More and more often nowadays we see comic or cartoon-style tattoos on various parts of the body: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny tattoos…you name it. All the beloved Disney or Warner Brothers cartoons have become an integral part of our cultural heritage, so why shouldn’t we celebrate them in glorious Technicolor as tats, if we so wish? Well, one reason we shouldn’t is that Mickey and co. are quite simply private property and depicting them in tattoos is a form of trespass. Their original creators, or the studios that bought them, own all copyrights so reproducing them in any form is technically illegal.
If you can find a tattoo artist who specialises in this type of artwork, he will probably have acquired copyright permission to reproduce certain images, but it does not seem very likely that the vast majority of artists would have applied just on the off-chance that a client might want a Bugs Bunny tattoo on his arm. However, it is always worth asking and establishing the position with the tattooist beforehand.
Bugs Bunny first appeared on screen in 1938 as the cheeky adversary of Porky Pig in the Warner Bros. cartoon ‘Porky’s Hare Hunt’. One of the directors of this was Ben “Bugs” Hardaway, for whom the goofy rabbit was named. However, his actual creator has long been disputed because the original rabbit was different in certain essentials.