"Eh... What's up, doc?"
The words have been heard by everyone from the mouth of Bugs Bunny, the animated rabbit at the center of countless "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" cartoons. While Bugs got his start all the way back in 1938, there's plenty of life left in the carrot-loving cartoon character.
In September, Cartoon Network debuted the first season of "Wabbit -- A Looney Tunes Prod.", an all-new animated series that brings Bugs Bunny and his friends back to television and sees them ditching the sitcom format used in most of their modern appearances. Instead, the series returns to the classic format established by "Merry Melodies," wherein Bugs stars in two shorts per episode, each dominated by orchestral music and a healthy dose of slapstick comedy.
At New York Comic Con, producer Gary Hartle and voice actors Jeff Bergman (Bugs Bunny), JP Karliak (Wile E. Coyote) and Bob Bergen (Porky Pig) visited to the world-famous CBR Tiki Room to speak with Albert Ching about the new Cartoon Network series, their characters, and how the series is both reverential to the classic cartoons while incorporating contemporary culture and references. They also discuss how they keep the characters both consistent and fresh for each new animated interpretation.
In the first interview, voice actors JP Karliak and Bob Bergen discuss what they enjoy most about the new take on the classic "Looney Tunes" characters in "Wabbit" and how they keep their work and the characters fun. They also discuss the frequently rumored sequel to "Space Jam," which saw the characters team up with NBA legend Michael Jordan for a seriously out-of-this-world basketball game.
On giving the characters a classic spin, but with a nod to modern sensibilities:
Gary Hartle: Yeah, it has a little more edge to it. I think one of the things we did was that we kind of rolled back to the rascally-ness of Bugs. You know, he's a bit of a stinker, as he likes to point out. ... I think that as other people have tried to do other incarnations, like any icon they start to clean him up and wash him out. We just went back to letting Bugs be Bugs and I think that's part of the success of the show.
On how Bergman approaches the reimagined character after playing him for so long:
Jeff Bergman: That's a good question, I don't know if anyone has ever asked that. It's very different, every project is very different because every director, every animation director, every dialect director has their own impression of what they want the character to sound like. So it changes; it's changed through the years. I think if anything, it more resembles the earliest [versions] because it is so action-packed. So it is much more energetic, I think.
Hartle: One of the things that I really stipulated in this is that it is like vaudeville. If you look at the old ones, and we do emulate that, it is like they are on a stage and the actors then came from that discipline. So we are kind of doing the same thing. So are setup is very simple, I might have two characters playing off each other and we keep the camera on them and let them to this bada-bing bada-bang kind of talk and the rhythm of that is important to the show. I think that's the crux of how we do our show.
Bergman: We sometimes will have maybe eight or nine guys in there, in the studio and we're just going back and forth. It's madness. It's a runaway train. But I think we get that in the performances.