Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Magical Sneezing

The anarchy that reigned throughout the classic Looney Tunes cartoons are a large part of what makes them the best cartoon shorts ever. These cartoons had simple plots--but these served as the structure needed upon which to hang one gag after another. They were not concerned with telling an actual coherent story. Nor should they have been. They are perfect for what they are.

But this has always meant that it can be difficult to translate the Looney Tunes characters to other media and still be funny and true to their personalities. So comic book Bugs Bunny, for instance, is inevitably going to be different from cartoon Bugs. There will be more structure to the comic book version, a little less anarchy in both the story and Bugs' personality--and the bad guys will fire guns that might actually kill you.

Well, okay, there is more structure--but I've just sat here thinking for a few minutes and discovered that it is still impossible to coherently summarize a Bugs comic book story. The goofiness level is still a little too high for that.

"The Magic Sneeze," from Dell Four Color #376 (Feb-March 1952) is a great example of this. I simply don't know how to concisely explain the plot and still do it justice.

So I'll just give you a few bullet points. Bugs gets a hat that trickles magic dust (formed from the disintegration of a magic plant) onto him and causes him to sneeze. When he sneezes, bizarre creatures appear. When he sneezes again, the bizarre creatures disappear.

This, by the way, makes sense in context.

He and Porky, seeking help, run into a couple of villains who have imprisoned the world's greatest
magician as part of a ill-defined plot to conquer the world.

They escape, find the magician, and ride to freedom on hypnotized sharks, later switching over to magically summoned polka-dotted birds.

This also makes sense in context.

More shenanigans ensue, with Bugs inadvertently summoning up a pterodactyl, then a polka-dotted dinosaur, then a surprisingly normal-looking rhinoceros. The end result is that the villains are captured.

This also makes sense in context.

It really does.

The Dell version of the Looney Tunes was not as anarchic as the cartoons--for any medium other than animated cartoons, that would probably be impossible. But the world created for them by Dell was a fun one, allowing for stories that followed a bizarre logic of their own, giving them a relatively coherent beginning--middle--end and rarely failing to entertain us.

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