Monthly Archives: April 2009

Chuck Jones Incognito

GICLEE152 web

"Sunbathers" original watercolor by Chuck Jones

Although Chuck Jones’ film credits identified him for
more than six decades as a director of Warner Bros. animated pictures, his
stature as a graphic artist is little recognized by the public.  In addition to
the trying requirements of any director unifying story, layouts, animation,
music, dialogue, etc. into a finished film, he was also personally
instrumental in the graphic styling of his pictures. 

GICLEE-149 web

"Manhattan Beach" original oil on canvas by Chuck Jones

Dedicated as he was to animation as the new graphic
medium of his time, Jones had never forgotten that drawing the land and people
around him was imperative to assure new ideas as to shape and color and design. 
For many years, he drew and painted the human figure and the landscape in search
for new gesture and new expression.  This study is reflected in the freshness of
his professional work.

GICLEE190 web  

"Pigtails & Red Ribbons" original watercolor by Chuck Jones

Steeped in an awareness of the importance of dramatics,
humor, action and rhythm in telling an animated story, he managed to instill
into his still drawings and paintings these same qualities.

 

GICLEE153 web 

"Bus Queue-London" original watercolor by Chuck Jones

Although many artists skilled in making still drawings
have enriched animation, seldom has an expert in animation contributed so much
to the great tradition of the still drawing.  Here, caricature, an essential
factor in all great art, has been exploited on a high level.  Penetrating
observation reveals new and daring aspects of ordinary people and their
actions.  Each drawing is a  statement of an experience and a venture into new
graphic structure.  Here, content and form are balanced to insure the intrinsic
value of each drawing and painting as a work of art.

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

 

# 11 Post: (Part Two)

Knowing this I want you to try your best to make a go of this school.  I want you to give it an honest, fair try.  I believe you are doing just this.  I do not believe I am telling you anything you are not already doing.  

Frankly, I know you are disappointed, I know that we all expected too much.  It was pretty naïve to expect perfection.  It was fairy-tale-like not to know that [a magazine article] would accentuate the positive.  

Frankly, I know that you are homesick, as I am homesick for you.  

Frankly I know that you are lonely and that you will remain so until your acquaintanceships solidify.  It is even possible (but not probable) that all the tings that seem so strange now will gradually become the familiar, even that fantastic schedule will lose much of its sting as you settle into it.

You know, I hope, that there is nothing in the foregoing that indicates any need for you to put up with the unbearable.  You are not sentenced to anything.  

I am soliciting your confidence, reasonable or unreasonable.  I am assuring you that you have my perfect confidence, my undeviating respect and of course my deep and untroubled love.  There is no situation, this or any other, that cannot be changed by simply telling me that, in your considered opinion, it should be changed.  You don’t have to explain.  Believe me too, darling, nothing is worth bearing up under just because it cost a lot of money.  That’s like stuffing down a large unpleasant dinner just because it was expensive and because you’ve already paid for it.

[to be continued in Part 3]

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 11 Post: (Part Two)

Knowing this I want you to try your best to make a go of this school.  I want you to give it an honest, fair try.  I believe you are doing just this.  I do not believe I am telling you anything you are not already doing. 

Frankly, I know you are disappointed, I know that we all expected too much.  It was pretty naïve to expect perfection.  It was fairy-tale-like not to know that [a magazine article] would accentuate the positive. 

Frankly, I know that you are homesick, as I am homesick for you. 

Frankly I know that you are lonely and that you will remain so until your acquaintenceships solidify.  It is even possible (but not probable) that all the tings that seem so strange now will gradually become the familiar, even that fantastic schedule will lose much of its sting as you set-tle into it.

You know, I hope, that there is nothing in the foregoing that indicates any need for you to put up with the unbearable.  You are not sentenced to anything. 

