First look at Looney Tunes characters

Cartoon fans are in for a treat: Bugs Bunny is in town for the holidays.

The famously cheeky rabbit and his friends are the subject of  “Overture: Looney Tunes Behind the Scenes” at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

Porky Pig and Tweety look blissfully content. Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn look ready for mischief. It’s hard to view the drawings without hearing the voice of Mel Blanc in your head.

“These really are living, breathing people and they have such great personalities,” says Andrew Farago, the museum’s curator. “You know how Bugs or Daffy are going to react in any given situation and you know it’s going to be funny.”

The exhibition, which includes more than 60 character designs, animation pencil art and other drawings, honors a pre-computer era when animators worked at a furious pace to turn out cartoon shorts in just six weeks.

While Disney impressed audiences with technological advancements and was the first to use full color, Warner Bros. concentrated on characters and humor, Farago says.

The Looney Tunes first appeared in the 1930s in the theaters before a Warner Bros. film. By the 1960s, Bugs Bunny had his own TV show.

Farago got the idea for the exhibit while writing “The Looney Tunes Treasury,” which was published in October. The children of some of Warner Bros.’ best animators loaned him pieces from their personal collections.

“This is the sort of thing you don’t see anywhere else,” Farago says.

What’s most interesting about the show is that it offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the animators worked. The preliminary sketches are done in pencil; the color, if there is any, is soft and muted. Without the inky black lines and vibrancy of a finished animation cell, it’s all about personality.

A drawing of Porky Pig by animator Robert McKimson includes notes on what colors to use. On a different wall is a sketch of Wile E. Coyote’s hand pouring out a box of bird seed.

 The drawings are quick, energetic and confident.

“They hired the best people and they put them to work,” Farago says. If you weren’t really skilled, you weren’t going to last.”

The show includes a drawing of Bugs Bunny posing as an animator sketching Daffy Duck — a gift to the museum from animator and director Chuck Jones. There’s also wonderful set of caricatures the artists drew of each other as well as of Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra and other celebrities of the day.

IF YOU GO

Overture: Looney Tunes Behind the Scenes


Where:
Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission St., San Francisco

When:
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays; closed Christmas and New Year’s Day; show closes May 15

Tickets:
$7 general, $5 seniors and students, $3 for children 6 to 12,  free for children 5 and under

Contact:
(415) 227-8666, cartoonart.org

artsentertainmentOther ArtsSan FranciscoTelevision

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

The San Francisco Giants celebrate team legend Willie Mays' 90th birthday before taking on the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park on May 7, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Willie Mays returns to the ballpark for a special birthday bash

Giants celebrate No. 24’s 90th in an intimate party for a few thousand friends

Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting has expanded the range of people who can request a gun violence restraining order against someone. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Use of gun violence restraining orders continues to rise

For the fourth year in a row, the number of gun violence… Continue reading

The Port of San Francisco, which controls much of the The City’s waterfront, faces potential layoffs due to a financial crisis caused by the pandemic. 
Steven Ho/
Special to S.F. Examiner
In a financial ‘crisis,’ SF Port officials lobby for stimulus funding

Looking to right their financial ship, Port of San Francisco officials are… Continue reading

Police Chief Bill Scott on Wednesday said a rebranding and reoganization of the former Gang Task Force amounts to “more than just the name change.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faced with surge in shootings, Chief Scott reenvisions SFPD’s Gang Task Force

New Community Violence Reduction Team adds officers with community-policing experience

Most Read