Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on January 30, 2004
Bugs is deserving of a Companion devoted solely to his exploits. Though he was not the studio’s first major star, he certainly was the character who, in the 1940s, made Warner Brothers the number one studio in short-subject animation, at least in terms of popularity. Bugs regularly won popularity polls throughout the 40s, 50s and 60s.
As discussed in the entry for Creation and Development, the question of who created Bugs is very complex. There are a number of contenders for the title of “Creator” of Bugs, including the directors J. B. “Bugs” Hardaway (after whom the character was named), Charles M. Jones, (Bugs is first identified by name onscreen in a Jones short, 1941’s Elmer’s Pet Rabbit) and Robert Clampett. The author follows the school of the thought that it was director Tex Avery in A Wild Hare (1940) who first put together the elements of design, movement, and characterization to form the rabbit we all know.
In spite of the many classic cartoons starring Bugs, he received very few Oscar nominations, and was eventually awarded only one. The nominated cartoons are A Wild Hare (Avery, 1940), Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt (Freleng, 1941), and Knighty Knight Bugs (Freleng, 1958). Only the last of these actually won.
The author recommends Joe Adamson’s Bugs Bunny: Fifty Years and Only One Grey Hare, an in-depth study of the character and his films. The book provides much fascinating information on the character, in far greater detail than is within the scope of this document. (The author does invite the reader to examine relevant entries, such as Cross-dressing.)