I am soliciting your confidence, reasonable or unreason-able.  I am assuring you that you have my perfect confi-dence, my undeviating respect and of course my deep and un-troubled love.  There is no situation, this or any other, that cannot be changed by simply telling me that, in your considered opinion, it should be changed.  You don’t have to explain.  Believe me too, darling, nothing is worth bearing up under just because it cost a lot of money.  That’s like stuffing down a large unpleasant dinner just because it was expensive and because you’ve already paid for it.

[to be continued]

Chuck Jones: One Side of the Paper, Please!

By Craig Kausen

I was asked recently about the lore that Chuck only drew on one side of a piece of paper.

The short answer is that, yes, he rarely drew on both sides.

I think from a purely practical point of view having images on both
sides of the paper often created a difficulty to view or reference both
drawings.  He used to jest that it certainly would have been
troublesome if da Vinci had painted the Mona Lisa on one side of a
canvas and the Last Supper on the other.

The entire practice of using only one side of a piece of paper
actually started for him and his siblings when they were very young. 
As Chuck would tell the story, my great-grandfather, Charles Adams
Jones, started a new business venture quite often.  Each time he
created a new company, he bought reams of new paper and boxes and
boxes of new pencils, each complete with the new company name and
letterhead.  And, invariably, the new venture would find its demise
sooner than later.

He notes in the documentary Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood,
“We were forbidden—actually forbidden—to draw on both sides of the
paper.  Because, of course, Father wanted to get rid of the stationery
from a defunct business as soon as possible, and he brought logic to
bear in sustaining his viewpoint: ‘You never know when you’re going to
make a good drawing.’”

On a rare occasion, we would find the beginnings of a sketch on one
side of a page and a completely different portrayal on the reverse.  I
never knew if this was just an abandonment or an oversight as the paper
flowed easily through his home studio.

I include here a few sketches from different times of his life as a memory of his creative endeavors on paper…

img-01-032

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roco-01-021

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 11 Post: (Part One)

Thursday, Oct. 2, 1952

My very very dearest Linda;

This leap-frogging letter routine makes it a little diffi-cult to answer any current problems.  We received your two letters yesterday—one here at the studio, one at home—but in the meantime I had written at least three and possibly four to you.  You will have read and maybe answered some of these by the time you receive this, and so it goes, ad in-finitum.  Which reminds me of a poem that has no bearing on the subject at all:

Dogs have fleas, and fleas have fleas
Upon their back to bite ‘em.
Those fleas have fleas and they have fleas
So on..ad in-fin-i-tum.

Doesn’t scan too well, but it is a lovely thought, isn’t it? 

Now back to the subject:  As I told you in the letter I wrote on Tuesday, there are serious and very real difficul-ties to adjusting to a new environment: in simple terms, it’s tough leaving home. 

I miss you more than I can say and I’m in the same old sur-rounds, everything is the same, except you are missing and it is damned painful and requires some powerful philoso-phizing to make it bearable. 

You, on the other hand, are the only familiar thing in com-pletely alien surroundings.  You are being subjected to a severe, a very severe to you, routine.  Your life at home has been an almost completely relaxed one.  You have come and gone pretty much as you pleased.  You have done almost no chores beyond the simple ones of keeping yourself rela-tively clean.  This has been the pattern of your life and it has been pleasant and fruitful.  Within that pattern you have grown to a fine, relaxed and intelligent girl. 

Eventually, however, you would have had to come up against what you are now encountering.  Sooner or later every per-son who hopes to become a mature adult must subject himself (herself) to discipline.  Not because it is good, particu-larly, but because that is the kind of a life one must live in our society.  For you it is coming early.  Perhaps, if we had known that it was going to be anything like this, we would not have sent you there and you would not have wanted to go.  Then we would have postponed for a while the neces-sity of coming to grips with this thing. 

But if we had, it would simply have been a matter of post-poning the inevitable.  Someday, somehow you would have had to face this situation if you wanted to grow up. 

And let me say now there are many, many people who do not want to grow up.  Among women, particularly, there are too many who simply solve their problems by remaining children. Among your friends here you can probably name several who will undoubtedly do so. 

