Looney Muses

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Billy Collins, a former U.S. poet laureate, writes about his love for Warner Bros. Cartoons in today’s Wall Street Journal. This quote sums up the jist of the piece:

Bugs would do the impossible by jumping out of the frame and landing on the drawing board of the cartoonist who was at work creating him. This freedom to transcend the laws of basic physics, to hop around in time and space, and to skip from one dimension to another has long been a crucial aspect of imaginative poetry.

Collins life long enthusiasm for Looney Tunes is evident. The article has several nice illustrations, plugs for several essential reference books and a concise illustrated timeline of the golden age of Hollywood cartoons.


  • robert barker

    Popeye is not on the timeline? He’s ten times more important than Woody Woodpecker.

  • Nic Kramer

    Popeye is not on the timeline? He’s ten times more important than Woody Woodpecker.

    Sorry, doc, but Popeye was a comic strip character first (1929) and an animation star second.

  • PorkyMills

    I found the language of the article to be a little too pretentious and “academic” for the subject matter. Still, it’s good to see animation being covered in a publication like the WSJ.

  • Chuck R.

    A US poet Laureate is pretentious for writing about liking Looney Tunes?
    We’ll be sure to notify you when they appoint somebody who ruminates about Bazooka Joe. ;-)

  • http://www.awprunes.blogspot.com/ Larry Levine

    “Sorry, doc, but Popeye was a comic strip character first (1929) and an animation star second”

    Though people credit “The Three Little Pigs” as the birth of personality animation, Max Fleischer’s Popeye series was the first to have a continuing cast of well defined, character driven animated characters.

    Segar’s strip was brilliant, but most people know Popeye via the animated shorts.

  • Chuck R.

    “Though people credit “The Three Little Pigs” as the birth of personality animation…”

    That’s a new one on me. I thought we all agreed it was Gertie the Dinosaur. And didn’t Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop predate Popeye?

  • http://www.awprunes.blogspot.com/ Larry Levine

    “That’s a new one on me. I thought we all agreed it was Gertie the Dinosaur. And didn’t Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop predate Popeye?”

    Chuck R, another Chuck (with the last name Jones) stated numerous times that personality animation began with The Three Little Pigs.

    Gertie eating a tree & dancing isn’t personality animation but still groundbreaking for being the first ‘official’ animated cartoon. What exactly was B&W era Mickey Mouse’s characterization? Or Betty Boop’s? These characters were groundbreaking on many levels, but not in characterization. Disney’s first ongoing personality driven character was Donald Duck.

    Popeye’s distinct personality, way of speaking & body language elevated the animated cartoon to a higher level & clearly should have been noted on the timeline.

  • Chuck R.

    Gertie also cries and throws Jumbo in the lake despite McCay’s warnings. I won’t say it’s the first; I won’t say it’s the best, but that qualifies as personality in my book.

    Anyway, despite Chuck Jones’ endorsement for the pigs, It’s kinda silly to argue over when “true personality” emerged in animation. Kinda legalistic for such a reality-bending artform.