys and bad guys in their stories especially Bugs who was both hero and villain

These remarkable characters were as real to the audience as Humphrey Bogart or Vivian Leigh, in many ways even more so. Created from the work of a screen writer who worked out a story line, then brought to life by an animation artist and given voice by Mel Blanc. Of all the characters on the screen Bugs was as human and filled with human frailties as any real life character. Image a rabbit with a Brooklyn accent and a smart alec attitude who despite the stupid stunts he pulled always seemed to pull through in the end.

Animation allowed collaboration and a level of creativity that has become some of the most important work done in entertainment. This year for the first time the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science will issue Oscars for animated feature films rather than have them compete with those movies with live actors.

Chuck Jones during his long involvement with motion pictures earned three Academy Awards, a truly awesome achievement. He died last night in California at age eighty-nine and among many other things he went to work first for Disney then became involved with the creation of Bugs and the other Warner Brothers characters. Though we all know and can attempt an imitation of Mel Blanc who died some years ago, the voice of most of those characters, Chuck was a man whom most of us did not know about. Certainly the industry recognised his huge contribution to the art form but the general public was for the most part unaware of his achievements.

I love Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Porky the Pig they were as a real to me as any story book character and I and my generation were entertained and schooled by each of them and their quirky characteristics. Our thanks to Chuck Jones.
The Chuck Jones Official Web site
The background story to Porky the Pig
Today's New York Times tributeand history of Chuck Jones from which we borrowed Mr. Jones likeness for today's picture.