Google News Archive has added a bunch of stuff, and while it's still basically impossible to find anything with it, I've occasionally come across an article I hadn't seen before. Like this article on Bob Clampett from the Dec. 20, 1975 issue of the Eugene Register-Guard.
Clampett, shown at the top of the article in his trademark glasses, Moe Howard haircut and cartoon-character patches, was promoting Bugs Bunny Superstar at the time, but what he was mostly promoting was himself and his place in cartoon history. The article is sort of a greatest-hits collection of Clampett anecdotes where he claims to have created every cartoon character you ever heard of, and was constantly called in to save the work of his inept colleagues. Here's the key passage, with that very Clampettian combination of modesty and credit-hogging:
He uses Porky Pig as an example of how popular cartoon characters came to be created.
Briefly, the cartoonists were to create a family of animals for a cartoon series based on the popular "Our Gang" movies.
Clampett's contribution was a pig and cat named Porky and Beans. Audience response to the pig turned out to be terrific, and cartoons were ordered up based just on the pig.
Bugs' creation was somewhat more complex, and stretched over a period of several years.
It began when a studio executive took up rabbit hunting, and told funny stories of rabbits outsmarting him. Clampett drew a few caricatures of the scenes and, he says, "to make them a little more derisive, I changed the word from 'rabbit' to 'wabbit.'"
Then, as they say, years passed. In 1936, Clampett and another man named Tex Avery came up with Daffy Duck which, Clampett says modestly, "made quite a hit." A couple of years later, another couple of men were doing a similar cartoon which wasn't jelling, and which was to be based on hunting sequences.
Clampett was put on it, and although it was supposed to be a duck hunt, that didn't work for him. He tried other kinds of hunts "and then I remembered the old rabbit hunt pictures I'd drawn."
He dug them out, and spent a weekend working out gags involving them. That became "Porky's Hare Hunt," released in February, 1938. It still essentially belonged to the first two men who had worked on it, though.
They also put out a second one, but Clampett says, "They really only understood Daffy Duck -- not this rabbit."
Eventually, Clampett and Avery were put back on the project, where, together, they came up with the "wabbit" voice used by Elmer Fudd, and the phrase that was to enter the language as a unit unto itself -- "What's Up, Doc?"
The result of that collaboration was the actual birth of Bugs Bunny in a 1940 film called "A Wild Hare."
What it comes down to, Clampett says, is that "I certainly can't take sole credit, but on the other hand, I don't intend to be left out of it, either."
As I've said in the past, I think Clampett's inflated claims, as well as the angry response of Chuck Jones and others, needs to be understood in the context of the time, and the context was that these men, beginning to realize that their best work was behind them, felt a need to establish and solidify their reputations. You'll notice that in the article Clampett has "little but scorn" for limited TV animation, which is a 180 from where he was at the time of the Beany and Cecil cartoon, when he was openly enthusiastic about television and talked of his WB days as more of a learning experience, a training ground. By 1975, Clampett and many other old-timers knew they weren't going to get rich in TV the way Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera had, and that their TV work didn't measure up artistically to what they had done in the old theatrical shorts. (You'll notice that in the '75 article he, or the interviewer, or both, elide the fact that Beany was a TV cartoon as well as a puppet show.)
Clampett's words are those of a man who now knows what he's going to be remembered for, if anything, and wants to make sure that he is, in his own words, not "left out of it." Just as Jones, Avery and others weren't happy at the possibility that their artistic legacies might wind up being as That Guy Who Helped the Great Bob Clampett.