Mystery solved! Rich LaPierre, at Hallmark Cards, is the artist/designer of the new Looney Tunes greeting cards I’ve been raving about. He saw my earlier posts and contacted Cartoon Brew to give us some insight as to what he is up to.
A number of people told me I should check out the Cartoon Brew web site because my cards were featured on it.Warner Bros. has recently given their licensees a wider latitude in how we depict their characters. Actually, they’ve been GREAT to work with! I’ve wanted to utilize the early versions of the characters for years so as soon as the gate was open, I took off.I’ve always liked the 1943 model sheet of Bugs Bunny and Bob Clampett’s 1944 model sheet of Tweety so those two characters were easy.Porky was a challenge because his early depictions were all over the place. He fluctuated from being a cute child to an unappealingly obese… well, pig. I was inspired by some pictures in your own COMPLETE GUIDE on pages 82 and 100 and the ALI BABA BOUND picture on page 142 of Steve Schneider’s THAT’S ALL FOLKS. I thought that version of Porky was the most endearing. Poor Porky! He was once WB’s top star and now very few people like him. I thought he needed to go back to his glory days. This must be the right version because several people commented that they were pleasantly surprised that Porky could be cute. They never liked the later versions.Daffy was the hardest of all. At first I was drawn to the DAFFY DOC version because it is truly funny. However, I quickly realized that that depiction was very limiting in both personality and design. Then I created a version that is a hybrid of Clampett’s Daffy in PORKY’S DUCK HUNT and some of the old posters. That was working pretty well until I settled on a version from the early 40’s as seen on the samples I sent. Please forgive my Daffy indecision.I’ve been trying to stick to the four core characters: Bugs, Daffy, Tweety and Porky (with occasional appearances by Sylvester, Elmer Fudd and Petunia). I hope I will not be asked to create “antique” versions of others such as the Road Runner and Coyote, Pepe LePew or Lola Bunny.I’ve taken some liberties in an attempt to make these styles cohesive with one another. I made their hands a bit more antique-ish and gave them all a “drip” highlight in their eyes (to be different from Disney’s “pie eye” wedge). I try to ink or paint the characters in an old style by taking a cue from some of the artists who created the antique merchandise. They didn’t try to make their art look like animation cels. When they rendered a character (whether in ink or paint), they added details and line qualities that were not possible on cels. My goal has been to capture the very best of the antique animation and render them in the very best styles of the old merchandise. I’m NOT trying to be totally, historically accurate. I’m trying to create an appealing style with some level of authenticity. I am also bound by the fact that most consumers are not diehard animation fans. They may like the vintage characters but they still want bright, fresh colors on their greeting cards. Its a difficult balancing act.My favorite piece so far is the TA TA TOODLES card (above, at top). The cover is a fictitious Broadway-style poster with the “real” cast inside (click here to see the inside spread). I had the rare opportunity to both write and illustrate this card.Your web site leads me to believe there’s a number of people who like this older style. Hallmark does not have an entire line of vintage Merrie Melodies. After the initial success of the one-shot cards I did, Hallmark is experimenting with a few more to determine whether the initial cards were flukes or something people really want. Write to Hallmark and let them know your thoughts.
Thank you, Rich. I love what you are doing. Thank you for putting so much thought and care into your work.