Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Looney Tunes" (Dell) #240, October 1961: "Bugs Bunny and Pepe Le Pew: A Battle of Wits"

While the amorous French skunk Pepe Le Pew first appeared in cartoons in the late 1940's, it wasn't until the 1960's that he wandered into the world of comics. Even then, his appearances were few. While his pursuit of l'amour remained, his odor and his habit of chasing whitewashed cats weren't really addressed. In comics, Pepe is often depicted as a hobo and a moocher. He also appears to have an unrequited crush on Petunia Pig.

In this boffo story from 1961, Pepe takes advantage of Bugs Bunny's hospitality, taking over his rabbit hole! Bugs ultimately assists the help of Yosemite Sam in ousting the freeloading polecat. Since this story was concocted in 1961, when the space craze was in full swing, it's no surprise that it manages to fit rabbits from Mars into it. Sacre bleu!


  1. I haven't seen many of Western's Pepe comics, but it's quite obvious that in the wake of the Comics Code, body odor and sexual attraction were almost completely verboten. (Western didn't subscribe to the Code, but stated that they felt it too permissive—making them openly the most reactionary comics publisher of the period.)

    Reading the Western funny animal comics from about 1955 onward, one is pressed to find any portrayal of an affectionate couple. True, dysfunction is funnier. But one actually gets the feeling that some editor there had a terrible sex life and demanded his/her writers avoid the subject.
    Add this to Western's constant portrayal of almost all female funny animal stars as the same flighty, bossy, tea-drinking harridan, and... well...

  2. Well, to be fair, the comics were aimed more towards kids, while the cartoons were aimed at general (largely adult) audiences. Maybe they just felt like kids wouldn't enjoy or understand a story about a smelly skunk chasing a cat with sexual intentions. Kids were more innocent back then.

  3. Though you don’t actually say it, you have art from Phil De Lara in two consecutive posts – this one and the next “Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck” post.

    Like Carl Barks, De Lara’s drawing style evolved over the decades, from the ‘40s McKimson animation style seen in “Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck”, to this really nice looking phase in the later ‘50s and ‘60s, and ultimately to sort of mimic the De Patie Freleng style in some early ‘70s comics (where you’ll see occasional incidental characters that look like the “Big Nose Guy” from the Pink Panther. I like this style best. It’s very clean crisp, and classic. Doesn’t Pepe look great here?

    One thing I’ll always appreciate about the Dell and Gold Key comics is that they used some of the ACTUAL talent of the cartoons: Phil De Lara, Tom McKimson, John Carey, Pete Alvarado, and even the great Michael Maltese.

    ..And, code-or-no-code, I’m GLAD they found something different for Pepe to do.