Tag Archives: skunk

Pepé le Pew: Stinky

Conceived as a new character for the short film, Forever Ambushed, Stinky became the familiar francophone-challenged skunk known throughout the world today as Pepé le Pew.  The film was eventually retitled Odor-able Kitty and premiered on the silver screen nationwide January 6, 1945.  It follows the misadventures of a bedraggled and abused tomcat who, wishing to avoid the derision and despair of life as an alley cat, paints himself black with a white stripe, rolls in Limburger cheese and wreaks revenge upon his tormentors as a sly skunk.   At which point the French-accented skunk (Stinky/Henry/Pepé) brimming with amour (ooh la la, mon petit chou) enters and a Feydeau farce of co(s)mic proportions is born (beaucoups de rire).   Although famed storyman Michael Maltese was to write the majority of Pepé’s ‘aromantic’ adventures (c’est bon!), the legendary Tedd Pierce penned (écrivait) this first cartoon (et très bien aussi!).

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“Characters always start with an idea rather than a drawing.  Before I drew Pepé for his first appearance in a cartoon, I knew something about his character, and I knew he was a skunk, but I did not know what he looked like.  Live-action directors call casting sessions at this point to find an actor to match their notion of a character, but I begin drawing—my casting session.  I did more than 200 drawings of Pepé before I was confident he would work according to our conception of him.  From that moment on, he was as much subject to the limits of his physical ability as I am.

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“When we were writing Odor-able Kitty, in which Pepé made his first appearance (under the name Henry), the odious Eddie Selzer [the producer at Warner Bros. Cartoons] tried to block the project on the grounds that skunks talking French are not funny.  (The French themselves find these cartoons very funny.)  But when For Scent-imental Reasons later won an Academy Award, Eddie Selzer contentedly collected the credit and the Oscar, which he took home.” — Chuck Jones, Chuck Reducks, Drawing from the Fun Side of Life

Filmography (all Jones, except where noted):

  • Odor-able Kitty (1945)                                                                     
  • Scent-imental Over You (1947)
  • Odor of the Day (Davis, 1948)
  • For Scent-imental Reasons (1949 Academy Award-winner)
  • Scent-imental Romeo (1951)
  • Little Beau Pepe (1952)
  • Wild Over You (1953)
  • Dog Pounded (Freleng, 1954, in cameo)
  • The Cats Bah (1954)
  • Past Perfumance (1955)
  • Two Scents Worth (1955)
  • Heaven Scent (1956)
  • Touché and Go (1957)
  • Really Scent (Levitow, 1959)
  • Who Scent You? (1960)
  • A Scent of the Matterhorn (1961)
  • Louvre Come Back to Me (1962)

Image of the Day: Cats Bah

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"Darling! I have waited por vu."  Pepé le Pew makes his move in this original layout drawing by Chuck Jones for his 1954 short film, "Cats Bah."  In this film, the most Boyer-referential outing of the amorous skunk, Pepé is found reminiscing about his greatest love when he his smitten by the "belle Americaine touriste femme skunk."  The drawing is graphite on 12 field, two-hole punch animation paper and measures 10.5" x 12.5".  

Image of the Day: Two Scent’s Worth

With all this talk about Pepé le Pew coming to the big screen and being voiced by Mike Myers, what could we do but post a couple of great layout drawings of the notorious le skunk français as created by his father, Chuck Jones.  If you'd like to read some of the blog posts and such, please click here or here or here or here.  You get the idea, it's le news du jour!

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Original layout drawing of Pepé le Pew by Chuck Jones for his 1955 "Two Scent's Worth", graphite on 12 field animation paper.

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"Le Mew, le meow" purrs the exquisite pussycat in Chuck Jones' "Two Scent's Worth" of 1955.  Original layout drawing, graphite on 12 field animation paper, 10.5" x 12.5".  

Image of the Day: Soundstage

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"Soundstage" a 16 field (13.5" x 33") pan cel art edition of 750

Chuck Jones on Pepé le Pew:  "If you can't do it yourself, animate somebody who can–Pepé le Pew, for example.   Pepé's sexual confidence is absolute.  he sees rejection as no more than a temporary setback, and every pursuit as an interesting variation on the road to inevitable success.  (For myself, as an eighteen-year-old I took every expression from every girl as a rejection.  If I couldn't find a rejection I liked, I would invent one.)

"Pepé is the individual I always wanted to be, so sure of his appeal to women that it never occurs to him that his attentions might be unwelcome, or even offensive.  I tried to make Pepé's confidence a part of my own personality, hoping to share in his sexual success.  On the screen it worked."