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October 10, 2002

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Toons: Who Are They?

Some characters of animated movies and cartoons by Disney and Warner Bros. called themselves “toons”. Though all of them differed from one another, they had some common features, or, as a user would say, “properties”. I’ve tried to enumerate these common traits basing upon three animations: “Disney’s Bonkers” (“DB”), “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” (“RR”) and “Space Jam” (“SJ”). However, "SJ" differs a bit from the other two movies/cartoons, at least because its characters were "tunes".

The following text is Copyright © 2002 Kitty Cracker (that's me!). No part of it can be used without the permission of the author. The illustrations were taken from Herr Mueller's site without permission, some of them are screengrabs from the videos I've found on his site... If you have something against contact me and I'll remove them or replace with my own ones. If you have some facts about toons that were not mentioned here please send them to me and if they are correct I'll add them to the Encyclopedia (of course mentioning your name).

Appearance. According to “DB”, toons are either animals with the body structure like that of the humans (sometimes they are elves or dwarfs) or things that have eyes and mouth and can talk. In the first case, they have four fingers on each hand and usually three toes on each foot. In the second case, they may have no extremities at all. Most animal-like toons are much smaller and thinner than humans (their height is about 3 feet), though some of them are huge and fat (Flaps the Elephant, Tanya Trunk, Al Wormin from "DB"). In either case, toons are brighter than humans. In the following pictures, you see toon grapes, a toon parachute, a toon bobcat, a toon rabbit, a toon hooter, a toon police light and a toon pencil behind a human’s ear.

Cleaning. Toons are always clean. If they get dirty they simply shake off the mud or wipe it off. Nevertheless, they take a shower every morning (Bonkers in "Dog Day AfterToon", "Cereal Surreal") and every evening (Bonkers in "Luna-Toons"). They don't need to use restrooms (the shows are G-Rated, remember?). However, "tunes" sometimes do (I've seen an episode of "Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries" where the Bulldog was standing behind a tree and his embarrassed face showed that he was doing something improper) but that's mostly for fun.

Clothes. Of course toon things do not need clothes. In this entry we'll speak of the animal-like ones. Most toons wear thick white gloves that make their thin fingers look fatter (compare Fall-Apart's hands - the glove is only on one of them). Female toons are fully dressed: they wear dresses, high-heeled shoes and a bow on their head (Fawn Deer from "DB"). Males wear a shirt, a T-shirt or a pullover but no pants. Besides, they walk barefoot. See also: Males and Females. If a toon needs to change his clothes, he does it in a moment by rotating like the Tasmanian devil. When the rotation ends, the toon finds himself in a new disguise (at the end of "DB": "Witless for the Prosecution", Bonkers "quickchanged" into hockey uniform; in "Tune Pig", Bonkers dressed up as a plumber, delivery boy, postman, waiter etc).
P.S. "Human-like" toons (elves, dwarfs etc) are fully dressed, like normal people (the Christmas elves from "DB": "Miracle on 34th Precinct", the fairy from "Luna-Toons").

Emotions. Toons cannot control their emotions. When a toon is upset, he cries until his tears flood the whole room (Bonkers in "Going Bonkers", the bird in "Color Me Piquel"). If a toon hears good news, he starts jumping with joy and kissing everyone (Roger Rabbit in "RR", Bonkers in "Going Bonkers"). If a toon is frightened, he jumps onto the arm of the person that happened to stand near.
P.S. It makes me think that toons are not heavy (I mean the ones who are small - see Appearance for details), because even a child can hold them (in "Poltertoon", Bonkers jumped onto Marilyn but she kept her footing). Big toons are extremely heavy (in "DB": "Cartoon Cornered", a female hippopotamus had nearly smashed Sergeant Grating and Wild Man Wyatt).

Eyes. Toons have big expressive eyes. Usually the eyes of a male toon are just white ovals with black pupil and a patch of light. Sometimes they also have iris (like Tweety in “SJ” or Bonkers in the original “DB” episodes). Some toons' eyes have blue color where white should be (Darkwing Duck, Ludwig von Drake from "DB" and other ducks). Negative characters (yes, toons can be bad guys!) usually have yellow eyes (Wacky Weasel, Chick, DJ Finger from "DB"). Female toons have eyelashes (Lola Bunny in “SJ”, Fawn Deer in “DB”), males do not. (See also Males and Females). When a toon sees something frightening or exciting, his eyes pop out of their sockets. When a toon is upset or wants to look cute, they enlarge, the pupil widens; if there was no iris, it appears. When a toon is hypnotized, his eyes become multi-colored and look rather weird and hard to describe (Bonkers in "Trains, Toons and Toon Trains" after being sprinkled over with "truth serum"). There may be some other changes, as in the third and fourth pictures of the following row that shows how different the eyes of one and the same toon can be.

P.S. At the beginning of the "DB" episode "Cereal Surreal", Bonkers' eyes were green. They also became green for a moment at the end of the episode "In the Bag" (you can see this moment in the opening sequence or on the following picture).

