Tuesday, July 07, 2009

At the 'Toon Factory of the Brothers Warner

Daffy Duck models from the MegaCollector's collection -- © Warner Bros.

I haven't been over to the Warners Ranch in ever so long, and this week I paid a visit to the animation studio housed in a three-story building and a gargantuan trailer. (Which is actually a bunch of interconnected big trailers that -- hooked together -- grow to the Big Family Size.) ...

The last couple of years, WBA has been a sleepy place to walk through, what with lots of empty cubicles and offices. But the emptiness was a by-product of not much work going on. The place had a super-hero series, a video project or two, and that was it.

That isn't the case now. The studio is currently hopping with three television series and seven direct-to-video projects in various stages of production.

There is Scooby Doo (now in its what? 73rd incarnation?). There is a new season of Batman. And there is the reboot of the Looney Tunes franchise with Laff Riot. As one of the Riot artists related:

"This show's going to give us over a year's worth of work. I've been freelancing for a while and it's good to be on staff again, gives me a chance to rebuild my investment losses.

"And if the show's good, maybe it'll be more than a year. The notes we got back on our first boards focused on weaker areas and were right to the point. That's encouraging. It's nice to get notes that make sense ..."

The word circulating around WBA is: "Hooray! Warners Animation is back from its deep sleep and going again!" and "We're glad to be working!"

That working thing. I hear a lot of that these days.

Not that it matters much, but this is TAG Blog's 2500th post ... 2501, here we come ...


Anonymous said...

Oh, lord, not another Looney Tunes revival. Hasn't enough damage been done?

Wiley207 said...

What is the matter with you?! This could be good, now that Sander Schwartz left the studio, since he really messed up Scooby-Doo, and was also responsible for "Baby Looney Tunes," "Loonatics Unleashed" and those awful 2003-2004 LT shorts that were never released.

Incidentally, I wonder if the sleepiness of the studio has to do with the Kids' WB ending and being replaced with the CW 4Kids? A lot of WB Animation shows had to be canceled as a result.

Charles... said...

Hey Mr. Anonymous work is good, and if you don't know didley, about the Looneytunes project then just shut yer yap. There's enough hot air in Burank with the Santa Ana's blowing through!!!!

Anonymous said...

Do you know what network the Looney Tunes show is for?

DifferentAnonymous said...

The new LT has some really talented artists on board; Early art looks really promising. I heard that it's primarily for the international market...?

Anonymous said...

I believe 'Laff Riot aka Looneytunes is slated for (believe it or not) Cartoon Network.

Anonymous said...

Yeah yeah, work for animators YAY! Even if the work is garbage and another blight on the sterling work of the past. Face it, the original Looney Tunes were created by a small group of people in a rarefied atmosphere. Throwing a bunch of nondescript freelancers together in hopes of creating the same alchemy is futile, as Space Jam, Back in Action, and Duck Dodgers painfully demonstrated. So go to it, but expect very little in return - AND YOU'LL DESERVE IT, because the Looney Tunes characters deserve better - and so do audiences.

TMNT Entity said...

Anonymous, I'll agree with you on quality-challeneged offerings such as Space Jam, Back in Action and Loonatics, but you thought Paul Dini's Duck Dodgers series was a "blight"?

Duck Dodgers was an incredibly clever series that paid the utmost respect to the spirit of the original shorts while still having its own unique flavor. I think it was the best piece of Looney Tunes-inspired media to come out in a very, very long time. If anybody knows how to write a good Looney Tunes-esque cartoon, it's Paul Dini, and he did some of his best work on that series.

Anonymous said...

It looks good, it's appealing, and it's a really good crew. Try not to judge things before you've seen it. Don't be a big animation jerk baby.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Mark, I did think "Dodgers" was a blight. Daffy was too much of a jerkass in it, rather than an still-likable egotistic bumbler as he was in the original theatrical shorts. Really, it's amazing how much Daffy's been messed up in general. In the newer stuff, he's either beaten up too much or he's so obnoxious he fails to be funny. "Dodgers" was at best surreal. But no way was it as funny as a Looney Tune. I realize that perhaps the way to revive the Looneys is not to imitate them, but the new interpretations are way off base IMO.

TMNT Entity said...

I actually liked Duck Dodgers' take on Daffy's personality; it was a nice compromise between his two very polarized portrayals from the classic shorts. A nice balance between his zany, carefree portrayal from the early shorts and his egomaniacal, scheming portrayal from the later shorts.

He was carefree and absent minded without being bouncy and "woo-hoo"ing, and he was a self-absorbed jerk without going into the "villain" territory a lot of his later shorts put him in (the Speedy Gonzalez ones, in particular).

It was a different kind of Daffy, but with a familiar feel that I really dug. I can see why some folks wouldn't appreciate the personality compromise, though.

I guess if Duck Dodgers had one fault, it's that it pit Daffy in a series with ongoing continuity and actual story arcs which...is a very strange place for a Looney Tunes character to be. The story arcs were well thought-out and still had an edge of silliness that kept them from taking themselves *too* seriously, but I suppose for a Looney Tunes character, anything of that sort is out of their element.

