Like a lot of kids, I grew up watching Bugs Bunny. Saturday morning cartoons, Nilla wafer cookies with a tall glass of milk was my ritual every week. As an immigrant from the Soviet Bloc, cartoons didn’t require my English to be perfect. They were easy to understand, and fun to watch. Among them, one cartoon was better than all the others — Bugs Bunny.
And the animation was always superior than the terrible cartoons from the 1970s. Maybe it’s because Bugs has been around since the 1940s. One of the earliest Bugs Bunny cartoons I ever saw had to do with Bugs having been drafted into the US Army because of a spelling mistake on an envelope — B. Bonny. But he was proud to serve his country, reporting for duty, and doing the best he could, considering he didn’t have thumbs on account of him being a rabbit, and being totally clueless.
Even when he was clueless about his surroundings, Bugs Bunny was always smarter — more quick witted — than everyone who went against him. But, he was not great with directions. He dug quickly, tunneling a line in the dirt, but when he popped up, he always looked at his map, and said, “I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.”
Bugs always had a good time. He never rushed, he laughed often, and he was just a cute little rascal. But the second best thing about Bugs Bunny cartoons (after the animation) was the music they used. Operatic, classical music, used brilliantly to underscore the cartoon. There was nothing like watching TV and listening to The Barber of Seville by Rossini, and laughing my ass off as Elmer Fudd was chasing Bugs Bunny through a theater, and into the barber shop chair.
Most people don’t know the name Carl Stalling, but he was the man who spent 22 years working with a 50-piece orchestra at Warner Bros. Studios. He borrowed melodies from everyone, but said that 80 to 90 percent of the music he wrote was original because it had to be carefully timed to match the specific action on the screen. Whatever else he did, Mr. Stalling introduced a whole generation, and their children, to magnificent music. Many of us can remember by heart, the music that always played when the factory machines were in motion, or when chickens were scratching in the yard. I have loved classical music, even as a child, therefore the pleasure in watching and listening to Bugs Bunny cartoons was always doubled.
It was that “wascally wabbit” that made me want to become an animator, to create wonderful little worlds like a cozy rabbit home. I wasn’t a great artist, but I could look at, and sketch a picture put in front of me — and I still can. But the way to make fine art is to create, and there I wasn’t as talented nor tenacious. My talent became writing words. But drawing in a sketch book, and creating new scenes for animated characters is still a little hobby of mine. It still brings me joy to draw a cartoon character. That is something that I can draw a line directly to, the one and only, Bugs Bunny.