Piggy (Merrie Melodies)
|Looney Tunes character|
|First appearance||"You Don't Know What You're Doin'!"|
|Created by||Rudolf Ising|
Friz Freleng (final redesign)
Piggy is an animated cartoon character in the Merrie Melodies series of films distributed by Warner Bros.. The character first appeared as a fat, black pig wearing a pair of shorts with two large buttons in the front. His coloration and dress were identical to those of the Walt Disney character Mickey Mouse before the advent of color film. John Kenworthy argues that, considering the fact that some sketches of mice which Hugh Harman had drawn in 1925 were the inspiration for the creation of Mickey Mouse, Harman and Ising never intended to copy Disney.
Piggy's name came from one of two brothers who were childhood classmates of Freleng's, nicknamed "Porky" and "Piggy".
Animator Rudolf Ising introduced Piggy to replace his previous character, Foxy, as the star of the Merrie Melodies series Ising was directing for producer Leon Schlesinger. Nonetheless, Ising had only made two Piggy shorts in 1931 before he left Warner Bros. with partner Hugh Harman. The animators who took over the Merrie Melodies cartoons dropped the Piggy character (as well as his girlfriend Fluffy) and turned the series into a string of one-shots.
Despite their clichéd lead character, Ising's two Piggy shorts are well received by some critics. The first is the 1931 short You Don't Know What You're Doin'!. Here, Piggy visits a surreal night club where he heckles and plays with the club's jazz band. This was followed by Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land, also in 1931. Here, Piggy plays a steamboat captain who must rescue a drowning Uncle Tom. Due to its stereotypical portrayal of the Uncle Tom character, the cartoon is included among the so-called "Censored 11", Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts that are withheld from circulation due to their heavy use of ethnic stereotypes. After this cartoon, the series would only feature one-shot characters until Egghead debuted. Nevertheless, he continued to appear at the end of every cartoon up to You're too Careless with Your Kisses!.
In 1936, Animator Friz Freleng redesigned Piggy for colour film. Piggy was given lighter, more Caucasian-like colour with distinguishing birthmarks. The redesigned character appeared as a gluttonous child in a large family of pigs in At Your Service Madame (which gives his full name as Piggy Hamhock), where he leads his fellow siblings in foiling a bum's attempt to rob their mother. A year later he starred in Pigs Is Pigs in which his gluttony takes center stage. This would be his final appearance. After that he was discarded with his character traits transferred for a time to Porky Pig.
- Kenworthy, John The Hand Behind the Mouse, Disney Editions: New York, 2001. p. 54
- Beck, Jerry. Audio commentary for "I Haven't Got a Hat" on the Warner Brothers DVD set Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume 3. (2005) citing Freleng's autobiography.
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-0894-2
- “Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons” by Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald.