Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017 (and 1950) with Bugs Bunny!



Merry Christmas 2017, to all of our readers and friends - old and new! 


And this is the special Christmas comic that I mentioned in OUR LAST POST! 

I had never read Dell Comics’ BUGS BUNNY’S CHRISTMAS FUNNIES # 1 (1950) before this month, because I’d just gotten my copy this December.  Ditto for BUGS BUNNY’S CHRISTMAS FUNNIES # 2 (1951).  Read ‘em both over the last two weeks.  Both are excellent issues, and a great way to set the scene for the joyous holidays soon to come. 


BUGS BUNNY’S CHRISTMAS FUNNIES # 1 is also the source of the “Giant Robot Snowball Fight” splash panel, I posted previously! 


It is part of the climactic sequence of the issue’s lead story, Bugs Bunny in The Days Before Christmas”, written by Don R. Christensen, and drawn by Tony Strobl. 


This unusual Christmas tale runs a whopping 31 PAGES (…of this even-more-whopping 128 page comic magazine), which would explain why this particular story was never reprinted by Gold Key during the 1960s or ‘70s – though a “32-Page, No Ads” special comic would have accommodated it quite nicely, with any random one-page gag to fit on Page 32. 

It wouldn't have fit in this 1966 Christmas issue, for instance!  Oh, and could you have gotten "more sixties" than "The Girl from B.U.N.N.Y."?  ...Well, could ya? 

Where do I begin to list the strange and wonderful elements that went into making this tale? 

Needing some Christmas money, Bugs becomes an assistant chimney sweep.  It’s big business this time of year, as chimneys are cleaned in anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus!  On his first job, Bugs accidently destroys Elmer Fudd’s Christmas tree.  

While in the forest, trying to replace it, Bugs runs across… a Biblically-dressed shepherd, who “contracts with Santa” to provide The Jolly One with little 1950s-Sci-Fi-style Robotic Helpers – and (if that’s not enough) possesses a “Magic Twig” that duplicates the placid personality of any docile animal it touches into said robotic helpers, in order to bring them to peaceful and presumably productive life!  (Whew!) 

Fired as an assistant chimney sweep, Bugs becomes apprentice to the shepherd, who has just created a GIANT robot to do the GIANT (What else?) tasks that Santa requires! 


Soooo, guess what happens when Bugs accidentally duplicates the decidedly non-placid personality of a grizzly bear into the GIANT robot?  No more spoilers on this (GIANT or otherwise) … It’s Christmas, and NO ONE ever asks Santa for spoilers! 


From cover to cover, BUGS BUNNY’S CHRISTMAS FUNNIES # 1 is an outstanding issue, with both Holiday and Non-Holiday tales brought to you by the talents of the aforementioned Don R. Christensen and Tony Strobl, with John Carey, Phil De Lara, Al Hubbard, Fred Abranz, Vivie Risto, Jim Pabian, Gil Turner, and Ken Champin… a veritable “Who’s Who” of Dell Comics circa 1950 – Carl Barks, Harvey Eisenberg, and Roger Armstrong excepted.

 I know, Bugs! I'm in awe of this line-up, too!

There are the usual game and text-story pages… and the “sheet-music” and lyrics to three seasonal songs: “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, and (of course) “Jingle Bells” are reproduced!


Adding to the outright unconventionality of it all, are the one-and-only (I’m certain!) comic book appearance of the Scotsman who challenged Bugs Bunny to a wild game of golf.  "One-and-only", at least for Pre-DC Comics modern issues, where virtually any character who EVER appeared in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical shorts could be found.  

Darned near everyone appeared in DC's version of LOONEY TUNES comics!

And, finally… THREE, count ‘em, THREE comic book adaptations of actual LT & MM cartoons – One for Bugs Bunny, and two for Daffy Duck… at least ONE of which could very definitely never be shown on TV today!  Another vastly changes one supporting character for no possible reason I could see, save maybe “giving us more dialogue to read” than the original character would have given us.   Oh, and the Scotsman was in an ORIGINAL STORY, not a cartoon adaptation!  Imagine that!



So, BUGS BUNNY’S CHRISTMAS FUNNIES # 1 makes quite a nifty Christmas (or holiday of your choice) present for anyone fortunate enough to receive one… or just go out and get one for yourself, like I did.  You won’t be sorry! 


We’ll be back with one or two “Christmas Extensions” before we’re through.  Merry Christmas (or holiday of your choice), Happy New Year (or “first of the month” of your choice), and enjoy whatever you do this holiday season to the fullest! 

