NYCC2011: Classic Warner Brothers/Hanna-Barbera Blu-ray Panel Report
The Classic Warner Brothers/Hanna-Barbera panel hosted panelists Will Friedwald (writer of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: An Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons), Greg Ford (director of Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters and Blooper Bunny), David Levy (author and animator), and legendary independent animator Bill Plympton. They went on to mention that the Tom and Jerry Golden Collection, to be released to Blu-ray on October 25th, will cover the MGM years, and the series is intended to go in chronological order. Also mentioned was the fact that the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection will be numbered, and will contain fifty shorts. Then the audience was treated to a split screen comparison of the unmastered and remastered versions of a Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry short.
Greg Ford spoke about how the old shorts were unique in that they were art films, that the director got to spend more time with it and make it more personal than a big film from Pixar. A short was the vision of one man, and it’s even easier to differentiate the styles of these directors than many live-action ones. He went on to explain that back then the thinking was different. They didn’t have a set character yet, and there were many one-shots, like “One Froggy Evening.” When asked who their favorite director was, Bill Plympton mentioned that Bob Clampett and Tex Avery were his personal gods, as they took humor and images in a whole new direction, showing visuals Bill couldn’t even imagine. He went on to talk about the sex references the put into their shorts, and how heavily it influenced him. David Levy pointed out that these shorts have created such an impact that they gave animators a common language. One only needs to say “Wile E. Coyote drop” and everyone instantly knows what he’s talking about.
Will Friedwald began talking about the various kinds of music one can hear in Looney Tunes shorts, from classical to jazz. Ford compared Carl Stalling, the composer of the scores one hears in Looney Tunes shorts, to Stravinsky. Levy explained that Looney Tunes was Warner Brothers’ answer to Disney. The music moves at such a fast pace, something that you would’ve never heard in a Disney cartoon then. Will added that the music in the old WB shorts was never natural, but always artificial. It never tried to blend in, like Disney, and that’s what was so fun about it.
After everyone going through their favorite Looney Tune character (Bill’s was Daffy, everyone else’s was Bugs), they showed the Daffy Duck short “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.” Afterwards, someone mentioned the new Looney Tunes Show, to which Greg Ford responded, “It’s Chuck’s fear come to life. It’s animated radio.” He was quick to mention though that it’s good the Looney Tunes exist in some way, and television is a different medium, concluding “At least it’s not Loonatics.”