Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Month of... Celebrities in Comics, Day 25: What's Errol Flynn got that Porky hasn't?

The very early days of Looney Tunes comics, like the cartoon films contemporary to the period, played on the idea that the stars actually had regular lives that we were sometimes privy to observing. (SEE: The Jack Benny Program, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, etc.) That's definitely true of this early Looney Tunes comic book (excuse the rough reproduction; it's from a microfiche) in which Porky isn't just a ________ (fill in the blank of whatever Warner Bros. cartoon you've most recently watched: farmer, legionnaire, race horse owner, gob), but he's a genuine big-time Hollywood star! Complete with fans!

Panels from the Porky Pig story in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics (1941 series) #2 (November 1941), pencils and inks by Roger Armstrong (?)

Oh course, where Porky's a celebrity at a celebrity restaurant, you have other celebrities rubbing his pork shoulders! First panel: James Cagney, Groucho and Harpo Marx! Second panel: Dorothy Lamour! Fourth panel! Jimmy Stewart!

But, at least as far as the Warner Bros. cartoon department is concerned, the biggest celebrity cameo appearance is by Leon Schlesinger, producer of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, therefore making him Porky's boss! In a relationship that will surprise no one, Schlesinger was also nepotistically related to the actual Warner Bros. As Raul Julia would sing: "Harry, Sammy, Irving, and Jack!"

Here's an actual, I mean real-life, son, appearance by Leon Schlesinger in the May 1940 Looney Tunes short "You Ought to Be in Pictures." The timing of this followed by the comic book about a year later tells me the cartoon likely inspired Leon's appearance in this comic story.

Looney Tunes "You Ought to Be in Pictures" (1940), story by Jack Miller, voices by Mel Blanc, music by Carl W. Stalling, produced by Leon Schlesinger, directed by Friz Freleng

Leon Schlesinger is also boss of Warners' stars Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. And probably even that %!#@^ing Buddy.

Later, Elmer tries to convince Leon that Porky should go west, and Schlesinger thinks he means "rest," and oh boy, hilarity ensues.


joecab said...

And all the caricatures of the stars were lifted directly from the WB short "Hollywood Steps Out" (1941)

Dave said...

So, "Leon's" quotes around "Bugs" and "Daffy" make me wonder if those are just stage names. Thinking about it, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and Mr. and Mrs. Duck would have had to be pretty prescient guessing how their sons would turn out. This may be a whole new area of scholarship.

Bully said...

I did not know that, joecab...thanks for the great info! Here's a link to "Hollywood Steps Out"!