HENERY HAWKOriginal medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1942
Creator: Chuck Jones
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Henery Hawk was a different kind of cartoon character for Warner Bros. When their biggest stars, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, found themselves in
predator/prey situations, it was always in the latter role — they got their laughs by foiling those trying to hunt and kill them. Henery was a rare predator protagonist, whose laughs came from his inability to bring home anything to eat.
It wasn't that he had any inborn failings in that regard. His extreme aggressiveness would no doubt make him a very competent chicken hawk, provided he didn't starve to death before developing his skills. It's just that he was too young and inexperienced to know a chicken when he saw one; and (tho gifted with out-of-proportion strength) far too small to do much about it if he did.
Henery (who was likely named after animator Emery Hawkins, by the way) was introduced in The Squawkin' Hawk, which was released August 8, 1942. The director was Chuck Jones, who is also known for such minor stars as Sniffles the Mouse, Hubie & Bertie, and The Three Bears, to say nothing of such major ones as The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Henery's voice, like that of so many other Warner Bros. characters, was by Mel Blanc.
The introductory cartoon was one of only two uses Jones made of the character — in fact, the only use of him at all until 1946, when director Robert McKimson (who also did the cartoons pitting Sylvester Pussycat against the "giant mouse" and Bugs or Daffy against the Tasmanian Devil) brought him back into the limelight.
In this outing, titled Walky Talky Hawky, Henery came up against an actual chicken, Foghorn Leghorn, who, until the end at least, managed to hornswoggle the naive raptor into thinking the only chicken on the scene was somebody else. It was a very well received cartoon, garnering McKimson's first Oscar nomination; and it made a star of Foggy. But its very success was Henery's undoing, as the Hawk made only one subsequent appearance (in Jones's other Henery cartoon, which came out in 1948) without the Leghorn, who quickly developed his own supporting cast and left Henery behind. Henery made only four appearances each in the 1940s and '50s, and was last seen in Strangled Eggs (1961).
Henery was much more successful in comic books. In 1943, cartoonist Vivie Risto (the animator who had earlier drawn the definitive model sheet of Elmer Fudd) started using him as a supporting character in Beaky Buzzard stories in the back pages of Dell's Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Comics. Shortly after that, Henery landed his own series there, appearing in each monthly issue until well into the 1950s. In these stories, also by Risto, he was teamed with Ollie Owl, an even less prominent character, who had been in a few cartoons back in the '30s. When comic books shed pages due to rising paper costs, Henery and Ollie moved to the back pages of Bugs Bunny's title.
Henery never had a comic of his own, tho. In fact, he never even appeared on a comic book cover. In both of his venues, he was just a would-be star that never quite made it.