A Kung-Fu Hippy From Gangster City

Oh. My. God. It’s like somebody is shitting on my eyes (via Tom) :

Hoping to breathe new life into its animated Looney Tunes franchise and prop up the WB television network’s slumping Kids’ WB line-up, Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. is planning to launch a new cartoon series this fall based on “re-imagined” versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tasmanian Devil, Lola Bunny, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.

Warner Bros. has created angular, slightly menacing-looking versions of the classic Looney Tunes characters for its new series, dubbed “Loonatics” and set in the year 2772. Names for the new characters haven’t been finalized, but they are likely to be derived from the originals: Buzz Bunny, for example. Each new character retains personality quirks of the original. The new Bugs, for example, will be the natural leader of the Loonatics’ spaceship; the new Daffy will remain confident that he is the one who should be in charge.

Brace yourselves for the picture everybody….


This reaction from Cartoon Brew pretty much says it all :

A friend last night made this perceptive comment about the new Looney Tunes-inspired TV series LOONATICS: “Warners has already desecrated these characters so many times, why the hell would anybody care at this point?” That pretty succinctly sums up how I feel about the new series.
[. . .]
That having been said, I’m still pissed about this project. But for a wholly different reason. Pissed, because for every misguided show like LOONATICS, we lose out (and Warner Bros. loses out) on discovering the next Chuck Jones, the next Bob Clampett, the next Tex Avery, the next individual who could be creating the Bugs Bunny’s and Daffy Duck’s of our generation. There are countless modern creators out there who have ideas…who have something to say…and it’s a slap in the face of every talented artist working in this business whenever a major animation studio chickens out like this. Shoving a tired rabbit down America’s throat for the umpteenth time will never reap WB the rewards of giving America a great new cartoon star, an honestly-created cartoon that speaks to our time and place. But why take risks, especially when you can be successful by playing it safe: successful like BABY LOONEY TUNES and its sweet ranking of 104th in children’s programming or LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION and that delectable $20.9 mil it accrued in North American box office receipts.

To display anger over LOONATICS means that Warner Bros. has won yet again. The executives love hearing affirmation that people still care about these characters; when somebody likes the cartoons enough to voice concern, they know their job is safe. It’s not like they’ve created any cartoon characters of their own that audiences actually give a fuck about. These classic characters are their lifeline to a weekly paycheck. So let me be the first to say to Warner Bros.: take Bugs and fuck him however many ways you want – make him anime, give him pants and a spongy complexion, pair him up with Snoop Dogg and produce a Broadway rap-musical…I just don’t care.

Somewhat along those same lines, my good friend Josh had this interesting question to those who are offended by X-treme Looney Tunes :

Not that I think that Loonaticz-X is a good idea or should be done, but when does a character gain folklore status? When is it okay to start reimagining, interpreting, adapting or whatever they want to call it.

Dracula was created in 1897 and has had many adaptations over the years and I think most everyone on this list is pretty keen on several of those interpretations.

Batman is even younger and I like both Frank Miller’s reimagining, as well as some of the countless other offshoots and adapations. With any of these characters there have been misses and hits.

My immediate thoughts are that Batman, Dracula, and (my favorite) Superman are more archetypes than characters at this point. Unlike Bugs Bunny, the characters above don’t really have much of a personality. For that reason, Adam West’s campy Batman, Bob Kane’s Shadow-inspired original, Frank Miller’s postmodern antihero, Tim Burton’s movies, and the Timm/Dini animated series can all exist side-by-side. Bugs Bunny, thanks to the brilliant voice-work of Mel Blanc, has a strong enough comic persona that the character should be held in the same regard as Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, or Groucho Marx.

Then again, Josh brings up an interesting point. At what point do characters graduate into the realm of folklore? When everyone who cared about the original dies or stops caring? Or does it just depend on the originality of the reinvented version?

26 thoughts on “A Kung-Fu Hippy From Gangster City

  1. Hey! Maybe we can “re-imagine” Jesus Christ now. He can get a short haircut, shave, get buff and go back to the homeland and really kick some ass for the glory of dad.

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  3. You bring up a good point in that fans can argue endlessly about whether Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee was the “definitive” Dracula but neither of them played that character for the 50 years that Mel Blanc played Bugs, Porky, Daffy, Tweety, Sylvester et al. Those characters have never recovered from his death.

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  5. To me, the greatest desecration of the golden age WB shorts was the way in which they were edited for Saturday morning TV.

    We’re in no danger of stifling the creativity of the next-gen Bob Clampett or Chuck Jones, because those talents would never in a million years come out of WB’s animation studio ennyhow. WB can continute shitting on the Looney Tunes franchise, and it won’t harm anything of value, other than some happy memories.

    Or to put it another way: It’s an totally outrageous new paradigm.

    (I’m fired, aren’t I?)

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  7. Bugs Bunny is our culture’s version of the Prankster, which is a mythological archetype–think Loki, some versions of Satan, etc. Bugs is the first reference point that pops into mind when someone is groping for a description of a person that is prankster, goof-off, mischievous, etc. So, I would say that it’s a tough call. The character is both a regular fictional character and folkloric.

  8. “Batman is even younger and I like both Frank Miller’s reimagining, as well as some of the countless other offshoots and adapations.”

