On the Fourth of July, I decided to draw the most American cartoon character in the history of this nation. Bugs Bunny, a non aggressor who delivered swift retaliation only when provoked was in many ways an embodiment of Theodore Roosevelt’s “walk softly but carry a big stick” doctrine. Armed with only confidence and wits, Bugs Bunny was able to take down any foe using nothing but “good old fashioned yankee ingenuity,” as Mr. Chuck Jones described it. His legendary self assurance and fast talking wise guy attitude in the face of danger made him an ideal for wartime Americans to strive for in a world fighting for it freedom.
On a drawing related Bugs continues to astound me every time I sit down and try to draw him. Bugs Bunny as depicted in the 40s and 50s is relatively simply built like the average cartoon character, but he has like a million subtle things in his face that make him Bugs… He’s got this very specific head shape that’s not quite like any other character… And then there’s the relationship between his facial features… Get it wrong and he instantly stops being Bugs, he just turns into generic cartoon rabbit #9833. Drawn by Chuck Jones in the 1950s, these subtleties get even more intricate. His expressions are much more controlled and down to Earth than say Bob Clampett or Tex Avery, but he’s got a very specific way of drawing eyes… Not just simple circles or ovals with lines over them, he basically invents a new eye shape for each expression- very specific mixtures of both curves and angles. The shapes appear simple at first but the simplicity is pure smoke and mirrors, for if any line is under or over exaggerated just the slightest amount it becomes a different emotion entirely- the slightest unintentional adjustment of an eyebrow for instance can be the difference between Bugs feeling smug satisfaction or pure excited glee. Have I done the rabbit even the slightest bit of justice in my attempts to draw from his films? I can only hope.