As the curator of San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, I get a lot of questions about my job. The most frequent being, “How did you end up with that job, anyway?” There are also a lot of questions about how much a particular X-Men or Superman comic is worth, how to repackage a failed movie script as a graphic novel, and if I’ve seen the latest episode of The Family Guy. (For the record, no, I haven’t seen it, and I don’t intend to.) Usually I just smile and nod politely, so that I don’t look like a jerk. Not being a jerk is actually a very important skill in my line of work.
         Recently, I’ve gotten a whole new set of questions from friends, family, and even professional cartoonists: “You wrote a book?” “Really?” “You?” The book in question, The Looney Tunes Treasury, has prompted a lot of queries that seem to indicate just how mysterious the book-writing process is to anyone who hasn’t been through it. “Did you edit the book?” “Did you draw this?” “Did you design it?” “How long did it take?” Surprisingly, just about the only thing I haven’t been asked is how much money I earned from writing the book. My friends seem to be more willing to let me pick up the check, so they must assume that writing must at least pay enough to buy the occasional pizza.
         To save us a few minutes the next time you run into me, here’s how The Looney Tunes Treasury came about.
         Through an introduction made by a former museum board member, Mark Burstein, I provided Insight Editions some images from our permanent collection for use in some upcoming publications. A few months later, Mark mentioned that he’d been assigned as the project editor for animation guru Jerry Beck’s latest book, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes. He told me that he needed people to write essays on each of the individual cartoons featured in the book, so I immediately assumed that he was just checking in to pick my brain and get some recommendations for possible essayists. I was pleased to find out that he was actually hoping that I–an experienced writer on the field of animation and, just as important, someone with an authoritative job title–would be interested in writing an essay on one of the aforementioned 100 greatest Looney Tunes. And, even more important, would I be willing to write it free of charge?
         As a friend of Mark’s, a fan of Jerry Beck’s, an admirer of Insight Editions, and a die-hard Looney Tunes fan, I agreed without hesitation Soon I found myself watching and re-watching Friz Freleng’s Little Red Riding Rabbit, until I felt confident that I could write a solid 500-word essay about it. This went well enough that I was invited to do a piece on Chuck Jones’s Drip-Along Daffy, and my wife–a talented and insightful writer of and about comics–was invited to contribute a couple of pieces, too.
         We now had some good writing under our belts that would be featured in an impressive-looking hardcover edition. Plus, we scored a couple of complimentary copies. I figured that would be the end of it, but, fortunately for me, it wasn’t.
         My writing for The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes went over well enough with editor Kevin Toyama and the staff at Insight Editions that it was suggested that I might be a good fit for a more extensive Looney Tunes project. The book would be intended for an all-ages, general audience, and was to be written so that both the casual and the die-hard Bugs Bunny fan could enjoy it. Being a good 75 years younger than the typical animation expert (not quite, but it’s not necessarily a young man’s field), it was thought that someone like me could write something that would appeal to a younger demographic.
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