The top characters of Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes cartoons belong to that highest echelon of pop culture icons: They’re recognizable to just about everyone. Bugs Buggy looms in the American conscience as largely as Elvis, Darth Vader or the Coca-Cola logo. So with “Overture: Looney Tunes Behind the Scenes,” the very specialized ToonSeum has scored an exhibit of very broad interest.
“They have true multi-generational appeal,” Executive Director Joe Wos says of the cadre of characters that includes Duffy Duck, Tweety Bird and other well-merchandised icons. “There are five-year-olds who love them as much as their grandparents do.”
“Overture,” which was shown previously at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, features a host of artifacts dating as far back as the 1930s, when the foundation of the franchise was set down in a series of animated shorts for movie theaters. Advertising material, comic-book art, draft-stage character designs and penciled artwork that acted as each cartoon’s bare bones will be on display. Wos is particularly excited to have the musical score sheets for the old cartoons, in which every action in every scene – every mocking smooch from Bugs Bunny or humiliating injury endured by Wile E. Coyote – is written above the corresponding musical note.
In addition to the famous favorites, the exhibit, which runs from Oct. 23 until the end of the year, brings back a few lesser known Looney Tunes names. Wos is planning a screening of cartoons featuring Snafu and Hook, characters seen in World War II-era training films for the U.S. Army and Navy, respectively.
What has made most Looney Tunes practically immortal? Wos explains that they were created at a time when theater-going grown-ups were the primary audience for cartoons. “Like all of the most successful [cartoon] characters, they weren’t made for kids; they were made for adults,” he says. “The kids who see them feel like they are being let in on something special.”
Writer: Nick Keppler
Source: Joe Wos, ToonSeum