P.P.S. When Roger Rabbit drank a glass of alcohol, his eyes began to twist and change color from red to green and vice versa.

Humans. Which creatures can be considered humans? In “DB”, everything is quite simple: those who have five fingers are humans; the ones who have four fingers on each hand or do not have hands at all (see Appearance) are toons. The same situation was in “SJ”, but the humans in this movie were real (not painted). There is a problem with the movie “RR”, because it shows toon animals (Roger Rabbit), toon people (Jessica Rabbit, Baby Hermann), toon things (Benny the Cab) and real people (Eddy Valiant). The problem is, that the creatures whom I call “toon people” have five fingers, therefore, they are not toons! However, they cannot be classified as “humans” because, according to the movie, “humans” are real people! So this question is left open.
P.S. Who is Mad Hatter? He acts like a toon (esp. in "Color Me Piquel") but he's got five fingers! The only excuse I can find is, that this character was invented for "Alice in Wonderland", where the problem of toons and humans was not so acute.

Human Mortality. Assuming that we have already found out who humans are (see Humans), this entry comes to one question which is answered differently by different sources: are people in Toon World mortal? In “RR”, they are: a human was killed by a piano thrown out of the window. In “SJ”, they are not (at least while they are at the toon territory): Michael Jordan (the movie character, not the actor) was squeezed into a hole, crumpled into a ball but he did not get hurt. Besides, he made his hand stretch out for several feet. In “DB”, Bonkers’ human partner always has accidents after which he finds himself in a bed, bandaged from head to feet. He simply takes off the bandages and stands up. Sometimes he recovers directly after the accident. (Episodes: “Color Me Piquel”, “Is Toon Fur Really Warm?”, “Fall-Apart Land”).

Immortality. Toons are almost immortal. I’ve said “almost”, because in “RR” they invented the so-called “dip” which killed toons (the death of a toon shoe was shown at the beginning of the movie). However, in other movies toons never die (first of all, because they are the main characters of G-Rated animations; secondly, because slapstick is their lifestyle).

Males and Females. Sometimes it is rather difficult to distinguish between a toon guy and a toon girl. Here are a few differences:
Males are fuzzy. Females have short smooth fur. (Compare Bonkers with Fawn Deer and Katia Legs-go-on-a-lot).
Females are fully dressed, unlike males (see also: Clothes).
Females wear bows, earrings etc. (Lola Bunny in "SJ").
Females have eyelashes (see also: Eyes).
P.S. Who is Tweety? :8-)

Movements. Toons do everything rapidly. Their speech is quick, their movements are fast. Toons cannot sit quietly. They need to burst out their energy, so they always rush up and down chattering endlessly. They can get all necessary things (especially mallets and anvils) out of thin air (Bonkers in "Going Bonkers", "Trains, Toons and Toon Trains"). In "Hand over the Dough", Bonkers got food out of nowhere.

Slapstick. Toons are born for making fun. They are fond of sliding on banana peels ("DB": "Going Bonkers, Part 2"), throwing anvils at each other and pies at people ("DB": "Stand-in Dad"). "When toons get bombed, they have little birdies flying around their heads" (a phrase from "DB": "Is Toon Fur Really Warm?"; Bonkers in "Trains, Toons and Toon Trains" can be a good example). Okay, not necessarily birdies: sometimes stars, planets (Roger Rabbit at the beginning of the movie) or the small copies of the object that hit them - in the picture below you see Bonkers with tires around his head.

If a toon ingests a bomb and it explodes in his stomach, there will be smoke out of the toon's ears and sometimes fire out of his mouth. If a bomb detonates in the toon's hands he will be burnt to ashes but recover in a few seconds ("DB": "The 29th Page"). Toons can challenge gravity. They run above a chasm for several seconds until they realize that there's no support under their feet. They stop, smile stupidly, wave to the audience and fall, usually making much noise (Bonkers in "Gone Bonkers" and "Luna-Toons"). If there's asphalt below, they break through it, leaving a hole which has the shape of their body (Bonkers in "Stork Exchange"). Toons also leave the silhouettes of their bodies when breaking through a window (Roger Rabbit in "RR") or a wall (Fall-Apart in "DB": "Fall-Apart Bomb Squad"). See also: Immortality, Vulnerability.

Vulnerability. Despite toons are born for slapstick, they sometimes can be hurt. In the episode "Quibbling Rivalry" of "DB", Jitters was hurt so much that he was taken to the hospital; in “Gobble-Gobble Bonkers”, Jitters was seriously injured by Grumbles; in “Ski Patrol” Grumbles himself was hurt; in "Bobcat Fever" Al Wormin was wounded as a result of an explosion; in “Do Toons Dream of Animated Sheep?” Bonkers got a blow on his head and a bump as a result. However, they recover quickly (as well as humans: see Human Mortality).