SNIFFLESOriginal Medium: Theatrical Animation
Released by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1939
Creator: Chuck Jones
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Sniffles the Mouse was the first continuing cartoon character created by Chuck Jones, whose illustrious career in animation runs the gamut from Private Snafu to
The Grinch, and points beyond — including major bodies of work on such stars as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Tom & Jerry. Unfortunately for Sniffles, Jones had not yet reached the peak of his creative powers when the cute li'l feller made his debut.
Sniffles first appeared in Naughty but Mice, a Warner Bros. cartoon released May 20, 1939. His voice was done by Bernice Hansen, who also spoke for Andy Panda over at Walter Lantz's studio. Like several of Hansen's other late '30s characters, he suffered from terminal cuteness. Still, he appeared in a dozen or so cartoons over the next few years, before being phased out in favor of more up-tempo Jones creations, such as Ralph Phillips, Hubie & Bertie and The Three Bears. Then he was absent from the big screen for a half-century, before making an appearance with the rest of the Warner characters in Space Jam (which, by the way, was his only crossover with his compatriots).
Unlike many more prominent characters, who came along a bit too late, Sniffles happened to be a going concern in 1941, when Dell Comics published the first issue of Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Comics. Thus, he secured a slot in its back pages that long outlasted his stint in cartoons. There, he teamed up with a little girl named Mary Jane, who could wish herself down to his size.
Of those who remember Sniffles today, most recall him only from those comic book stories, which continued throughout the 1940s and '50s, and even into the '60s. If not for them, he'd be like Gabby Goat, Beaky Buzzard and Conrad Cat — just another early Warner Bros. cartoon character that didn't make it.