Wile E. Coyote


The coyote is quite an elegant character, but because of his build he has a problem conveying what he feels he is. In silhouette he looks like a dissolute Bugs. His arms and legs are much bonier than Bugs’s (when people are skinny, their elbows and shoulders look bigger), but their body shape is the same. The two characters have identical skulls, but the Coyote’s cheeks stand absurdly proud, whereas Bugs’s are confidently contained. Even the ears are similar, with the difference that the Coyote’s are a little bit broken. Wile E.’s hungry look is completed by a little pot belly.

The main change in the way I drew the Coyote over the years involved the knees. When he comes to a stop in the later films, one knee is a little higher than the other, adding to his ragged look. These knees and the pot belly are usually enough to identify the Coyote. And I usually give him an extra toenail (I like to leave one hanging out.) The way I draw the Coyote’s fur adds to the unkempt impression. The fur is shown not over all the body but only where it changes direction over a joint or a curve in the face. Fur is not obedient to the body; it will cling only as long as the surface remains fairly flat. The Coyote’s hair is perfectly willing to cling to the upper part of his cheek, but it peels off in the break, just as it does on Bugs Bunny’s face. In the same way, excess flesh creases in the folds of a heavy animal’s body.

The ragged tail was inspired by Japanese paintings of stormy oceans. When the Japanese artist wants to make a breaking wave frightening, he draws it like hostile claws rather than in the softer Western way. If you have a boat hanging on top of a wave in a Japanese painting, you know it’s going to go over. These are waves to die on, not to surf on. The normal way to draw the tail of any animal, from a squirrel to a dog, is to make it round and soft like the Western waves; reversing this created the Coyote’s tail. It is the difference between concave curves and convex curves, between the cuddly and the ratty.

Wile E. Coyote appears in:

  • Fast and Furry-ous
  • Operation: Rabbit
  • Beep Beep
  • Going! Going! Gosh!
  • Zipping Along
  • Stop! Look! and Hasten!
  • Ready, Set, Zoom!
  • Guided Muscle
  • Gee Whiz-z-z
  • There They Go-Go-Go
  • To Hare is Human
  • Scrambled Aches
  • Zoom and Bored
  • Whoa Be-gone!
  • Hook, Line and Stinker
  • Hip Hip-Hurray!
  • Hot Rod and Reel!
  • Wild About Hurry
  • Fastest with the Mostest
  • Rabbit's Feat
  • Hopalong Casualty
  • Zip 'n' Snort
  • Lickety Splat
  • Compressed Hare
  • Beep Prepared
  • Zoom at the Top
  • Hare-breadth Hurry
  • To Beep or Not to Beep
  • War and Pieces