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Comic books and merchandising
A prototype version of Honey Bunny first appeared in the Bugs Bunny's Album comic book from 1953. Instead of being portrayed as his love interest, this version of Honey Bunny is a small white rabbit (and famous African explorer) who is his cousin. The more well-known version of Honey Bunny debuted in Bugs Bunny Comic Book #108 (November 1966) and was a semi-regular fixture in the series of Looney Tunes comic books published by Gold Key throughout the 1960s and 1970s, usually co-starring with Bugs Bunny. Their relationship through the comics was somewhat variable at times; while they were often depicted as a dating couple, there were times when their relationship could be decidedly un-romantic and even adversarial if a particular story demanded it. Honey's physical appearance also varied considerably over time. In some appearances, she had yellow or pale tan fur and wore a bow between her ears (which were worn down instead of pointing up). She was later drawn to a very "Bugs Bunny-like" model with gray fur that made her look nearly identical to Bugs himself, aside from her female clothing. Eventually, however, Honey was redesigned to a more visibly feminine model. While she still shared Bugs' basic coloration and design, her facial features (primarily her mouth and muzzle) and tail-tuft were made a bit smaller to give them a softer, more delicate appearance, her eyes were made a little larger and drawn with more prominent feminine eyelashes, and her female curves were given a bit more emphasis. This later version, which began appearing in the early 1970s, became the new "official" model and was used frequently in various Looney Tunes merchandise throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
Animation and other media
Officially, she is considered a member of the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters, even though she has never officially appeared in a single animated short; her appearances were limited solely to promotional and ancillary merchandising items. However, a yellow female rabbit (who is unnamed in the cartoon) makes a cameo appearance in the closing scene of the Bugs Bunny's Thanksgiving Diet animated television special in 1978. She also appeared in The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle video game in 1989 and the Bugs Bunny's Birthday Ball pinball game in 1990. The most recent mention of Honey was in the book "Looney Tunes: The Official Visual Guide," where Honey is referred to as a former travel companion of Bugs Bunny.
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In the mid-1990s, Warner Bros. started working on Space Jam, and there were plans to feature Honey Bunny as Bugs Bunny's female counterpart; this is evidenced by an early sketch of Honey in her "Bugs-like" design wearing a leotard themed around the U.S. flag. However, some artists commented that she looked too much like Bugs himself in drag. The character then went through a redesign, which was scrapped because McDonalds', who had signed a contract to sell Space Jam-themed Happy Meal toys, felt that this proposed iteration looked too young to be romantically paired up with Bugs. The original 1960s version of Honey was hence updated for the film; among various proposed names for the updated Honey were "Bunni Bunny", "Lola Buni", "Lola Rabbit", and even "Daisy Lou". She was eventually given the name Lola Bunny.