Friday, June 8, 2012

Bugs Bunny's Vacation Funnies # 8, August 1958 (Dell): "Desert Dessert"

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner have an interesting history in comics. While they first appeared in the cartoon "Fast and Furry-Ous" (1949), They didn't appear together in comics until 9 years later. Actually, Wile E. appeared first, in a Henery Hawk story from 1949 as "Kelsey Coyote", but for the next 9 years after that, he made only brief cameos. In "Bugs Bunny's Vacation Funnies" #8 (August 1958), the Road Runner made his first comic appearance, with Wile E. as the antagonist. Animator Pete Alvarado drew the story, and it is presumed that Mike Maltese wrote it. While the Coyote is very faithful to the cartoons (At least, to those in which he spoke), the Road Runner now spoke too. In rhyme. Oh, and he had a wife and children. The wife, "Matilda", was eventually dropped, but the three sons and rhyming speech pattern continued on into the 1970's.

The reason for this bizarre deviation from the pantomime, blackout-gag cartoon format is that the publishers didn't think the characters would work in a medium that was supposed to be READ instead of WATCHED. There didn't seem to be any reason to prove that theory wrong, because the stories were popular enough to warrant their own self-titled comic series, "Beep Beep the Road Runner". It wasn't until 1994, at the start of the DC Comics "Looney Tunes" series, that anyone would attempt to create stories based on the pantomime humor of the cartoons great effect! More on the Dc comics version later.

For now, here's the story that started it all, the impact it left was far from small. It may appear quite strange indeed, but Wile E. is still no match for the Roadrunner's speed!

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