Going off on a bit of a rant about Duck Dodgers, I know, but I thought it was the strongest piece of Looney Tunes media to come out since the Speilberg stuff of the early 90s, which even then was only tangentially related to the classic stuff.

Unknown said...

A new Looney Tunes series will be appreciated: the characters need to be returned to the public eye before it is too late and they burr into obscurity. At the summer camp I work at, a lot of the young kids there have no idea who Yosemite Sam or Tweety are. This shall be a good addition to the Cartoon Network lineup and I hope it leaves up to the greatness of the original shorts. It better put butts in seats for a second season.

Thad said...

Negative Anonymous, I agree completely with you that the past Looney Tunes revivals have sucked man pickle, and that it's more than likely that this one will. (I mean, it's being written by Groundlings, what more do you need to know.) But keep two things in mind:

1- The characters were desecrated long ago by the old guard. That DePatie-Freleng/Format Films/Seven Arts horse shit has been mixed in with the good ones from the 1940s and 1950s forever, and have done more damage to the franchise and reputation than any new revivals (that won't be mixed in with the good ones) have done.

2 - It's work for decent people in hard times. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm only a voice over on this project and accidently tripped onto this blog, but I'm seeing a bit of animosity rather than unity on this new venture. Negative vibes are never good to put out to our peers.
Let's look at this from another angle. Any new "product" has to be tried out before any of us get all judgey! None of us really know what will work...ever.
Let's all just wish each other the best. As long as the animators do your best, it's up to the rest of us to do our best and see where it goes from there. I for one am thrilled to be part of this project as for me, this is nothing more than a dream come true.

Fanger said...

I think that's what the rub here is, folks, when someone attempts 'reviving' a classic, it's never what it's supposed to be.

Truth was, as of late, the reason the past revivals have fallen short is that networks focus more upon merchandising than the actual product itself.

Prime example was Loonatics. Originally, Warner Bros. wanted an anthropomorphic team along the lines of 'Capt. Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew.' Regrettably, WB Execs felt Capt. Carrot wouldn't be profitable, so we ended up getting the Loonatics instead.

As for Duck Dodgers, I did like how they attempted in keeping the Jones/Maltese style, but I agree with Mark on this one. The dilemma here was putting Daffy in a regular series than just a random series of shorts.

Another problem I felt with Dodgers was they were trying to spoof too much from 'Star Trek,' rather than just come up with an entirely new realm for the character. Though they did touch on other venues of Daffy from his other shorts (like the Westworld spoof, where Daffy enters his Drip-A-Long persona).

But I feel one of the main problems with revivals is, they focus so much on 'modernizing' the classics, they end up becoming a pale version of their predecessors.

However, I'm gonna wait and see what Laff Riot will bring out, and hope they retain the reason why we watched the classics in the first place.

Bugs Fan said...

I've actually seen the new character designs by a very talented lady. I was most impressed. This is not going to be like the originals. They're not putting lightning back in the bottle. So rather than fail at repeating what can't be beat they're going with a different style.

As long as the spirit and the funny is there I don't see why they can't succeed.

Last I heard things were going to test overseas first.

I wish 'em nothing but the best!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous Anonymous who posted earlier: New WB animations have turned lovable and somewhat arrogant Daffy Duck - who unlike Bugs can actually pronounce "The Himalayas" into an annoying hateful miser that the writers seem to think is only funny if he is beaten up as much as possible. Why? Probably bescause the writers just don't know what to do with him anymore. WB we need the classic writing back again. What happened to the witty Tedd Pierce writing and gags like "Eat at Joes" or "Welcome to Doughnut center - what a hole!" What happened to the classic Looney Tunes celebrity impersonations and adult aimed satire (eg: Sunset Strip: No Cover or "No more for me thanks - I'm driving!") that made looney tunes popular with generation after generation for over 50 years!?

What everyone out there needs to remember is you have to stick with what was successful. This 3D animation and cheap looking art will only lose money in the long run even if it saves labor in the short run because it will fail to resonate with the audience and keep them coming back for more. WB has the character model sheets of geniuses like Chuck Jones and Tex Avery - for the love of Bugs Bunny please use them! Then they need the strong writing and storyboard of the classics - the successful tradition of quick wit, gag humor and simple story works so much better than these new zany out of this world concepts that are too fast paced and over the top. And if they think "this is what the kids like to watch" it is simply not true! I am a kid and all I can say is that brevity is wit!

Looney Tunes was the Family Guy of the 40s and 50s - it should maintain that cutting edge with the adult aimed satire that won over audiences years ago. Children will like what their parents like and will continue to watch it as they grow older even if they do not understand all the references to begin with. This will keep the programs running for years to come. The original show was successful as a break away from the family orientated shorts and features of Disney. It must recapture that audience through the same formula and not try to compete with the contemporary shows of today. Space Jam was probably the best contemporary Looney Tunes revamp I saw - and some of the later shorts were good to in that they kept to classic gags - eg: "Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers." People are itching for more of these classic Looney tune shorts. And most true fans would probably rather watch the originals over and over than some new attempt at a "re-branding". The brand is good as it is and lets keep it that way - there is just no need to take the greatest cartoon characters of all time "back to the ole drawing board!"

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