Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 24, 2004
One of the most prominent symbols of World War II standing for “Victory”. Often used was the Morse Code for V: “... -” which, in turn, matched the rhythm of the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Another usage was associated with Churchill, who gave the sign with his fingers.
The symbol was in particularly heavily use in the United States during the early months of 1942, when American morale was battered by losses at Wake at Bataan and by Allied loses in North Africa, Hong Kong, the Dutch East Indies, Malaysia and Singapore. The cartoons produced for Warner Brothers reflected this, particularly in the admonition of Bugs Bunny for the audience to keep their thumbs up at the end of Crazy Cruise (Avery/Clampett, 1942), just before the iris out on the V formed by his ears. Similar examples appear in the V formed by the legs of the angelic (?) Nazi spy the Missing Lynx in Confusions of a Nutzy Spy (McCabe, 1942), and on the Bundles for Bluejackets sweater the title character in The Draft Horse (Jones, 1942) knits. Ding Dog Daddy (Freleng, 1942) has a scene in which the goofy dog, voiced by Vance “Pinto” Colvig, follows his inamorata, an iron dog -- the explanation is a bit complicated -- into an arms factory; the smokestacks billowing out V in Morse Code while Stalling plays Beethoven. The opening theme of the Fifth is also heard at the very end of Hare Brained Hypnotist (Freleng, 1942) when Bugs indicates that he is the B-19 bomber, and flies off to the airport. Elmer Fudd sings of V for Victory at the start of The Wacky Wabbit (Clampett, 1942).