Monday, July 05, 2010

TV Comic - Six Of The Best: The Bugs Bunny Show

Bugs Bunny was the first classic cartoon star to have his own one-page comic strip in the UK's TV Comic, appearing in issue #896 on 15th February 1969 (and here's the front cover announcing the news):

The strip was published every week until mid-76, but reprints were published a couple of years later. A new set of comic strips were commissioned in early 1980, and would last until the comic's demise in mid-84. Throughout both runs, Bugs would share the limelight with a limited cast of Looney Tunes characters: Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Tweety, Granny, and Yosemite Sam (the TV Comic staff must have preferred the Friz Freleng cartoons). Sadly, other characters such as Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig never appeared in the British strips, but Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner would have their own adventures in the comic (they will appear on this blog shortly). Differences between the American strip, apart from the one-page format, was that Yosemite Sam was a lot more trigger-happy in the British version, and Tweety (more often than not) was referred to as a SHE!
This post will feature six cartoon strips from the first run (69-76). As you will see, the strips were drawn by five different artists within the six years, all with varying degrees of cartooning styles. This, unfortunately, made the cartoons suffer from not having a consistent look, as while some did have the capability of maintaining the classic look of the characters, others obviously struggled (especially when it comes to drawing Daffy Duck). Also, all of the strips were published only in black & white.
Below is the very first strip to be published. Unfortunately I'm not able to identify the artist, but most often would leave his initials on the strip as RM (could it be Robert McKimson? Well, it was a long shot, anyway). Nevertheless, judging by the artwork below, he certainly hit the ground running. Not only are the character designs more-or-less spot-on, but the layout and backgrounds were top-notch. Sadly, his tenure only lasted just over a year and a half, and would make way for another artist in November 1970:

Fortunately, Tom & Jerry artist Bill Titcombe would be the one to take over. Although his artistic style was more loose than the previous cartoonist, nevertheless he didn't do a bad job, being able to maintain the classic character designs whilst still retaining his individual style. His advantage is that he was able to add a bit more weight to the visual gags than his predecessor, and his backgrounds were a little-less cluttered. His tenure would only until January 1972, but he did return to spearhead the strip's 80's revival for a further two years. Below is from issue #1003 (6th March 1971):

The next artist to try his luck with this strip was Barry Glennard, who, apart from a couple short gaps in 1973, would have the longest tenure lasting until mid-75. As evident on the next strip (from issue #1073, 8th July 1972), his character designs are a little off, but would constantly refine the look of his strips during those few years (he would come up with three different Bugs designs):

During those short breaks in 1973, Pink Panther artist John McNulty would fill in for Glennard. Although his style suited the groovy cat, sadly it never suited the look of the LT characters. Bugs and Sylvester would both look a little "lanky" for my liking, and the less said about his Daffy Duck the better. However, he did come up with some great poses as shown below, from issue #1119 (26th May 1973). Also notice the title panel, which features Glennard's Bugs Mark 2:

Another Glennard cartoon, featuring his Bugs Mark 3. Notice the more loose artwork, which may indicate that tighter deadlines had to be met. Scanned from issue #1225 (7th June 1975), and was one of his last few strips:

TV Comic stalwart Bill Mevin took over drawing duties during the strip's last year. His previous work include comic strip versions of Doctor Who and Fireball XL5 (the latter of which he was recently interviewed on the latest R2 DVD set from Network), and throughout the 70's did the Popeye strips for TV Comic. Although he was more suited at adaptations of live-action shows, his drawing style made his Bugs strips appear to have the most freakiest artwork of them all! Having said that, with the addition of his love for exaggeration (especially the characters' poses), it actually gave the cartoons some zest! Below was published in issue #1250 on 29th November 1975:

Coming up next: Barney Bear.