The Warner Bros Studio

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					                       The Warner Bros Studio


Like so many others, Warner Bros. animation studio began its career emulating, and
stealing staff members from, Disney. However, in the mid 1930s, the Warners had
ousted their Disney-esque members and brought in new blood. This freshening-up
took Warner Bros. down a path all their own, creating character's like Daffy Duck to
Pepe LePew. By the 1940s, the Warner's passed Disney behind in shorts and began a
rule that ran the animation industry for over twenty years. The studios first
employees, Hugh Harmon, Isadore Freleng and Rudolf Ising all had roots in Disney,
and all left Disney about the same time. Each had expected a job with Universal to
help produce Oswald the Rabbit shorts, but Universal pulled the plug, leaving the
artists with no place to go.

In answer, the out of work animators formed their own company and went to work
creating cartoons. Their first production was "Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid", which they
pitched to a company called Pacific Art and Title, thereby finding a backer for their
ventures. The trio then signed a contract with Warner Bros. to produce a series named
                                         Looney Tunes, a parody of Disney's Silly
                                         Symphonies title. "Sinking in the Bathtub"
                                         was the first Looney Tune, created in 1930.
                                         The animation is about Bosko and his
                                         girlfriend Honey. Since the Warner Bros.
                                         entered this venture to promote their music,
                                         this first cartoon was simply used as a
                                         backdrop to the music. Altogether, this cartoon
                                         comes off as pleasantly entertaining, yet a
                                         direct take-off from Mickey and Minnie
Mouse. In addition, many of the gags are straight from other Disney produced
cartoons. Bosko became the main feature of the Warner Bros. animation studio's
endeavours for a few years. While never quite as popular as Mickey and Minnie,
Bosko and Honey held their own.

The studio's next launch was with another Mickey Mouse-like character. This time it
was a fox named Foxy, but he dissapeared from films after a few skits. Warner Bros.
then commisioned a monthly series, again with the intent to showcase their music.
                                      This time, the name of the series was to be
                                      Merrie Melodies. The cartoons produced for
                                      this series were well recieved, but lacked any
                                      real staying power. Throughout the next four
                                      years, the studio produced more of the same
                                      work, of which each piece, taken on its own, is
                                      good, but when taken as a whole, the pieces
                                      blend into one monotonous whole. Part of the
                                      problem was Hugh Harmon's incessent need to
                                      follow in Disney's footsteps. This,
                                      unfortunately, but not unpredictably, led to a
serious stagnation of creative talent. In essence, there was almost no forward progress
at the Warner Bros. studio during this time.

At this time, there became a rift between the animators and the higher-ups over
budget problems. As a result, the animators left, taking Bosko with them and Warner
Bros. hired new talent, such as Jack King and Tom Palmer. Friz Freleng eventually
returned to the fold, just in time to help revamp Palmer's animations, which had not
been approved by Warner Bros. To replace Bosko, the new crew inevented Buddy,
who basically amounted to a white Bosko in all aspects, accept Buddy had even less
of a personality. Chuck Jones, an in-betweener, moved up to animator during the
Buddy years, but he couldn't help Buddy, who eventually died two years later.

Freleng decided to focus on the Merrie Melodies, which didn't do so well, because
they were still mired in the creative stagnation of before. At this time, Tex Avery
joined the Warner Bros. staff. He, Jones and a few others were put into a group,
moved to a small shack on the Warner Bros. lot and given free reign to develop
something new and creative. What the group wound up creating was a whole new
style of cartoon design. "Gold Diggers of '49" was the first result of their efforts. In
this cartoon, a version of the current Porky the Pig gets introduced, and a new era was
                                         launched in Warner Bros. where cartoons were
                                         no longer just cute, but funny as well. A little
                                         while later, Jones and Clampett left for Ub
                                         Iwerks studio for a brief jaunt as a favor to
                                         Iwerk, but shortly returned back to Warner.

                                        Back on familiar ground, the pair began the
                                        production of new Porky Pig cartoons. They
                                        introduced a new method of showing speed in
                                        animation, one that hadn't been done anywhere
                                        before, not even at Disney. Avery also added
                                        the use of cartoon character interaction with the
animators, as he used at MGM studios. In addition to the new methods, two new
members were added to the crew: composer Carl W. Stalling and radio performer Mel
Blanc. Mel Blanc soon became the studio's leading voice expert and one of the main
reasons for a majority of the cartoon's successes. Porky the Pig took the role of
Warner Bros. main character as a fat young adult pig with a childlike innocence.
Porky also became the signature speaker of the studio's sign-off phrase "That's all,
folks!"

