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Tasmanian Devil Animation Art
The Tasmanian Devil ("Taz"), is an animated cartoon character featured in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes series of cartoons. The character appeared in only five shorts before Warner Bros Animation closed down in 1963, but marketing and television appearances later propelled the character to new popularity in the 1990s. Today Taz is one of the most unique and recognizable members of the Looney Tunes roster.
Robert McKimson based the character on the real-life Tasmanian Devil. The most noticeable resemblance between the Australian marsupial and McKimson's creation is their ravenous appetites and crazed behavior. Although Taz's appearance does not resemble the real marsupial, it instead contains multilayered references to other "devils"; he has horn-shaped fur on his head (similar to the Devil's appearance) and whirls about like a dust devil (similar to a tornado). Taz is constantly hungry and devours everything, edible or not. His efforts to find more food are always a central plot of his cartoons.
Taz's appetite serves as the inspiration for Devil May Hare (first released on June 19, 1954). In the cartoon, Taz stalks Bugs Bunny, but due to his dim wits and inability to frame complete sentences, he is little more than a nuisance. Bugs gets rid of him in the most logical way possible: matching him up with an equally insatiable female Devil. The character's speech, peppered with growls, screeches, and raspberries, is provided by Mel Blanc. Only occasionally would Taz actually speak, usually to utter some incongruous punchline, (eg. "Why for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?")
After the cartoon entered theaters, producer Edward Selzer, head of the Warner Bros. animation studio, ordered McKimson to shelve the character since it was "too obnoxious". After a time with no new Devil shorts, Jack Warner asked what had happened. He then saved Taz's career when he told Selzer that he had received "boxes and boxes" of letters from people who liked the character.
On September 7, 2002, an infant version of Taz appeared as one of the regulars of the Baby Looney Tunes series. The infant version of him was voiced by Ian James Corlett. Most recently, he has had guest spots in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) (where he was voiced by the main actor in the movie, Brendan Fraser) and two episodes of Duck Dodgers. In addition, the Histeria! portrayal of Attila the Hun is directly based on Taz.
Other primary Warner Brothers Characters: Bugs Bunny · Daffy Duck · Porky Pig · Elmer Fudd · Sylvester · Tweety Bird · Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner · Foghorn Leghorn · Pepé Le Pew · Yosemite Sam · Speedy Gonzales · Marvin the Martian · Tasmanian Devil