This is an easy out for a woman because she can generally marry and continue as a kind of housekeeper-daughter to the man she marries.  The man is, as a rule, forced to face the trials and exigencies of life, often in a brutal and terri-fying way if he has been babied by a child type mother.  He is, for instance, often inducted into the Army when he is not much older than you are now and his adoring mother is replaced by a meaty not-so-adoring-sergeant and a pimply bullying corporal, neither very versed in child-psychology.

He is pushed, punched, gouged, driven and snarled at, sneered at and snooped about.  He goes to the toilet in an open john with a long line of toilets side by side with nary a partition.  He almost decides to give up going to the toilet, but finds that nature won’t cooperate.  I do not believe in the military life for most people, but in some cases it has been helpful.  The truth of the matter though, is that this is what a young man must expect in our society, not whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.

All right, my dearest darling, my dearest daughter, I love you, I love you, I love you, indeed I love you more than kisses can express or words convey.  When you are unhappy or disillusioned or when things fail to meet your expecta-tions I want to rise up immediately, to buckle on my rusty armour, to fly forth and destroy whatever is bothering you, to set things in apple pie order, to hold you in my arms, to comfort and warm you and indeed these are the things that my heart is doing to you right now.  There are no ‘buts’ connected with this.  This is how I feel, this is how I shall always feel about you.

[…to be continued next time]

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 11 Post: (Part One)

Thursday, Oct. 2, 1952

My very very dearest Linda;

This leap-frogging letter routine makes it a little diffi-cult to answer any current problems.  We received your two letters yesterday—one here at the studio, one at home—but in the meantime I had written at least three and possibly four to you.  You will have read and maybe answered some of these by the time you receive this, and so it goes, ad in-finitum.  Which reminds me of a poem that has no bearing on the subject at all:

Dogs have fleas, and fleas have fleas
Upon their back to bite ‘em.
Those fleas have fleas and they have fleas
So on..ad in-fin-i-tum.

Doesn’t scan too well, but it is a lovely thought, isn’t it? 

Now back to the subject:  As I told you in the letter I wrote on Tuesday, there are serious and very real difficul-ties to adjusting to a new environment: in simple terms, it’s tough leaving home. 

I miss you more than I can say and I’m in the same old sur-rounds, everything is the same, except you are missing and it is damned painful and requires some powerful philoso-phizing to make it bearable. 

You, on the other hand, are the only familiar thing in com-pletely alien surroundings.  You are being subjected to a severe, a very severe to you, routine.  Your life at home has been an almost completely relaxed one.  You have come and gone pretty much as you pleased.  You have done almost no chores beyond the simple ones of keeping yourself rela-tively clean.  This has been the pattern of your life and it has been pleasant and fruitful.  Within that pattern you have grown to a fine, relaxed and intelligent girl. 

Eventually, however, you would have had to come up against what you are now encountering.  Sooner or later every per-son who hopes to become a mature adult must subject himself (herself) to discipline.  Not because it is good, particu-larly, but because that is the kind of a life one must live in our society.  For you it is coming early.  Perhaps, if we had known that it was going to be anything like this, we would not have sent you there and you would not have wanted to go.  Then we would have postponed for a while the neces-sity of coming to grips with this thing. 

But if we had, it would simply have been a matter of post-poning the inevitable.  Someday, somehow you would have had to face this situation if you wanted to grow up. 

And let me say now there are many, many people who do not want to grow up.  Among women, particularly, there are too many who simply solve their problems by remaining children. Among your friends here you can probably name several who will undoubtedly do so. 

This is an easy out for a woman because she can generally marry and continue as a kind of housekeeper-daughter to the man she marries.  The man is, as a rule, forced to face the trials and exigencies of life, often in a brutal and terri-fying way if he has been babied by a child type mother.  He is, for instance, often inducted into the Army when he is not much older than you are now and his adoring mother is replaced by a meaty not-so-adoring-sergeant and a pimply bullying corporal, neither very versed in child-psychology.

