Looney Tunes comics offered a different take on Bugs Bunny and other famous cartoon characters
Characters who rarely interacted in cartoons went on many adventures and the Road Runner had kids!
Comics have always been a popular way to expand fictional universes and continue telling stories using characters who originated in other mediums, usually on TV or in movies. In fact, many classic shows had comic book counterparts, including Gunsmoke, Adam-12 and The Twilight Zone.
Cartoons are perhaps the easiest thing to adapt into a comic strip because the character designs are already done. And with characters as popular as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, a Looney Tunes comic was a no-brainer.
But the thousands of classic Dell and Gold Key issues published from the 1940s to the 1980s that featured Bugs, Daffy, Porky and many more weren’t just rip-offs of the cartoons. They told their own unique stories, often in totally different ways than anything seen in animation.
The biggest immediate difference between the moving Looney Tunes characters onscreen and the one’s drawn in panels was the number of people featured. Once stars like Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Sylvester and Wile E. Coyote were established, the bulk of Warner Bros.’s animation efforts were focused on them. Directors also had their favorites and rarely worked outside of the characters they created or liked most.
But in the comic books, writers and artists used every conceivable character ever seen in a cartoon and invented new ones. Petunia Pig was a consistent presence in the comics, as was Beaky Buzzard.
The Looney Tunes characters on the page also interacted with each other in a wide variety of ways compared to those on the screen. It was not uncommon in the comic books to see Bugs and Porky, Bugs and Sylvester or Bugs, Porky and Sylvester all in the same story! There were also inspired combinations like the Tasmanian Devil vs. Foghorn Leghorn and Bugs Bunny with Porky, Elmer and Sniffles the mouse (in a story where they battle sentient shadows).
The dynamic of Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner through the desert was kept the same for the comics, but many featured three Road Runner kids who tagged along with their father. They also all spoke in rhyme.
Along with colorful comic books came a daily Bugs Bunny newspaper comic strip that ran for decades starting in the 1940s. With only a few panels to tell each story, the strip didn’t have the same wackiness or creativity seen in the comic books and cartoons. It often showed Bugs interacting with other characters in typical city surroundings with jokes centered around everyday life. In a franchise like Looney Tunes, something that normal seems strange.
Do you remember reading any Looney Tunes comics? Better yet, do you still have some in your collection?