Who was the best WB cartoons director?


Keep moving forward
May 19, 2017
You forgot Tashlin.

Anyway, Jones may have used the same formulas, but that isn't really a problem in itself - it really only matters if your shorts are good or not. Almost every other director used formulas as well, and as much as Jones. But he was able to give such a strong personality to each one of its characters, that it set him apart from the rest. In that regard, he was better than Freleng or McKimson.

That said, my favorite is Clampett because of the constant creativity in each and every one of its shorts. Or, dare I say it, frames.

Lock n' Stock

Mar 29, 2018
Lancashire, England
To be honest, I'm not very familar with the other Warner cartoon directors than I am with Jones and Freleng. One of my favourite VHS tapes as a kid was a compilation of space-themed Looney Tunes shorts (like Duck Dodgers, Hare-Way to the Stars and the bizarre one-off Rocket-Bye Baby), all of which were directed by Chuck. Another tape I owned was Carrotblanca, which (obviously) had the mid-90s titular short along with some older Jones and Freeleng toons (like Drip-Along Daffy and Hare-Do).

So it's not to say I'm not open to other directors, but them two are just the ones I happened to grow up with the most, which I guess isn't hugely surprising since most of my favourite LT/MM shorts tend to be from the 40s and 50s (when those two were the primary director's of WB's cartoon output). Jones especially just had a consistent style that has always resonated with me, be it his timing for humor, staging or characters. This clip for example never fails to put a smile on my face.

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Well-Known Member
Mar 20, 2015
The only less known director I talked about was Art Davis because he’s my fav of them really.

I probably haven’t watched much of Tashlin, but he still did a few shorts I liked, like Porky Pig’s Feat, The Stupid Cupid, etc.

I’ll even say my opinion on Ben Hardway/Cal Dalton. Some of their shorts were really creative (especially with proto-Bugs), but nothing really special. I’ll be honest, when I was digitizing my Laserdisc collection a few of their shorts, like Gold Rush Daze, kinda bored me.


Feb 19, 2017
To me is a match between Clampett, Jones and Freleng,
Freleng had become somewhat underrated now, with some supposed ¨scumco¨ experts dissing him, but he was great, some of his early Bugs Bunny cartoons, like Red Riding Rabbit and Hare Force, feel like a weird but hilarious combination of Clampett and Jones Bugs shorts, most of his shorts are great except the earliest ones, and the last Tweety´s and the last Yosemites became a little redundant.

Clampett is of course the most visually inventive/creative and the one who molded Daffy the most, he carried the legacy of Tex Avery notably.

Jones the more sophisticated one, I think there's 4 styles of Jones:

1.The Sniflles-esque stuff (that I like but many people found sappy)

2.His early Bugs and Daffy Shorts(Daffy and the Dinosaur, Hold The Lion Please, To Duck or not Duck, Super Rabbit, My Favorite Duck, Hair Raising Hare, etc up to Homeless Hare, Daffy Dilly and Long Haired Hare) and some of his one shorts with Hubie with or without Bertie and one shorts that have some incredible gleefulness and energy,

3.The more sophisticaded stuff of the Fifties like the Hunter Trilogy and What's Opera Doc, Most of the Three Bears and Hubie and Bertie Shorts, The Pepe le Pew and the Roadrunner and Coyote ones.

4.The late Talkative stuff, like Nelly´s Folly, Teenage Thumb, lots of eyelashes and eyebrows like his MGM specials and his versión of Tom and Jerry, and late LT shorts like from Hare to Eternity.
(I like almost all of him, but 2 and 3 the most)

Tashlin was great too but his cartoon career ended too soon.

Art Davis is great as a Clampett lite, with some of Mckimson style.

Tex Avery set the basis of Bugs, Daffy and the Warner cartoon humor, but apart from some great individual shorts, he did his best job in MGM.

Mckimson was the most ¨mundane¨ one and have a tendency to make everyone chubby but when he was great, he really was on pair with all the others

McCabe have potential but was given little to do.

The other directors work lack an identity, those could have been Columbia Pictures shorts all the same.

Most Travelogues shorts and the like were bad, independently of the director, with some rare exceptions like Farm Frolics, Foney Fables, and Cross Country Detours. Some like Crazy Cruise only get good at the very end.


Active Member
Oct 24, 2013
I do think Freleng was the one who got the chase formula down pat, his Bugs and Tweety cartoons were suitably frenetic and wacky with lots of good gags. Yosemite Sam was also a great antagonist for Bugs.

Maybe the only one I thought he didn't get down quite so well was Speedy. I dunno, he just wasn't as charming as Bugs and Tweety were under his pen, I always felt Sylvester was too pitiful, which I admit is odd because the Road Runner cartoons were practically the same thing. Mc Kimson at least tried to give Speedy more of a personality and a crafty side, even those De Patie Freleng cartoons with 'evil Daffy' at least had an endearing Speedy.


New Member
Mar 2, 2020
I’m honestly going to have to hand it to Robert McKimson. His interpretation of Daffy was definitely the funniest, and he also handled Bugs and Porky expertly. Not to mention creating memorable characters like Foghorn Leghorn or the Tasmanian Devil. I’d say his best shorts are “Ducking the Devil”, “Fool Coverage”, “Thumb Fun”, “Devil May Hare”, “Early to Bet”, “Dime to Retire”, and “Don’t Axe Me”. He even managed to direct one pretty good cartoon during the otherwise dreadful Seven Arts era: “Rabbit Stew and Rabbits Too”.

