Keeping with our creepy cartoon vibes for the month of October, here’s an early Looney Tunes entry featuring Porky Pig as a cop dispatched to investigate an old house that may be haunted. And in fact, it is, with a very groovy ghost who gets great kicks out of scaring the pants off poor Porky. There are a lot of great visual and timing gags, with the kind of broad and loose animation style typical of director Robert Clampett.
Back in the 1930s, Porky Pig was one of Warner Bros. leading animated characters. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, the two characters most associated with Looney Tunes from a modern-day perspective, were introduced as foils for Porky just a couple of years before Jeepers Creepers was released, and wouldn’t evolve into their most recognizable forms until the early 1940s. Once Bugs and Daffy came into their own, Porky was largely relegated to supporting roles (cf. Drip Along Daffy and Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century). He never lost his trademark stutter, though, immortalized in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies “That’s All Folks!” sign off.
This is the original black and white version of Jeepers Creepers, with the full blackface ending intact. It has also been frequently shown on television in a colorized version with the ending censored, either by fading or irising out early or trying to dull the offensive blackface gag by putting the ghost in purple-face instead. There are numerous examples of racist moments in Warner cartoons – the infamous Censored Eleven are so heavily reliant on racist stereotypes that they generally aren’t shown at all, whereas cartoons like Jeepers Creepers have only small offensive portions easily edited out for television broadcast. Personally, I’m all in favor of showing these cartoons in their original form with proper historical context, if only to better understand and learn from our past, even the negative parts. Of course, the majority of this cartoon is simply a hilarious ghost story.