Through most of the 1930s, Porky reigned supreme. The
next characters to enter the scene were Daffy Duck and
Egghead. Daffy began his career in "Porky's Duck Hunt."
Daffy is portrayed as a rather insane duck whose main
role is to act, well, daffy. Sadly, Avery dropped Daffy to
focus on Egghead, a human like character who later
eveloved into Elmer Fudd. Daffy was later revived to
partner Porky in the cartoons. The two are the main
characters in "You Ought to be in Pictures" which
combines live action footage with animation. At the same
time, Jones was working on "Tom Thumb in Trouble"
and"Joe Glow the Firefly", both pieces about tiny characters. Also at the same time,
another character, Bugs Bunny was entering the Warner Bros. realm with his first
appearance in "Porky's Hare Hunt." He, like Daffy, began as a total nutcase who
drove Porky crazy. The creation of Bugs Bunny is generally credited to Bugs
                                            Hardaway. Elmer Fudd arrived on the
                                            scene as a hunter of Bugs Bunny. In "A
                                            Wild Hare", Bugs finally gets refined
                                            into a more logical, less insane, but
                                            equally mischevious character. This
                                            cartoon sees the first time Bugs says his
                                            catch phrase "What's Up, Doc?" The
                                            early 1940's brings the development of
                                            Bugs, Daffy, Porky and Elmer and a
                                            refinement of the Warner Bros. style.

                                               Also in the early 1940s, Tex avery left
                                               the studio and Norman McCabe took
                                               over and produced a bunch of war time
                                               cartoons portraying Adolf Hitler and
                                               Moussilini with Looney Tunes as the
                                               main characters. By this time, Daffy and
                                               Bugs had taken over the studio and
                                               Porky was taking a back seat. In 1944,
the Warner Bros. studio, as it had always been loosely known, bought out Leon
Schliesinger, the original investor, and offcially became the Warner Bros. Studio.
However, the studio had little contact with their chief executive, Jack L. Warner or
any of the other brothers. In fact Jack couldn't even remember the name of anyone in
the studio.

At this time, the studio was releasing 26 cartoons a year. In the mid to late 1940s,
                                        Sylvestor the Cat and Tweety entered the scene
                                        through Clampett and Freleng. In fact, they were
                                        such a hit that they won an Academy Award.
                                        Concurrently, Chuck Jones was creating Pepe
                                        LePew
                                        and
                                        Robert
                                        McKinso
                                        n was
                                        creating
                                        Foghorn
                                        Leghorn,
the loud and brash rooster, Sylvestor's son, a
kangaroo named Hippety Hopper and the
Tasmanian Devil. In the mid-1940s Yosemite
Sam was created, as a foil to Bugs Bunny.
Between 1946 and 1956, Chuck Jones gained
recognition as one of Warner Bros. star
animators. He was quickly joined by Michael
Maltese, a terrific writer. During this time, some of the best Bugs Bunny and Daffy
Duck work was produced. "Duck Amuck" is an unusually creative piece in which
Daffy is constantly trying to keep up with changing scenery and plots, as well as
being erased. Marvin the Martion is introduced in 1953.

In 1948, Jones initiated the Road Runner series, pitting Wile E. Coyote agaisnt the
Road Runner. This series was different from the others in that there is no dialogue and
the location was always in the desert. Until Warner's closed the studio in late 1953,
                                  the animators continued to pump out a plethora of
                                  engaging characters and entertaining cartoons.

                                   In 1953, the Warner's closed the studio predicting
                                   that 3D cartoons would soon take over the market
                                   and they could not afford the expense of producing
                                   3D. The majority of the staff was laid off, Chuck
                                   Jones even worked at Disney, until four months
                                   later when Warner decided to reopen the
                                   department. Fortunatley, the 3D craze died down.

                                     The 1960s saw a decline in the quailty of the
                                     Warner Bros. studio animations. Stalling retired,
                                     Foster and Maltese left for Hanna Barbera. Bold,
                                     bright colors became the norm, often overwhelming
                                     the characters. The large orchestra score was now a
                                     thing of the past. In an attempt to add life back into
                                     the studio, Jones and Freleng introduced the "Bugs
                                     Bunny Show." Even though
                                     this helped bring back some
zest, it failed to bring back the entertainment value of its
predecessors. Warner's last years of production are dragged
down by weariness and dullness. New ideas and characters
basically ceased.

When Warner Bros. finally closed the door on its cartoon
studio, everything that had once made the studio so ethralling
was long since petered out. However, this was not the death of
Warner Bros. animation. Freleng and a Warner Bros. executive
leased the studio to start their own business. Within a year,
another Warner executive decided it would be a good idea to
reopen their cartoon department. Now, they hired the company
run by Freleng in their old studio on the Warner Bros. lot to produce cartoons for
them. This new endeavour produced more than 60 cartoons, all of which were pretty
bad. Road Runner and Daffy Duck were given new roles that didn't fit in with their
characters. Yet, despite the poor quality of the films, they did well enough for Warner
to reopen the studio under direct control of Warner and not the Freleng enterprise.

For a few years, the reopened studio put out some o.k. cartoons, but nothing
spectacular. In 1969, with no new talent joining the studio, Warner decided on a final
shutdown of the studio.

Maybe not.
In the late 1970s, Warner Bros. brought the cartoon studio back to life, giving Chuck
Jones permission to bring the Looney Tunes characters back to life. These new
cartoons were aired on prime tim t.v. and they did very well. Eventually new life was
given to the old characters and the cartoon studio was again a huge success with
Freleng, Blanc and Maltese back on the projects. Freleng retired in the mid-1980s and
various key players died, but the Warner Bros. animation studio was now here to stay,
and even expanding into the commercial markets.



                              Warner Bros. Animation



       This website was created by Sandra Singler (sand@viz.tamu.edu).

				
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