Author’s Corner: Big Stone Gap author explores Bugs Bunny cartoon in new book

Holly Viers • Apr 30, 2020 at 7:30 PM

Almost everyone has heard of Bugs Bunny, the clever, carrot-chewing animated rabbit known for his signature catch phrase, “What’s up, Doc?”

In honor of the cartoon character’s 80th anniversary this year, Big Stone Gap author Michael Samerdyke has released a new book called “Wascally Wabbit: The History of Bugs Bunny.” The book explores the origins of the lovable character, while also taking a look at each of his cartoon appearances.

“If you’ve always been interested in Bugs Bunny but you’ve never really sat down and thought about him in a sustained way, this sort of shows the process by which he came into being,” Samerdyke said. “It also points out which cartoons came out, in what order. … This gives you a little more understanding of Bugs Bunny and how he was shaped over the years.”

What’s your background?

Samerdyke was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but moved to Southwest Virginia with his wife in 1992. He teaches history as an adjunct instructor at UVA Wise and is lay worship leader at Christ Lutheran Church in Wise, where he has served since 1997.

Samerdyke started writing science fiction and fantasy in high school, but he became more serious about writing in 2000, when he attended the Odyssey Writers Workshop. Then in 2012, he began to self-publish e-books.

“I have several e-books out,” Samerdyke said. “Some are fantasy and horror, and some are nonfiction. One of my earlier ones is called ‘Cartoon Carnival,’ in which I look at the best short cartoons from Warner Brothers, MGM, Walter Lantz and DePatie-Freleng, who did the Pink Panther cartoons.”

What’s the story behind the new book?

Samerdyke got the idea for “Wascally Wabbit” last year after realizing that 2020 was Bugs Bunny’s 80th anniversary.

“Actually, this year is the 80th anniversary of Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker. … Bugs really is one of my favorites,” Samerdyke said, “so I started work on ‘Wascally Wabbit,’ and I was able to look at all of Bug’s cartoons basically in order from the earliest on through to the latest and write the book then.”

The book is split into two parts, Samerdyke said. The first part traces Bugs Bunny from his origins through the rest of his career, while the second half is a breakdown of all of the Bugs Bunny cartoons in alphabetical order.

“You can sort of read the historical overview of how things developed,” Samerdyke said, “and then if you want to see more about a specific cartoon, then in the second half of the book, you look it up under the title of the cartoon.”

Where can the book be purchased?

Samerdyke published “Wascally Wabbit” through Amazon at the beginning of April. It is available for purchase in paperback and e-book formats.

What’s next?

Samerdyke is already looking ahead to his next book, which he plans to publish on Amazon later this year.

“The next book that readers of ‘Wascally Wabbit’ might be interested in is ‘Guess Who?’, and it’s a history of Woody Woodpecker, because Woody Woodpecker also emerges in 1940,” Samerdyke said.

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