Finally, a BUGS BONUS WINTER GAG, from another Dell comic, just for the sake of celebration!  Click to Enlarge! 


11 comments:

Adel Khan said...

Before I drop off to save Christmas as I desperately wanted to be a part of a long list of cartoon characters Donald Duck, and Fred Flintstone, who have done that.

I wanted to wish you and Esther a very Merry Christmas, and a very happy, prosperous, and healthy New Year with lot's peace and of love! Hope ‘yule’ have the opportunity to carry out your tradition of watching Christmas themed shows. Year in and year out your posts are a festive treat that keeps on giving.

The panel you posted of the “Giant Robot Snowball Fight” is indeed impressive.

It’s interesting how there were few and far between adaptions of the Looney Tunes. My father recalls as a child reading a story that adapted the Daffy Duck short “Cracked Quack” (1952), but I’ve been unable to track the issue.

Joe Torcivia said...

Adel:

You’ve “saved Christmas” ‘round here, just by being the first person to deliver a comment down the chimney of this Blog on Christmas 2017!

Esther and I thank you for all the kind words, and wish the same for you and yours!

It was a little more difficult time-wise, but I still got in most of my usual Christmas holiday viewing (…Largely by staying-up very late on “The-Night-Before-The-Night-Before-Christmas): Lost in Space “The Toymaker”, The Flintstones “Christmas Flintstone” (My two original “Must-Views” at Christmas time), Bewitched “A Vision of Sugar Plums” (with a pre-Lost in Space Billy Mumy), Justice League Animated “Comfort and Joy”, Tom and Jerry “The Night Before Christmas”…

…And, just to balance all that wonderful sentimentality: Johnny Bravo “‘Twas the Night” (Narrated by the late, great Adam West!) and Family Guy “Road to the North Pole”!

Also, there was a most strange “Christmas movie” for which someone gave me a DVD last week. I will be reviewing that very shortly, so stay “tuned”… or “Blogged”, or however one stays connected to these things!

Adaptations of actual Looney Tunes shorts DO tend to pop up at the oddest times and in the oddest places during the Dell Comics years! Witness BUGS BUNNY CHRISTMAS FUNNIES # 1. I don’t recall an adaptation of the Daffy Duck short “Cracked Quack” (1952), but my guess would be in a Dell Giant – or (less likely, but still possible) one of the many, many issues of Dell’s LOONEY TUNES title.

It’s likely hard to track because the comic would have used a different title, or maybe no title at all.

If anyone knows, please report it here. I’ll do the same, if I find it.

Comicbookrehab said...

Wow..hard to imagine Chuck Jones' take on the hare getting involved in these antics as is - perhaps in a way that fit Jones's frame of literary reference, but not entirely out of sync with the Bugs Bunny that appeared in TV specials produced by Friz Freling in the 70's, so it could happen. Funny enough, the Christmas special we actually got rings more like a Jones influence.

And this is all in theory - if there was a budget for a wholly-animated special, not a compilation..unless you could try to recreate the plot of this comic by patchworking old Bugs Bunny cartoons with new linking footage - that's how they would've done it.

Joe Torcivia said...

That WOULD be interesting to see, ‘Rehab!

The Warner Animation of the ‘90s, that we all loved so, would have done this really proud… but, alas, they would not have known of it! So, it remains a great comic for future Looney Tunes aficionados to discover – as I did this year!

Pelayo Flecha said...

A very Merry Christmas to you and Esther, Joe!

This sounds like a very fun comic. Congratulations on acquiring it.

It's too bad that the folks at Warner Bros. Animation in the '90s wouldn't have known of Bugs Bunny's Christmas Funnies. Why is that, exactly? I mean, the Disney comics Carl Barks did for Dell were never forgotten, as "DuckTales Classic" shows. So why do Warner Bros. Dell comics seem to have gone down the memory hole? And is there any chance of DC ever acquiring the rights to these classic stories and reprinting them in their own current line of Looney Tunes comics? Or of IDW doing so? I sure would love to see that.

Achille Talon said...

Well that story was certainly… different. I do wonder how the concept of these animal-personality-twig-enabled-Santa-helping-elvish-robots came to the writer's mind. Although it makes one heck of an entertaining story.

And people getting their chimneys sweeped in expectation of Santa Claus — in worlds were Santa Claus is real as a matter of course, it does seem like something that would happen. And yet I've never seen it done. Very clever, that. It feels like something out of a Terry Pratchett book, don't you think?


