Sunday, March 30, 2008

Loonatics Come to the WB - 3/05

Loonatics Come to the WB
by Scott Alan
March 4, 2005

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Animation has seen a trend of taking popular characters and making spin offs to cash in on their popularity, or to try and save a failing idea by making it "new" & "now". Most often the idea of miniature versions of the same characters seems to be a constant. Examples of this can be found in animation history with such shows as Muppet Babies, Flintstone Kids, A Pup Named Scooby Doo, etc., etc. Perhaps the largest source of this activity is Warner Brothers with such releases as Tiny Toon Adventures and Baby Looney Tunes. Well, now Warner is at it again.

They are not making the characters younger and cuter, after all "Fetal Looney Tunes" may just be a step in the wrong direction. No, this time the good folks at Warner are taking these classic characters that we grew up with and make them appealing to the new generation. While we watched "classic" Looney Tunes & Hanna-Barbera the kids today are hooked on such tv choices as Pokemon & Yu-Gi-Oh. Knowing this, is it any wonder then that the newest incarnation of Bugs and pals will be set in the future to capture this new market?

Yes, the new turn for Looney Tunes will be Loonatics. Warner Bros. has created angular, slightly menacing-looking versions of the classic Looney Tunes characters for its new series and set in the year 2772. Names for the new characters haven't been finalized, but they are likely to be derived from the originals: Buzz Bunny, for example. Each new character retains personality quirks of the original. The new Bugs, for example, will be the natural leader of the Loonatics' spaceship; the new Daffy will remain confident that he is the one who should be in charge. "The new series will have the same classic wit and wisdom, but we have to do it more in line with what kids are talking about today," says Sander Schwartz, president of Warner Bros. Animation. The plots are action-oriented, filled with chases and fights. Each character possesses a special crime-fighting power.

Amazing? I think so too. While such classics as the Muppets Pigs In Space may soar through the cosmos, Loonatics may well be "watership down" when fans of the classic series see this for the first time. Other people have used descriptive words like "terrifying" & "desecration." The mainstream press wonders what is wrong in Burbank. "Have our Looney Tunes taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque?" asks the Boston Herald. "Has Warner Bros. gone daffy?" speculates the New York Post. Even the staid Wall Street Journal (in its print edition) smothers Warners' PR hype with skeptical allusions to the studio's lousy track record with Looney Tunes "updates."

There is a picture here of what they all will look like just so you get the idea. What gets my interest more than the WB doing this is the controversy this has caused. I can't go into any social circle of artists or fans or even go online without hearing about this from someone eventually. Because I'm an artist and a fan I'm asked to comment on this a lot lately, and on first sight I'm against it all. I mean, just look at them!!!

Still, one could act as devil's advocate and say "Get a grip. You haven't even seen it yet." Many new ideas have looked rotten on the surface, but change my opinion 100% once I give them a chance. Once Loonatics debuts Saturday mornings this fall there will be plenty of opportunity for the the village hordes to storm the castle in a rage—or for the eating of crow. In the meantime, Warner Bros. has only released the concept and two pieces of artwork. That's a pretty slender basis on which to condemn the entire enterprise. Is it too much to ask that we (all of us who are Looney Tunes fans) keep our minds even slightly open?

Mind you, I'm not endorsing Loonatics or condemning fan skepticism-how can I, since I feel the same skepticism? However, as I'd mentioned before, the argument here intrigues me and I'm keen to hear the opinions of my fellow fans and professional artists. Do you think this is a good idea? Do you think the WB is on the right track? Do you think the anime craze has taken too hard of a strangle hold on the younger generation and is now choking out our classics? Or, contrariwise, do you see this as a boon to a dying market? Have the Looney Tunes run past their golden age of the 1940's & reached retirement age instead? I think there is much room for debate here, and I think it'd be fascinating to hear the points of view from the pros.

SO, I wanna hear it from all of you, my friends in the artistic community. What's your opinion of this "new look" to our beloved and familiar characters? I hope that you find the time to participate in my little survey, I really think your responses would be quite interesting. Send your thoughts & opinions to my e-mail address, or take the poll on the site below, then I'll tally your votes and opinions and I'll print the results in Penstuff next month!

What do you think of the new Loonatics?

Pretty cool
I'm waiting until the show comes out

Contact: Scott Alan

Not just toons, ScotttoonS! Visit to see the work of Scott Alan, performer and freelance cartoonist.

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