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Q: Why is the "Tunes" part of "Looney Tunes" spelled "Tunes" instead of "Toons"?

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

That's a very good question, especially when you consider that Warner Bros.' attempt to reboot the franchise in the '90s was called "Tiny Toon Adventures."

But the '90s were a long way from the '30s, when the cartoons started, and the business changed a lot in those 60 years. The "Looney Tunes" cartoons were originally produced to promote Warner Bros.' vast music catalogue (perhaps you recall another title that Bugs Bunny and friends appeared under, "Merrie Melodies").

The first installments were actually very light on plot, focusing more on the songs they used. The first-ever commercially released "Looney Tunes" cartoon was 1930's "Sinkin' in the Bathtub," which took its name from the popular song "Singing in the Bathtub," from the 1929 Warner Bros. film "The Show of Shows." (It was used again in a number of "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" cartoons.)

The first shorts were made before the producers ever came up with the classic characters who are now associated with the series -- the first of the classic crew was Porky Pig, who didn't come along until 1935.

Also, we aren't talking "series" in a TV sense here. Though most people came to know the cartoons via half-hour compilations that aired on TV, they were first produced to appear before films in the cinema. That's why, when watching them on TV, you see an intro with credits before every short, rather than just at the beginning of the half-hour.

The introduction of now-classic characters, such as Porky and, of course, Bugs Bunny, propelled the series to its golden age, and though it also brought a shift towards plot and away from music, some of the best-loved shorts from the later era returned to their musical roots. The best example is, of course, 1957's "What's Opera Doc," a parody of a Wagner opera. It's considered a cartoon masterpiece, and was added to the U.S. Library of Congress's National Film Registry in 1992.

 

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