Q.B. Fox looks in vain for Rapid


Medium: Theatrical animation
Released by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1969
Creator: Robert McKimson
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Rapid Rabbit did not star in the final cartoon series launched by Warner Bros. during the era of theatrical animation — but he missed that distinction only on a technicality. You need at least two items before you can call them a series. Rapid appeared …

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… in only one film, Rabbit Stew & Rabbits Too, which the studio released on March 15, 1969.

But Rapid's one cartoon had the earmarks of a series. Rapid was an appealing character, with a couple of schticks to enhance viewer interest; and he had an appealing adversary (Quick Brown Fox), whose goal (eating him) could never be eliminated by mere defeat. It's virtually certain there would have been a "Rapid Rabbit & Quick Brown Fox" series, if the company hadn't gotten completely out of the animation business shortly after his debut.

Rapid Rabbit came along during a post-Bugs, post-Daffy era in which Warner's biggest ongoing stars were Merlin the Magic Mouse and Cool Cat. But he was handled by one of the old directors, Robert McKimson, who had, among many other notable things, handled the cartoons where Sylvester Pussycat encountered the Giant Mouse. And his non-series was strongly reminiscent of a couple of Warner series from the old days.

The first was, of course, Speedy Gonzales. True to his name, Rapid was gifted with Super Speed — that was one of those schticks. But since the world was starting to wake up to minority sensitivity, he was designed without Speedy's ethnic baggage.

But more notably, Rapid and Quick acted a lot like the Road Runner and Coyote. Their motivations didn't need to be spelled out and their conflict never had to be resolved. They didn't have personal lives. They didn't even speak to each other — tho Rapid made a Road Runner-like sound using a bicycle horn. They just chased. Their cartoon consisted of one chase scene after another.

Perhaps they'd have made a beautiful series together. They couldn't have done much worse than Bunny & Claude, who did star in the last series Waner Bros. launched.


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Warner Bros.