Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 5, 2004
In some respects, Daffy deserves top billing over his arch-rival, Bugs Bunny. To begin with, he has seniority over Bugs -- his first cartoon, Porky’s Duck Hunt (Avery, 1937) predates A Wild Hare (Avery, 1940) by some three years. Equally important, the little black duck has demonstrated an amazing range, thanks to the fact that he has been used by a wide variety of Warner Brothers directors. From the wild “whooo-hoo” hysteria of Bob Clampett in films such as The Daffy Doc (1938), to the shifty-eyed scheming of Chuck Jones best exemplified in the so-called “Hunter’s Trilogy”, ranging through countless superb Freleng, Tashlin and McKimson cartoons in-between, and even through some of Norm McCabe’s better shorts, Daffy has proven to be the most enduring character of the Warner Brothers cartoon studio. Avery may have actually created the character, but it was Clampett who made him unforgettable. Each of Daffy’s subsequent directors has further added to the complexity of the character.
His “thloppy” lisp is said to have been based on that of producer Leon Schlesinger, in an act of unusual daring and defiance by the Termite Terrace staff. Schlesinger, legend has it, not only failed to reconise the source, but actually enthused about “the funny voithe.”