Also, best of luck to Adel Khan to save Christmas! Or Boxing Day, as it were. (Heh, people never do save Boxing Day. Someday I want to see a story where a villain seems to threaten Christmas and the hero thwarts that plan, only to discover it was all a distraction and the real dastardly scheme is coming on the 26th.)

Joe Torcivia said...

Pelayo:

You write: “It's too bad that the folks at Warner Bros. Animation in the '90s wouldn't have known of Bugs Bunny's Christmas Funnies. Why is that, exactly? I mean, the Disney comics Carl Barks did for Dell were never forgotten, as "DuckTales Classic" shows. So why do Warner Bros. Dell comics seem to have gone down the memory hole?”

There could be any number of reasons for this, but the one I come up with is because the Warner Bros. comics, as created by Western Publishing for the Dell, Gold Key, and Whitman comics, had no life (at least here in the United States) beyond the life of the publisher itself.

Unlike the Disney comics from Western, which were picked-up and continued by Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochrane for what we now call “Gladstone Series I” in 1985-86 thru 1990, the corresponding Warner material was never seen again – save half of one DC trade paperback overseen by Mark Evanier. This was a VERY critical time for the Disney comics to BE continued and have an actual American resurgence after such neglect over Western’s final decade-and-a-half – and, therefore, NOT go down “The Memory Hole”!

Thus, to the decision-makers at DC Comics/ Warner Communications when it finally became time to revive a LOONEY TUNES comic book title – or consider any animated projects, these comics were (A) virtually unknown and (B) probably considered by some to be “old fashioned” and not as reflective of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons which (at least in my opinion) the DC comics imitate too slavishly – turning one “classic animation situation” after another into something akin to endless feeding-upon-itself.

Oh, that’s not to say that the DC versions aren’t good! In fact, they are VERY good and very accurate portrayals of the characters and the situations they often found themselves in – but, because they lean so heavily on the classic cartoons as source material, the type of imaginative story cited here – much less the overall “variety” in story subject matter that diverges from the cartoons, is non-existent!

There is also the question of *IF* the stats to the Western Warner material even exist anymore, if someone DID wish to reprint it. I’ve heard unconfirmed stories of its discard or destruction once Western ceased to exist as a publishing entity. This would be a crying shame, if true!

The Western Disney material, on the other hand, was circulated, published, and re-published by other entities world-wide for decades, better insuring its continued survival. Though I believe even some (much?) of this material may be “lost” as well.

David Gerstein could probably add more to this, should he read these comments, but that’s my own take on the matter.

Achille Talon said...

On the subject of the original Western Looney Tunes art: though they wouldn't include the original lettering, some version may still exist thanks to foreign printings, I think — for instance, Hachette, the publishers who brought most of the classic, Western Looney Tunes material to France back in the day, are still operating and well, so there's no telling what may still be preserved in their archives. Just something to hope for!

Pelayo Flecha said...

Joe:

Thank you for your very informative response. That makes perfect sense.

And based on the (relatively few) Western and DC Looney Tunes comics that I have read, I fully agree with your assessment of each series. I read a little of both as a child, and even then I thought the DC LT comics to be at the same time more faithful to the cartoons but not as interesting or funny as the Western LT comics! Though I enjoyed both Western and DC LT comics, and still do!

Joe Torcivia said...

Achille:

That’s nice to know about Hachette perhaps having stats to the Western Warner material. Hopefully, they do still have it available. That stuff REALLY DOES deserve to be revived for a new audience, somehow!

To your other comment…

Don R. Christensen, whom I had the pleasure of knowing in his post-comics later life was a very imaginative – and a very NICE – fellow (and so was his wife Ivy-Carol), so it comes as no surprise to me that he would conceive something on the order of “ animal-personality-twig-enabled-Santa-helping-elvish-robots”!

Since I *did* get a present or two, I will presume that Adel was successful in his efforts to “save Christmas” this year. Maybe next year, it’ll be MY turn… or yours!

Funny… there are a LOT of great and appropriate comics to read for Christmas, but I can’t think of any for Boxing Day… except maybe THIS ONE!

Joe Torcivia said...

Pelayo:

You write: “…I thought the DC LT comics to be at the same time more faithful to the cartoons but not as interesting or funny as the Western LT comics! Though I enjoyed both Western and DC LT comics, and still do!”

I think that is the PERFECT way to put it! I, too, enjoy both versions – and this is exactly WHAT I enjoy about them, and WHY!