Looney Tunes Cartoons recently premiered on HBO Max to critical acclaim. At Comic-Con @ Home, some of the cast, creators, and producers joined TV Insider’s Damian Holbrook to discuss their approach to developing the show. Executive producer Pete Browngardt, supervising producer Alex Kirwan, art director Aaron Spurgeon, and voice cast members Eric Bauza (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and others), Bob Bergen (Porky Pig), Candi Milo (Granny), and Jeff Bergman (Elmer Fudd, Sylvester, and others) joined Damian for a panel of laughs and insightful commentary on these iconic cartoons now made for modern-day.
Eric Bauza talked about how the sheer legacy of these iconic characters would always inform their own modern-day performance. “As long as the performers are told to be these characters since the 1930s that’s the most important thing” “We’re taking our best memories from the era of Looney Tunes. You have to be able to predict what the [previous actors] would have done. This dialogue has never been performed before but by us in the past few years!”
Eric, on seeing his name in the Looney font at the end of these new cartoons, spoke on how proud he felt to work on it with his colleagues. “[Damian] mentioned seeing our names in that font where Mel Blanc used to be, but seeing my name next to someone like Bob Bergman or Candi or Milo, you have to understand we’re entering Bugs’ 80th year, but I have a period of time where I’m looking up to my colleagues who kept the Looney Tunes alive and relevant long enough for me to be part of the series.”
Damian noted to the producers that he thought this new version felt like this cartoon could have been from 1970, as it felt very much in the mold of those earlier cartoons. In the process of making the cartoon feel rooted in history, Pete Browngardt said he does “A lot of homework. I grew up a huge fan and it’s one of the reasons I got into animation in the first place.”
He and the other creators focused on “this aesthetic [we all] loved, and getting this style from the 1940s and put it in this modern style. He also noted that “We approached the production as much as it was done in the 1930s,” with cartoonists fully running their operation.
Alex Kirwan also heavily referenced the older mode of production being applied to Looney Tunes Cartoons. He noted that they “wanted the zany energy of the 1940s; that was our favorite period and the era of the shorts. But we didn’t set out to reinvent or put new sensibilities on it. As artists, our own sensibilities would still come through. We were going to let that happen naturally. What we loved about the shorts is their traditional slapstick humor, and we wanted to get back to that.”
Aaron Spurgeon elaborated on his role as art director, and his important role in setting the animated environment for other artists to work in. “My job basically is to make sure that the staging for these characters is the best it can possibly be, and also to give homage to the originals.”
On some of the trickier elements of adjusting Looney Tunes Cartoons to modern-day, he emphasized the role of research. “How do you bring a cell phone into these classic cartoons? We research and try to make things not so edgy and really clean so we try to adjust for how things may have been manufactured back then.” Pete added on, noting that, “Aaron’s hard work and attention to detail are what makes it feel like it’s from that time.”
Bob Bergen also emphasized how important the animated framing was for the voice actors. “It starts with the storyboarding, we do homework, and we come together, and its very collaborative and we come up with ideas and assessments. It really is a team effort to do these and pure joy.”
Jeff Bergman concurred with Bob, saying that “With the storyboards, it’s like reading a comic book!” Both were so praising of the writers and animators, to the point that Bob said that “The good writing and the good drawing act itself.” Overall, he found”This show is a pleasure and beyond a pleasure” to work on.
Candi Milo spoke on the acting mindset the actors needed to inhabit to voice these legendary characters. “It’s the pace of the comedy. This is not a show for every voice actor to be up their alley.” She noted that the actors need to “have that ‘black and white’ sense of timing.” from the early 1900s. “You have to keep up the timing and know what Granny’s gag is.”
Candi emphasized how important she knew these characters were to audiences, not only through their legacy but through direct engagement with fans online. “I got to tell yah! To take on these giants with the world and our fans out there on social media. There are private groups that I am a part of that were waiting with bated breath to see what you [the producers] would do with it!” She, and seemingly most audiences, thinks that they’ve been doing a great job. “I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years and this is the most I’ve been proud of [a project] ever!”
Additionally, the panel featured a new upcoming short, “Postalgeist!,” where Daffy and Porky are postal workers who must deliver a package to a haunted hotel. You can watch that along with the rest of the panel here.