Wile E. Coyote and the Road
Runner are two of the world’s most beloved cartoon foes. This dueling duet made their cinematic debut in Fast and
Furry-ous on September 16, 1949. It was almost three years before the next Wile E.
Coyote and the Road Runner film, Beep,
Beep would appear.
Over a span of
fourteen years, their creator Chuck Jones, would direct a total of twenty three
short films (1949 – 1963), showing that the food chain isn’t what it’s cracked
up to be…at least not for this bewildered coyote. The cartoon Beep Prepared was nominated for an
Academy Award(tm) in 1961.
Chuck Jones and Michael
Maltese created Fast and Furry-ous as
a parody of chase movies that were popular at the time. Unwittingly, their
chase parody was better than the rest and they became the chase films of the 20th century.
In his book Chuck Amuck, Jones writes: “I first
became interested in the coyote while devouring Mark Twain’s Roughing It at the age of seven. I had
heard of the coyote only in passing references from passing adults and thought
of it – if I thought of it at all – as a sort of dissolute collie. As it turns out, that is just about what a
coyote is; and no one saw it more clearly than Mark Twain.
Jones also writes: “The
author’s (Mark Twain) description of a coyote went like this: 'The coyote is a long, slim,
sick and sorry-looking skeleton with a grey wolf skin stretched over it…he is a
living, breathing allegory of want. Who could resist such an enchanting creature?’"
As for the Road Runner’s
trademark sound, “it came from a background artist named Paul Julian,” says
Chuck. “One day he was coming down the hall carrying a lot of background
paintings and couldn’t see where he was going, so he just went ‘Beep, Beep’.
When I heard it, I realized that’s the sound the Road Runner should make."
In animation, it’s important
to maintain a consistency with each character. For the Coyote-Road Runner
series, Jones and his staff were always cognizant of the following rules:
RULE 1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except
by going “Beep-Beep!”
RULE 2. No outside force can harm the Coyote – only
his own ineptitude or the failure of ACME products.
RULE 4. No dialog ever except “Beep-Beep!”
RULE 5. The Road Runner must stay on the road –
otherwise, logically, he would not be called a Road Runner.
RULE 6. All action must be confined to the natural
environment of the two characters – the Southwest American desert.
RULE 7. All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical
conveniences must be obtained from the ACME Corporation.
RULE 8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s
RULE 9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than
harmed by his failures.