He is pushed, punched, gouged, driven and snarled at, sneered at and snooped about.  He goes to the toilet in an open john with a long line of toilets side by side with nary a partition.  He almost decides to give up going to the toilet, but finds that nature won’t cooperate.  I do not believe in the military life for most people, but in some cases it has been helpful.  The truth of the matter though, is that this is what a young man must expect in our society, not whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.

All right, my dearest darling, my dearest daughter, I love you, I love you, I love you, indeed I love you more than kisses can express or words convey.  When you are unhappy or disillusioned or when things fail to meet your expecta-tions I want to rise up immediately, to buckle on my rusty armour, to fly forth and destroy whatever is bothering you, to set things in apple pie order, to hold you in my arms, to comfort and warm you and indeed these are the things that my heart is doing to you right now.  There are no ‘buts’ connected with this.  This is how I feel, this is how I shall always feel about you.

[…to be continued next time]

Fun Facts About Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote and the Road
Runner are two of the world’s most beloved cartoon foes. This dueling duet made their cinematic debut in Fast and
Furry-ous
on September 16, 1949. It was almost three years before the next Wile E.
Coyote and the Road Runner film, Beep,
Beep
would appear. 

CJXCEL-41 copy

Over a span of
fourteen years, their creator Chuck Jones, would direct a total of twenty three
short films (1949 – 1963), showing that the food chain isn’t what it’s cracked
up to be…at least not for this bewildered coyote. The cartoon Beep Prepared was nominated for an
Academy Award
(tm) in 1961.

Chuck Jones and Michael
Maltese created Fast and Furry-ous as
a parody of chase movies that CJXCEL-82 copy were popular at the time. Unwittingly, their
chase parody was better than the rest and they became the chase films of the 20th century.  

In his book Chuck Amuck, Jones writes: “I first
became interested in the coyote while devouring Mark Twain’s Roughing It at the age of seven. I had
heard of the coyote only in passing references from passing adults and thought
of it – if I thought of it at all – as a sort of dissolute collie.  As it turns out, that is just about what a
coyote is; and no one saw it more clearly than Mark Twain.

Jones also writes: “The
author’s (Mark Twain) description of a coyote went like this: 'The coyote is a long, slim,
sick and sorry-looking skeleton with a grey wolf skin stretched over it…he is a
living, breathing allegory of want. Who could resist such an enchanting creature?’"

As for the Road Runner’s
trademark sound, “it came from a background artist named Paul Julian,” says
Chuck. “One day he was coming down the hall carrying a lot of background
paintings and couldn’t see where he was going, so he just went ‘Beep, Beep’.
When I heard it, I realized that’s the sound the Road Runner should make."

In animation, it’s important
to maintain a consistency with each character. For the Coyote-Road Runner
series, Jones and his staff were always cognizant of the following rules:

RULE 1.  The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except
by going “Beep-Beep!”

RULE 2.  No outside force can harm the Coyote – only
his own ineptitude or the failure of ACME products.

  CJXCEL-65 copy RULE 3.  The Coyote could stop anytime – if he were
not a fanatic. “A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten
his aim” – George Santayana.

RULE 4.  No dialog ever except “Beep-Beep!”

RULE 5.  The Road Runner must stay on the road –
otherwise, logically, he would not be called a Road Runner.

RULE 6.  All action must be confined to the natural
environment of the two characters – the Southwest American desert.

RULE 7.  All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical
conveniences must be obtained from the ACME Corporation.

RULE 8.  Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s
greatest enemy.

RULE 9.  The Coyote is always more humiliated than
harmed by his failures. 

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

 # 10 Post:

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 1952

Dearest Linda:

Good old payday! Your little red radio is on the table behind me, playing “Syncopated Clock”. I brought it down because the World Series starts today. However, this is just coming over: “Mrs. C.F. of Atlanta, Georgia complains of haggard lines around her chin and her skin hangs in folds when she tries to reduce.” She’s also a “harsh laxative addict”. Bright kid.

