Tuesday, January 24, 2012
2528. Road Runner
Wile E. Coyote (also known simply as "The Coyote") and The Road Runner are a duo of cartoon characters from a series of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. The characters (a coyote and Greater Roadrunner) were created by animation director Chuck Jones in 1948 for Warner Bros., while the template for their adventures was the work of writer Michael Maltese. The characters star in a long-running series of theatrical cartoon shorts (the first 16 of which were written by Maltese) and occasional made-for-television cartoons.
In each episode, instead of animal senses and cunning, Wile E. Coyote uses absurdly complex contraptions (sometimes in the manner of Rube Goldberg) and elaborate plans to pursue his quarry.
The Coyote appears separately as an occasional antagonist of Bugs Bunny in five shorts from 1952 to 1963: Operation: Rabbit, To Hare Is Human, Rabbit's Feat, Compressed Hare, and Hare-Breadth Hurry. While he is generally silent in the Coyote-Road Runner shorts, he speaks with a refined accent in these solo outings (except for Hare-Breadth Hurry), introducing himself as "Wile E. Coyote—super genius", voiced with an upper-class, cultured English accent by Mel Blanc. The Road Runner vocalizes only with a signature sound, "Beep, Beep", and an occasional tongue noise. The "Beep, Beep" was recorded by Paul Julian.
To date, 48 cartoons have been made featuring these characters (including the three CGI shorts), the majority by Chuck Jones.
Jones based the Coyote on Mark Twain's book Roughing It, in which Twain described the coyote as "a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton" that is "a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry." Jones said he created the Coyote-Road Runner cartoons as a parody of traditional "cat and mouse" cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, which series Jones would work on as a director later in his career.
The Coyote's name of Wile E. is obviously a play on the word "wily." The "E" was said to stand for Ethelbert in one issue of a Looney Tunes comic book, but its writer hadn't intended it to be canon. The Coyote's surname is routinely pronounced with a long "e" (/kaɪˈoʊtiː/ ky-oh-tee), but in one cartoon short, To Hare Is Human, Wile is heard pronouncing it with a diphthong (/kaɪˈoʊteɪ/ ky-oh-tay). Early model sheets for the character prior to his initial appearance (in Fast and Furry-ous) identified him as "Don Coyote", a play on Don Quixote.