    The difference is very clear to me… Frank Miller is an individual artist who gave his own interpretation of a character that has had a long history of re-interpretations. Lunatics is the product of marketing execs trying to prey on the trends of today. There is a HUGE difference there.

    For example- Compare something like Baz Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet, which was a re-interpretation of a classic as seen through the ideas of an artistic film-maker, to Deviln and Emmerich’s Godzilla, which was a re-interpretation of a classic through the hollywood-action-hack film-makers who had no respect for the original. Both films are re-interpretations that use modern trends and hipness… Both films have their faults and their merits. But they were done with completely different intentions. One: artistic and creative, and one: capitalistic and exploitive.

    I have no problem with re-interpretations of things… when done with the right intentions and the proper respect to the original vision they can be really great. But Lunaticz is a cynical exploitation of characters, by un-imaginative marketing execs, in an attempt to prey on the trends of children today. And all for a quick buck- not for any artistic reasons and definitely without any respect for the classics.

  9. It’s pretty much like any other remake. Which would you rather watch, or re-watch — His Girl Friday or Switching Channels?

    Bugs and his cohorts, as envisioned by Messrs. Jones, Freleng, Clampett, Blanc, Noble, Maltese et al. remain intact in the works of those august individuals. (Hey, some of those sucked too, gang. “Bugs’ Bonnets”, anyone??)

    Off topic, is it me or is “One Froggy Evening” maybe the greatest cartoon ever? Whenever I watch it, there’s always a small part of my brain that can’t help thinking “this time he’s gonna get that curtain open!” Of course, rationally I know he isn’t — viscerally, it hits me differently. That’s nothing less than great filmmaking. (Like the end of “North by Northwest” — I know Cary Grant is going to come out alright, but I always hunch up and lean forward.)

    Plus it’s eerie. It could be a “Twilight Zone” episode — Burgess Meredith would have to play the frog, though — only several years before “Twilight Zone” ever hit the air.

  10. Remember Animaniacs?

    Animaniacs was fucking awesome.

    Which would you rather watch — an original, creative variety cartoon like Animaniacs… or goddamn Looney Tunes turned into the Teen Titans?


    Oh yeah and whoever is responsible for that “Baby Looney Tunes” show should be shot. By whoever it was who created “Muppet Babies.”

  11. Let’s put WB’s reengineered cartoon charectors into the pentagon’s sanitized computer War Game. Then we’ll really have something.

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  13. I think WB is cutting costs by generating electricity off the spinning corpses of Chuck Jones, Mel Blanc, Tex Avery, Friz Freling, and all the rest of the great Warner animators. WB executives are pissing on my childhood.

  14. I’ve been out of the US cartoon world for a while (subtitled anime has saved me), so when someone mentioned _Baby Looney Toons_, I thought they were referring to _Tiny Toons_, or just joking. Nope, it really is that bad, isn’t it?

    Aside: one _Tazmania_ episode is called _Taz Babies_, and it’s a brillant rip on executives and yes-men. I doubt anyone who decided that _Baby Looney Toons_ was a good idea has ever seen it.

    But to the purpose. Bugs and company are long dead. They keep trying to reanimate (sorry!) their bodies, but there is no soul. Package up all of the cartoons, uncut, and use them as a history lesson, but for crying out loud, let them rest in peace!

    That said, even though it looks awful, a few interesting bits/episodes may come out of it. Talent, like a weed, has a way of poking its way out of a dung heap.

    “You know how to get next quarter’s bottom line up, don’t you? Just put your hands around Bugs’ neck and squeeze.”

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  16. Gawd, what a travesty.

    The thing is, Warner Bros. already had a property that captured the original Warner Bros. spirit, and it was the Animaniacs.

    The episode where Yakko, Wakko and Dot had to deal with Franklin Pumpfeather (voiced by Ben Stein), who talked endlessly until he left and then they missed him, is a minor classic as far as I’m concerned.

    This was funny, original characters, based loosely on the Warner Bros. zaniness, but yet completely original. So of course they had to can it and come up with this shite.


  17. “Loonateens will have all the wit of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons from the golden age,

    Instead of ‘What’s Up Doc’, we’ll be pushing ‘Whatever, dude’ as Lola Bunny’s catchphrase…”"

    That’s not wit, that’s conformity.

    I just bought the last of the Futurama series (awesome writing, decent animation) and I can’t figure out how animated cartoons got to where they are in such a short time.

  18. Im not a big fan of bugs bunny and the loony toons. but the new loony toons or whatever the new name is but it is well a stupid thing!

    laser vison is a littl over rated and dumb to.please take note of this.

  19. Why not make some new characters instead of desecrating Bugs’ grave and painting the corpse black? Oh for fuck’s sake. They’re shitting on the characters we all grew up with. Thank God Tex and Chuck aren’t alive to see this.

  20. What the fuck is going on here? Has the whole world gone mad? This is like shitting on the american flag, its like “re-designing” the statue of liberty and putting her in a halter top and mini-skirt, hand her a flashlight and a harry potter novel. what the fuck is wrong with these people??!!

  21. yo! Kaoz, you’v got a really good piont!!! like really, what the hell is there problem?!?!? the old one was pefectly fine!!!!!!!!!