Just turned it off. From the shape of the last paragraph I don’t have your skill at writing and listening to the radio at the same time. I find it extremely distracting.

As I look around the room I see four pictures of you and two pictures by you. The ones you drew for me are both horse pictures (surprise! Surprise!), one an ink drawing and the other one of your early watercolors of two stallions fighting by a cliff edge. Both surprisingly good, both have always afforded me lots of pleasure.

The photographs of you start with a two-year-old you by the fire place at 904 Strand Linda 12-30-39 and then the oil sketch I did of you at the drawing board at the big house on Passmore, and last the colored one taken, at about eleven I guess, when we were last living at the beach. In that one you have the first dress, a Lantz, that I bought for you with my own little hands.

I need a nice current photo of you; if you get a good one, send it to me, will you? Or get somebody to shoot one for me. Tell ‘em I’ll trade a drawing for a good picture. Nothing like a little bribery.

I’m working on a new Daffy Duck right now. One in which he again plays the role of Dripalong Daffy, the Masked Avenger. I love Daffy dearly, he is so completely and foolishly human. I think he serves to accent all the human frailties and vanities and conceits and is funny doing it. He’s a pleasure to work on, as oddly enough, is old Porky, who plays a sort of Gabby Hayes part in this film. Comedy relief for Daffy.

How is it going? Branded any cattle yet? Found any heads on the bureau lately? Friend I used to have when at medical school used to slip a human ear into his girl’s purse when out on a date.

Dammit, I hate to use the same word twice in one sentence, and “used” is such an awkward word at that.

Ione, Donn, Ken, Benny, Mike and of course Dottie send their very, very love.
As do I

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 10 Post:

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 1952

Dearest Linda;

Good old payday!  Your little red radio is on the table behind me, playing “Syncopated Clock”.  I brought it down because the World Series starts today.  However, this is just coming over:  “Mrs. C.F. of Atlanta, Georgia complains of haggard lines around her chin and her skin hangs in folds when she tries to reduce.”  She’s also a “harsh laxative addict”.  Bright kid.

Just turned it off.  From the shape of the last paragraph I don’t have your skill at writing and listening to the radio at the same time.  I find it extremely distracting.

As I look around the room I see four pictures of you and two pictures by you.  The ones you drew for me are both horse pictures (surprise! Surprise!), one an ink drawing and the other one of your early watercolors of two stallions fighting by a cliff edge.  Both surprisingly good, both have always afforded me lots of pleasure.  Linda 12-30-39

The photographs of you start with a two-year-old you  by the fire place at 904 Strand and then the oil sketch I did of you at the drawing board at the big house on Passmore, then the sweet pictures of you when at Valley View (I’d forgotten there were two, that makes five of you in the room) and last the colored one taken, at about eleven I guess, when we were last living at the beach.  In that one you have the first dress, a Lantz that I bought for you with my own little hands.  I need a nice current photo of you; if you get a good one, send it to me, will you?  Or get somebody to shoot one for me.  Tell ‘em I’ll trade a drawing for a good picture.  Nothing like a little bribery.

I’m working on a new Daffy Duck right now.  One in which he again plays the role of Dripalong Daffy, the Masked Avenger.  I love Daffy dearly, he is so completely and foolishly human.  I think he serves to accent all the human frailties and vanities and conceits and is funny doing it.  He’s a pleasure to work on, as oddly enough, is old Porky, who plays a sort of Gabby Hayes part in this film.  Comedy relief for Daffy.

How is it going?  Branded any cattle yet?  Found any heads on the bureau lately?  Friend I used to have when at medical school used to slip a human ear into his girl’s purse when out on a date.

Dammit, I hate to use the same word twice in one sentence, and “used” is such an awkward word at that.

Ione, Donn, Ken, Benny, Mike and of course Dottie send their very, very love.

As do I