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Old Brew

Johnny Cupcakes goes Looney Tunes

Is this anyway to rebuild a brand? Hmmmm…. Could be!

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has entered into a licensing agreement with urban clothing designer Johnny Cupcakes to produce a line of limited edition T-shirts featuring the Looney Tunes characters. The new t-shirts will be available ($40 each) beginning this month at Johnny Cupcakes stores in LA, Boston and Hull, Mass as well as online. More info to come via the Johnny Cupcakes blog.

  • cnote

    Here’s a better idea; Warner Bros. should put money into making new Warner Bros. cartoon shorts maybe even with new Warner Bros characters instead of clothes

  • $40? That makes me feel better about the $20-$29 price tags on “Sita” T-shirts.

  • Frank D.

    Yeah, kids like expensive crap. Looks like WB got the better part of that deal.

    Never understood JC’s appeal. Never will.

  • Is it because I’m a cranky old guy or has anyone else never heard of Johnny Cupcakes.

  • Tom Heres

    JC is exactly the kind of kick in the ass the Looney brand needs. These characters are completely irrelevant today, and crying about wanting to turn the clock back and make theatrical shorts is not going to make them beloved and popular again. They need to be seen (by kids) as important and cool and retro-modern. This kind of thing goes very far indeed toward fixing the bugs in Bugs and company. Throw in some collector’s vinyl and let’s see what happens.

  • Jay Sabicer

    Well, you’re splash illustration says it in plain English: A half-baked collaboration! Of course, Hollywood was on it like white on rice. I am deeply saddened by the cheapening of such wonderful characters that have been with me since early childhood. What’s worse, it’s by the hand of untalented fashion ‘designers’ (are there any talented ones?). And the cruelest cut of all – $40 for a T-shirt? In the middle of the worst economic period in modern history? Makes me wish the fires would come down off the mountains and burn Burbank to cinders.

  • i’m with Tom. And Campofiori, no you’re not alone.

    On a side note how would you feel about buying a shirt from my alter ego Jerry Falafelstien? Think I could get a deal reviving the 80s cartoon Jem or something?

  • a reader

    Not terribly impressed with Mr.”Cupcake”.

    Anyone remember Too Cute’s excellent line of WB and other cartoon clothes, sold on Melrose?

  • cnote,

    You may get your wish. There’s a new TV series with the LT characters in the works.

  • Done & done

    Here’s a better idea; Warner Bros. should put money into making new Warner Bros. cartoon shorts maybe even with new Warner Bros characters instead of clothes

    New Looney Toons are currently being done at WB by a super-talented crew.

  • 40 dollars… for a T-SHIRT???

  • stikkbomber

    1. I can BUY a good DVD (perhaps even several) of Looney Tunes shorts for less than $40. If done well enough, they’d last much longer than some t-shirt.

    2. Not overly impressed with the overall styles shown on the JC website. Using a cupcake in lieu of a skull is a bit passe for today’s tastes. Maybe I’m just old though, and to each his own.

    3. Can someone explain to me how producing a line of merchandise instead of a series of animation films/shorts is a better way to reboot an animation franchise? Given the supposed short attention span of folks today, short films would seem to be the single best way to restart the Looney Tunes.

  • I know

    LOL. You guys, yup, LT is coming back.

    I like the BGs in the new one. About it.

    I can’t wait to see what you people say when you see two of your favorite characters from the WB in CG (coming soon ;-)

  • Kyle Maloney

    Anyone have more info on the new Looney Tunes shorts and the talent behind them? That’s cool if they are indeed making new ones, my only concern is weather or not they will scream “flash animation”.

    I have nothing against flash, so long as they can hide it, but if it happened to be done the traditional way that would be more ideal.

    As for the topic, yeah these sound way too overpriced, even for six flags.

  • fanatic

    New Looney Toons are currently being done at WB by a super-talented crew.

    OH My God!!!!

    For TV???

    When? What? Why?

  • dr. giraud

    What a shame that Time Warner doesn’t have a cable channel where they could showcase classic Looney Tunes.

  • Jason

    This reminds me of a cool Oswald the Rabbit T-shirt I saw, but it was 30 dollars, so no freaking way!

    Ditto on 40 dollars for a Looney Tunes. I’ll stick with my cheap, worn-out Mickeys for now.

  • cartoon

    Let’s get some more details on the new Looney Tunes stuff!

    Theatrical shorts? New characters?

    or are we talkin’ Space Jam?

  • There’s a new series called “Bugs Bunny’s Laugh Riot” in production for CN.

    Groundlings comedians are writing it. We’ll see how good they do.

  • Penny for your thoughts, Warner:

    One hip new licensee is good news (even if it’s still only one). So is an upcoming new animated series.

    But it’s time to address a more serious problem. The decline of Looney Tunes over the past twelve years was due to giving ultimate control of the brand to people whose interests didn’t lie in exploiting it. If any of these new initiatives are to succeed, that’s what has to change.

    Let’s look at the primary Looney Tunes element: the cartoons. Many networks used to split up the rights to various packages of Looney Tunes. They competed for the packages as a means of competing with each other. As a major cable programmer, you had to have Bugs Bunny—and package/program him more successfully—simply to beat the other guy’s supply of Bugs Bunny.
    Then Warner consolidated all the shorts in one package and gave Cartoon Network an extended contract to take them all. This sounded good at first, but after a few years, CN had a problem: they saw auxiliary marketing revenue from running classic cartoons that they owned entirely (Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo), but they did not see this revenue from Looney Tunes, where the revenue went entirely to parent company Warner.
    This made Looney Tunes into CN’s competition even as they sat on the license. The more airtime Looney Tunes had was the less airtime CN had for its self-owned classic cartoons. The more shelf space in Wal-Mart was dominated by Looney Tunes merchandise, the less was available for Scooby merchandise.
    Suddenly CN had an impetus to run Looney Tunes less, not more, regardless of how well Looney Tunes rated. Since Warner was apparently as locked into the contract as CN was, there was nothing Warner could do—they’d given CN complete control, which they kept until the contract ran out (last January’s New Year’s show was a later, one-time deal).
    If another network had still possessed some part of the Looney Tunes package, CN might at least have been inspired to keep airing Looney Tunes just to compete with them. But by giving everything to CN, Warner eliminated CN’s need to be competitive.

