Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bunny Roget

In late 2008, I found myself trying to come up with something else to send to PLAYBOY.  I decided I'd do it on my own this time. My art had begun to loosen up a bit when I did the MOONIE pages, and I wanted to see if I could push that. One of my favorite artists, since the 60's, had always been Herge, whose ADVENTURES OF TINTIN has long been perhaps my all-time favorite comics series. Yet, apart from some of the "rough layout" mini-comics I did in high school, it seemed I always kept falling back on the idea that "realistic" was somehow better than "cartoony"-- which is utter nonsense!

As it happens, I had just finished reading the 2-book reprint set of Harvey Kurtzman's LITTLE ANNIE FANNIE, which ran in PLAYBOY for around 20 years, and I think it's safe to say I was inspired. I got the idea for a character who would pay tribute to BUCK ROGERS while being a sort of reverse of ANNIE's naive innocent who always seemed to be fighting off sexual advances.  BUNNY would be someone who very much enjoyed sex, but absurdly, kept running into sexual frustration.

BUNNY ROGET (pronounced ("row-zhay") would be the owner & operator of a space delivery service, which would allow the stories to visit any number of alien planets.  For the supporting cast, I came up with Will Hardrock as her #1 employee, spaceship pilot, and the main object of her romantic advances (who, due to reasons that would be unknown at first, kept her at a distance). Filling out the crew would be Gigi Astra, a cute, short, slender blonde who would serve as both navigator & medic.  Strangely enough, because of the way the story ideas were coming to me, I was only able to feature Gigi in one episode (so far), but I'm sure that will change if and when I get to doing more of these.

Bunny was inspired, to some degree, by the character of "Midge" (played by Tanya Roberts) on THAT 70'S SHOW-- although I didn't actually realize this until after I'd done a couple of them. Will was based, somewhat, on Wally's Wood's John CANNON. Gigi was inspired by both my #1 favorite PLAYBOY playmate, Lesa Ann Pedriana (April 1984), and my best friend in art school back in the late 80's.

After it rattled around in my head for several months, I finally got inspired to do the first one the very day I put in for a job at Harleigh Cemetery, a job I wound up getting, which lasted 2 years.

The art style for the figures actually harkened back to how I used draw the mini-comics in  the late-70's, only more refined, cleaner. And somehow, a bit of Dan DeCarlo found its way in as well.

Here's the original character sketches:
The 2nd episode allowed me to reuse the extensive "Underworld" "set" I designed & built back in late 2002 for a proposed STORMBOY story (which I still hope to do, one of these days).
The 3rd episode finally gave me a chance to introduce Gigi, although to date it's her only appearance. It's also one of the sexiest things I've ever done, in a cute, sweet sort of way.
The 4th episode was my tribute to 2 of my favorite sci-fi movies of the mid-60's-- INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D., and KING KONG ESCAPES.  What a combo!
The 5th episode follows on directly from the 4th.  After so much text, it was fun to go the other way and do one that was almost entirely visual.
The 6th presented me with quite a challenge.  At first, I couldn't see how I could do this one in anything less than 2 pages.  However, by laying out the panels, with the dialogue, first, then filling in the art afterwards, I somehow managed to cram in all in.  The most text-heavy episode so far, this one proved to be my favorite.  I really got a kick out of the villain's growing frustration in trying to convince the seemingly-naive BUNNY of his evil intentions.  Dr. Yen was inspired by actor Eisei Amamoto from the film KING KONG ESCAPES.  Naturally, I pictured Paul Frees' voice in my head when I wrote his dialogue, some of which pays tribute to ENTER THE DRAGON.
I couldn't just leave BUNNY in that predicament, so of course, I brought back Professor Peterson from episode 4. This was inevitable-- the hero of INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. running into the villain of KING KONG ESCAPES.  (Do I have to explain this one to anybody?)
Story & Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA
All prominent characters are Trademarks of HENRY KUJAWA

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