Chuck Jones was definitely great from 1942 on, but from 1938 to mid-1942, he was hit-or-miss; it took until “The Draft Horse” for him to become consistently funny, IMO. Though on the other hand, even some of his earlier work was pretty competent, like “Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur” or “Prest-O Change-O”.

Friz Freleng is a close second only to McKimson. He already started out pretty strong in 1934, directing some fairly respectable shorts like “Beauty and the Beast” or “Into Your Dance”, and his work only got better from then on; in particular, his design for Bugs Bunny was my favorite out of all the directors. He also created Yosemite Sam, who is my favorite out of Bugs’s enemies.

Bob Clampett is also quite good, despite being shackled with the limitation of only directing Porky cartoons from 1937 until late 1941 (even when they mainly focused on Daffy, they still needed to have Porky somewhere in there due to contractual obligations). But from then on, the gloves truly came off and along with Freleng, he directed some of the studio’s best output of the 40s.

Art Davis is criminally underrated; he had a very nice style that came off as a cross between Clampett (no surprise, since he inherited his unit) and McKimson. That being said, he’s not quite as good as the others, and “Quackodile Tears”, his final cartoon, was a very meager effort.

Frank Tashlin’s cartoons had a very theatrical style to them, and while many of his early cartoons were decent, it wasn’t until he returned in 1943 that they really became fantastic.

Tex Avery started out pretty strong, but eventually he degraded into making mostly spot gag cartoons. He does, however, get credit for creating Bugs and Daffy and shaping the studio into what they’re best known for. His work over at MGM is funnier, though.

Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton were very hit-or-miss. On the one hand, he created Bugs’s prototype (Happy Rabbit) and handled Egghead pretty well (even if he was better under Tex Avery). On the other hand, most of their other output was mediocre.

Alex Lovy is one of the worst directors, creating an army of mediocre characters like Cool Cat and Merlin the Magic Mouse (both of which would have probably been funnier if they were made during the studio’s heyday) and directing the worst of the Daffy/Speedy cartoons (McKimson’s efforts were bad, but still better than Lovy’s), particularly “See Ya Later, Gladiator”.

Jack King was pretty middling. He occasionally directed some decent shorts like “Hollywood Capers”, but the rest of the time, he just wasn’t very good. Though since the cartoons he directed at Disney are mostly pretty good, I’m guessing he just didn’t have anything good to work with (supported by the fact that he started out directing Buddy cartoons).

Earl Duvall is in the same league as Jack King, though his Merrie Melodies were alright.

Rudy Larriva is worse than Alex Lovy, believe it or not. Not only were all eleven of his Roadrunner shorts terrible, he also directed three Daffy/Speedy cartoons of similarly poor quality.

Norm McCabe wasn’t the best. He did have a few good cartoons to his name, but he focused too hard on directing racist propaganda cartoons.

Harman and Ising were pretty good, though they began to falter somewhat in 1933.


New Member
Dec 26, 2021
Definitely Bob Clampett in my opinion. Out of every director, I don't think he's made a single cartoon I didn't enjoy for WB, even during the black and white days. The humor in his cartoons was unmatched by anyone else at WB except for Tex Avery. Also, his unit always put out amazing animation that blows everything else that came out at the time away. Just an amazing director all around.

Classic Speedy

Let it haunt your nightmares
Staff member
May 13, 2003
I don't know if Bob Clampett is the best director, but I will say he's both overrated and underrated at the same time, if that makes any sense. He's overrated in the sense that certain animation circles overhyped his cartoons as the greatest things ever, and anybody else pales by comparison. But he's underrated for the same reason- that hype backlash caused many to unfairly dismiss his cartoons.

But the thing is, he really did direct some great cartoons. Kitty Kornered. Baby Bottleneck. Book Revue. The Big Snooze. The Great Piggy Bank Robbery. All classics that took full advantage of the animation medium.

(He also directed many great cartoons from the late '30s through the early to mid '40s, but I hesitate to include them in the list because it's arguable that Robert McKimson, his lead animator at the time, deserves part of the credit for them)


"It's against nature!"
Staff member
Aug 4, 2004
Katy, Texas, United State
I don't know if Bob Clampett is the best director, but I will say he's both overrated and underrated at the same time, if that makes any sense. He's overrated in the sense that certain animation circles overhyped his cartoons as the greatest things ever, and anybody else pales by comparison. But he's underrated for the same reason- that hype backlash caused many to unfairly dismiss his cartoons.

So much of this was because of John K's blog when it was new. That colored how the directors were discussed online for a long while. It was also a backlash to the hype Chuck Jones was in the couple of decades before that.

I'm glad we're moving past that. Remember when Friz Freleng was dismissed as "boring" and comparable to "afternoon tea"? Cause I do.


You stay, I go
Aug 11, 2001
Somewhere out there
Chuck Jones.......THE ROAD RUNNER CARTOONS....are really ..great...I met Chuck Jones once
at a conference a very long time ago(got his autograph). I also met Fritz Freleng once ...also at a conference. (also a long time ago)


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