    What other elements of the Looney Tunes brand are important? Comics were, once. Through 1984, Warner had an extended contract with Western Publishing. And through at least the 1970s, Western really milked that contract, giving individual comic book series to Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety, and Yosemite Sam. You didn’t see just one Warner title on the newsstand: you saw many.
    In the mid-1980s, Western fell apart for reasons unrelated to Looney Tunes. Several years later, Warner bought DC Comics. Warner decided that it would be best for their newly in-house comic company to take over Looney Tunes comics in Western’s absence, so effectively forced DC to take the license.
    But a CN-like situation asserted itself. As far as I understand it, DC sees the extra benefit of marketing revenue from its self-owned superhero characters. They see no such revenue from Looney Tunes, where the revenue once again flows straight to parent company Warner without a share for DC.
    So while Warner compelled DC to publish a Looney Tunes title that continues to this day, it took several years for them to get started, and DC has never published more than just the single LOONEY TUNES monthly book since that time. Why take that production time and shelf space away from superhero comics that bring DC two forms of revenue, rather than just one?

    Now Warner is stuck in a kind of negative loop. I’m sure they would like other TV networks to pick up the Looney Tunes package, but I can imagine there is a perception that the brand has been damaged severely by being absent from the airwaves and magazine racks for as long as it has.
    And Warner has nobody to blame, it would seem, but themselves. It seems to have been politically more pragmatic to let the company’s own subsidiaries damage the brand through neglect than to admit they weren’t giving the subsidiaries any incentive to nurture it.

    Of course, neglect is still one big step ahead of spite. As far as I can ascertain, Warner’s theatrical division undermarketed both LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION and CN’s POWERPUFF GIRLS MOVIE simply due to some suits’ belief that they couldn’t succeed. Hello, self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t advertise, they won’t come—but again, that seems to have been what some actively wanted, once more at the expense of the brand in the long run.

    Everyone wins their turf wars, but “Hey, there musta been some way I coulda LOST!”

  • samsam

    Here’s some promotional animated things made for Johnny Cupcakes by animator/illustrator Dave Schlafman. I think they are from a couple of years ago, but still entertaining.

  • Jason

    “Back in Action” was an excruciatingly unwatchable film. No amount of promotion would have helped it.

    I really don’t think the Looneys can be brought back. Every time it’s attempted, the results are so “off”. Either the cynicism is overemphasized, the voices don’t sound right, the characters’ personalities are too thin to be enjoyable, the comic timing is wonky, etc.
    It takes a *specific* sense of humor to recall the greatness of the original Looney Tunes, and a specific talent to be able to write for them. And all those talents are no longer with us. I wish WB would just let the characters rest. We don’t need another Tiny Toons.

  • Jason, I half-agree with you on BACK IN ACTION. I liked some aspects of it, didn’t like others. But that doesn’t mean Warner’s theatrical marketing arm shouldn’t have done their best to promote it.

    When your job is to market a product that is meant to drive and uphold a much larger company-wide initiative (the Looney Tunes as an evergreen property), you market the damn product. Even if—confidentially, it stinks.

  • Wow…… $40 tee-shirts. Jesus H.

    Yeah, I’m with the plan that WB needs to develop some new shorts… quality, not these half-ass, horrible train wrecks where even the characters sound awful. We can dream, I suppose……..

  • Kyle Maloney

    Jason, I think we still have that brand of talent with us, their just not being used. the execs arent picking the right writers. their hireing writers, not animators. (I’m assuming)

    And they need to stop trying to do the whole live action animation mix. it worked in roger rabbit, but it hasn’t been pulled off since really, and it puts them in too small of a box to work in.

    I think even if you used these same animators, and let them run the show we’d get some surprising results.

  • Joe Torcivia

    I would trade the ENTIRE Johnny Cupcakes line for Looney Tunes Golden Collection 7!

    What say the rest of you?

  • Autumn

    So….where is everyone hearing about this new LT show in the works?

  • Matt

    I never even heard of Johnny Cupcakes until this post, and having read the story on the site, I have to say I’m inspired by the success story. I see why the shirts are $40 dollars a piece now. Limited edition shirts that are collectible and won’t appear in any chain stores. Good move on WB’s part to promote Looney Tunes.

  • This much I can assure you: they will sell.

  • Being a business owner myself who makes shirts, etc..I admire JC’s success and have been following him for about 5 years now. He’s got a loyal fan base and has recently opened a store on Melrose (He’s based in Boston). He’s kinda the hip thing right now. So good for WB for recognizing that. It is inspiring for me to see *anyone* do that well for themselves.

  • Paul

    Tom and David called it right – for the most part, the Looney Tunes are completely irrelevant now, mostly due to the way they’ve been neglected for the past decade or so. This is a good way to start rectifying that, instead of sticking shorts in front of a random movie and hoping that somebody notices.


    Johnny Johnny Johnny

    You had a perfect little niche going on and you went and jumped the shark…You have way more trust in the government(CIA-Hollywood)then anyone who is conscious to the truth…Does the word DOPPELGANGER mean anything to you? It’s no joke bro…Good Luck