Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cartoon Roadrunner

The Cartoons Roadrunner is a series of Looney Tunes cartoons created by Chuck Jones for Warner Brothers. Chuck Jones once said of his most famous protagonist and antagonist that �Wile E. is my reality, Bugs Bunny is my goal.� He originally created the Cartoons Roadrunner as a parody of traditional �cat and mouse� cartoons which were increasingly popular at the time. The Roadrunner was voiced by Paul Julian who worked as a background painter.

The Cartoon Roadrunner shorts are very simple in their premise: the Roadrunner, a flightless cartoon bird is chased down the highways of the Southwestern United States by a hungry toon coyote, named Wile E. Despite numerous clever attempts, the coyote never catches or kills the Roadrunner and his entire elaborate schemes end up injuring himself in humorous instances of highly exaggerated cartoon slapstick violence. There is almost never any �spoken� communication, save the Roadrunner�s �beep beep� and the Roadrunner sticking out his tongue, but the two characters do sometimes communicate by holding up signs to each other, the audience, or the cartoonist. Another key element is that while Wile E. is the aggressor in the series, he and his hopelessly futile efforts are the focus of the audience�s sympathy as well as virtually all of the humor.

The desert scenery in the first two Cartoon Roadrunner cartoons, Fast and Furry-ous (1949) and Beep Beep(mid 1952) was designed by Robert Gribbroek and was quite realistic. In subsequent cartoons the scenery was designed by Maurice Noble and was far more abstract. Several different styles were used. In Going! Going! Gosh! (late1952) through Guided Muscle (late1955) the scenery was �semi-realistic� with an offwhite sky. A bright yellow sky made its debut in Gee Whizzzzz! (early1956) but was not used consistently until There They Go-Go-Go!, later in the same year.

In his book, Chuck Amuck, Chuck Jones explains some of the rules the writers and artists followed in making the Coyote-Cartoon Roadrunner series:
1. The Cartoon Roadrunner cannot harm the coyote except by going �beep beep!�
2. No outside force can harm the coyote- only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products.
3. The coyote can stop any time-if he were not a fanatic.
4. There may be no dialogue ever, except �beep beep�! The coyote may, however, speak to the audience through wooden signs that he holds up.
5. The Cartoon Roadrunner must stay on the road-otherwise, logically, he would not be called �roadrunner�.
6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters-the southwest American desert.
7. All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
8. Whenever possible, gravity should be made the coyote�s greatest enemy.
9. The coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
There was also a tenth and more unofficial rule:

The sympathy of the audience must lie with the coyote. The original Chuck Jones production productions ended in 1963 with the closing of the Warner Bros. animation studio. Shortly thereafter, Pink Panther co-creater David De Patie and Cartoon Roadrunner co-director Friz freleng formed DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and were commissioned to continue production of Cartoon Roadrunner .