The Spies Report
December 27, 2021 posted by Kamden Spies

Yearbooks Part II – The Aurora 1944 (with Bugs Bunny!)

If only the artwork in the Aurora ’44 yearbook looked as good as this Dan Haskett sketch!

For this post, I am not only going to showcase highlights of the yearbook. I’m also going to share it in its entirety. When doing my research for these posts, this was the first book I found and is the easiest to access (which is why I’m sharing the whole thing).

In 1944, Hobart High School in Indiana made Bugs Bunny the temp-honorary mascot of their 1944 yearbook. In this case, a lot of the information in this yearbook is accessible on the Internet Archive.

When researching these yearbooks, I’ve discovered that most feature Disney characters. Some of these books acknowledged and/or asked permission from the Disney studio to use Mickey or another character in their books. Others don’t and instead use them freely, ranging from one page to the entire book.

Regardless, permission wasn’t necessary at this time. The Disney Studio always granted permission free of charge. Much of the art I have seen don’t go farther than one page. I have also seen studio-made yearbook art with characters from Terrytoons, Lantz, and Hanna-Barbera. They don’t go farther than a congratulatory message. The only non-Disney examples where characters are entire book themes feature Bugs Bunny. And all of what I have found were produced before the studio was sold to Warner Bros.

Every Bugs Bunny-themed yearbook I have seen so far was made before 1945 when Leon Schlesinger ran the studio. Because of this, Bugs Bunny is credited with Schlesinger instead of Warner Bros. At the beginning of the book, the yearbook acknowledges that Schlesinger permitted Bugs as a temp-mascot. If the school did, in fact, ask Schlesinger, I assume it was immediately granted free of charge, just like at Disney.

Surprisingly, I have seen a couple of others with Bugs as a theme, and they were all designed by the schools before 1945. This, being the easiest to share, is the first one I’m sharing. Once again, Bugs is of model and drawn by the students (which makes the design even more fun to look at). Just like in the Copper Kettle, Bugs is used in each dividing section of the book. Drawings of him are used in sections on underclassmen, seniors, activities, etc. All of this art is featured in this article separately from the yearbook link. It’s not as devoted as the other book though, which had Mickey on ever single page and even had Minnie’s Yoo Hoo as an anthem. He is used only seldomly as well. On another Bugs themed yearbook, I will show in the future, he is used quite a bit more. I do wonder why there I haven’t seen any more, though. With the success of the characters on television and their continuing success into the 1950s, it’s surprising that Bugs was never used again as a theme by any school (from what I see so far, at least). However, there’s much more yearbook terrain for me to dig through. And while this was a slim usage of the character, there is many extraordinary finds that I have planned to share on Cartoon Research soon!

LINK to whole yearbook


Selected images (click to enlarge)

10 Comments

  • I’ve been to Hobart, Indiana; I had a girlfriend who was from neighbouring Merrillville. Unlike the Tasmanian capital of the same name, which is pronounced exactly as it’s spelled, the city in Indiana is pronounced “Hobert”.

    It was good to see the marching band featured prominently in the Aurora yearbook, and no wonder. William Revelli, the founder of the Hobart High School marching band, directed the marching band at the University of Michigan for many years and is a legendary figure in music education. The building on the U. of M. campus where the band rehearses is called Revelli Hall.

    Brenda Starr creator Dale Messick was an alumna of Hobart High School (class of ’26).

    The design of Bugs on the last page looks like the one in “Elmer’s Candid Camera”, minus the black ear tips.

    • Come on Paul admit it, You’re the guy who writes the Wikipedia pages aren’t you.
      I just teasing, I’m truly impressed by your knowledge!👍

      • No, I’m not, but I do read quite a few of them, and the only reason I do is that there are so many things I DON’T know. Now, David, down below — that’s what I call impressive knowledge!

        • Yep, there are so many knowledgeable people on this site.
          I have learned many things about animation I never knew about.

  • With the singular exception of the image on the Warner permission page, all of these Bugs figures are at least partly copied or traced from early issues of Dell comic books—one can even tell that a few facial designs were originally by Ed Volke (“Athletics”), Carl Buettner (“Ads” and “The End”), and Vive Risto (“Activities”).

    • You’re right and I didn’t notice until now! This was a poor one for sure. And all of this just keys in why even further. Some are even MUCH worse than this.

  • Once again, so interesting. Glad you stumbled upon this topic, Kamden.

  • At least it’s the zany, playful ’40s Bugs when he was still a rabbit and hadn’t been UPA-ized into a tall, thin, rather smug and blase man in a rabbit suit.

    • I’ll never understand the hatetred of the latter Bugs Bunny short. And there is no such thing as UPA-ized.

  • I see old yearbooks for sale all the time and usually don’t pay much attention. However, a few years ago I came across one at a flea market and for some reason started to flip through it—and quickly discovered that it was chock full of art by later animation great Corny Cole. He was good even then, and needless to say, I bought that one.

Leave a Reply to Carol Erickson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.