By Paula Nechak
Sixty-eight years ago this July, a "wascally wabbit" named Bugs Bunny made his official debut. Partly because of him, the animation industry is thriving—and so are online animation schools.
Bugs Bunny may seem quaint by today's standards of animation and computer generated imagery (CGI), but he was quite the prized hare in the early, pre-online animation school days of cartooning —even if Walt Disney's "star," Mickey Mouse, beat Bugs to the screen with the 1928 cartoon, "Steamboat Willie."
A prototype of Bugs Bunny first appeared in a short cartoon called "Porky's Hare Hunt" in 1938, and again in 1939 in a Chuck Jones-directed short titled "Prest-O Change-O," but it was not until July of 1940 that Bugs made his "official" debut in "A Wild Hare." This Tex Avery-directed cartoon is memorable because it gave the big buck his signature greeting, "What's up, Doc?"
Animation Offers a Respite from War
Bugs thrived during the World War II years, with his rapscallion demeanor and insouciant wit delighting audiences seeking a respite from news about destruction and calamity in Europe. Bugs became an even bigger star after the War ended, appearing in the "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" series. He became so popular that the long-eared one's work wound up in the Library of Congress for "cultural significance," and he also made the National Registry of Film after his appearance in Chuck Jones' 1957 cartoon "What's Opera, Doc?." This classic featured the famous scene where Elmer Fudd sang "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit…" to the accompaniment of composer Richard Wagner's robust "Ride of the Valkyries."
Animation's New Era Begins
Bugs's cartoon "Knighty Knight Bugs" took home the best short film Academy Award in 1959, and in 1960 the cartoon capon had his own TV show—more a compilation of past toons than new creations, titled "The Bugs Bunny Show." He continued working, even though feature film animation began to take on a more complex and sophisticated veneer, ultimately earning a star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame." Though he again zoomed to a comeback of sorts in the groundbreaking Robert Zemeckis movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" in 1988, his career was in a decline.
Animation Thrives in the Age of CGI
With the computer industry booming and feature film animation rapidly evolving visually and story-wise, Bugs became a dated-if-beloved icon of the past. Though he saw his likeness immortalized on a US postage stamp in 1997, a brash new wave of CGI and claymation movies had seen online animation schools enjoy a surge of popularity as audiences swept into theaters: Pixar's masterful "Toy Story" franchise, "A Bug's Life," "Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo" series, "Ratatouille," "Wall-E," "Up," the "Cars" films. "The Incredibles" and "Brave" have changed animated film forever. Pixar's competition, Aardman Animations ("Wallace and Gromit," "Chicken Run," "Flushed Away," "Pirates"), Sony's Imageworks ("Monster House") and DreamWorks Animation (the "Shrek" franchise)—as well as recent CGI hits, such as "300" and "Beowulf," which have the visual feel of a graphic novel—have banished Bugs to the history books, and ushered in a world of opportunity for online animation school students looking for a career in digital, 3D and gaming animation.
Find an Online Animation School Today
With online animation schools offering programs in 3D animation, digital animation or video game animation, you'll be primed to thrive in this growing field. Find out what it takes to get an online degree in animation and improve your chances for a better career today.
For additional information on available degrees in online animation, visit our online school profiles and request information. Choose your path and define your own success.