Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising (1929)
Schlesinger hired Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising to produce their first series of cartoons. Bosko was the first major Looney Tunes lead character, debuting in the short Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid in 1929. The first Looney Tunes short was Sinkin’ in the Bathtub, which was released in 1930.
In 1928, when Walt Disney lost control of his Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cartoon series, producer George Winkler hired away several of Disney’s animators to continue producing the Oswald cartoons for Universal Studios. These animators included Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, Isadore “Friz” Freleng, Carman “Max” Maxwell, Norm Blackburn, Paul Smith, and Rollin “Ham” Hamilton. Universal later chose to produce the Oswald series using its own in-house animators headed by Walter Lantz, which left Winkler’s animators out of work. The unemployed animators decided to produce their own cartoons and made Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid as a demonstration to show to distributors. Rudolf Ising appeared on-screen as himself in the short and Carman Maxwell performed the voice of Bosko. Harman and Ising shopped for a distributor, but were turned down by both Paramount Pictures and Universal. Leon Schlesinger, head of Pacific Title & Art Studio took an interest in Bosko and used his connections with Warner Bros. to get a distribution deal for a cartoon series that Harman and Ising later named Looney Tunes, a play on the name of Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony series.