Happy Birthday Chuck Jones! A Fan’s Tribute

Mark Hammermeister at MarkDraws created this wonderful portrait of Chuck Jones in honor of his 97th birthday.  We were so taken by it that we felt it should be shared with our readers. 

Mark Draws image of CJ

Here's what Mark had to say:  "Anyone who knows me, knows what an animation nut I am. My favorite cartoon director, hands down, is the great Chuck Jones.
Had he lived, tomorrow, September 21, would have been his 97th
birthday. In honor, I decided I wanted to paint the great man. I opted
not to go for my usual caricature, and instead rendered this as a
straight portrait. This was done as a combination of Corel Painter and

Thank you, Mark, for the heartfelt portrait. 

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Chuck Jones! A Fan’s Tribute

  1. Barb Jacobs

    Once in a while we are blessed with moments where we get to meet someone that inspires us completely. Moments that we can come back to again and again in moments of self doubt. This is a story about one of those times.
    Sometime around the age of three, I announced to everyone I knew that I was an artist. A few years later in first grade, I decided that I wanted to tell stories with pictures. Either in books or the field of animation, it didn’t matter. I was ‘a cartoonist’.
    Despite my lifelong love for Disney classic movies, when it came to animation Bugs Bunny was really my favorite, and I never missed the Bugs & Daffy show on Saturday morning. Who doesn’t love the original Warner Brothers cartoons? Over the years, I came to realize that there were some cartoons that I liked better than others. Bugs and the opera singer. Bugs and the little Scottish golfer. Bugs and Marvin. Rabbit Season… Eventually I noticed that all of my favorites were directed by the same guy. “Charles M. Jones.”
    When I was eleven years old, a shop opened in my hometown called Gallery Lainsburg. Not really a gallery, it was actually one of the area’s first dealers in animation art: model sheets, animation drawings, and production cels. The first time I went there I thought I would die. Right there in my little paws were original drawings from Snow White, cels from Pinocchio, a Bambi model sheet, just to name a few. And many signed cels and lithographs from my hero, Chuck Jones. I wanted every one of them, but with the hefty price tags on everything I couldn’t take anything with me. So I had to ‘visit’ them.
    I became a regular fixture at that place. Looking back, I probably drove the curator nuts, but once a week I would go downtown with my mom, and head to the gallery to see if anything new came in. I would look at the pieces they had for the millionth time, carefully holding them in their archival board sleeves, and imagining that I drew them.
    One afternoon a couple years later my mom said, “I’m taking you down to Gallery Lainsburg, they have a special guest. Why don’t you bring some of your cartoons?” She didn’t tell me who this guest was, but I was pretty excited to show anyone my work, so I gathered up my latest doodles and characters I was working on. I was in a ‘furry’ stage- all of my characters were animals and I had ‘model sheets’ I created showing the characters at every angle. I also had made a few crude animation cels using Sharpies to ink, and acrylics to paint on the back. I gathered it all up and we headed downtown.
    For once, the little Lainsburg office was full of people. My mom and I stood in the doorway at the back of the crowd, myself tall and gawky, my drawings in a messy pile that I peered out of. I was suddenly nervous, and not sure I wanted to show my work. In the far corner of the room, surrounded by people with unframed animation cels, books and drawings for him to sign, was a gray-haired man with glasses and a goatee. He didn’t look like an Iowan. A guy with a notebook was interviewing him, and Mrs. Lainsburg was grinning.
    “That’s Chuck Jones,” said my mom. “Maybe he would take a look at your stuff.”
    If I was nervous before, now I was petrified. This was The Chuck Jones. The Bugs guy. The guy that made the frog. The Grinch. Every WB cartoon I ever loved and watched three thousand times was this guy’s idea.
    I shook my head like Beaky Buzzard and tried to meld into the wallpaper. Despite this vain attempt at invisibility among the droves of people with their pricey cels, Chuck looked up and he spied me, the one kid in the room. I will never forget that moment when he looked up and said, “Hey, what have you got there?”
    “Who, ME? Well, I just…well. I just brought some drawings…”
    “Let’s have a look.”
    I stumbled through the grinning crowd and took a seat next to Mr. Jones, and nervously set my pile of pictures in front of him. He looked at my work and appraised it, not as though I was a child, but as a peer, a fellow animator that he was directing. He made revisions, he doodled in the margins. From time to time he would say, “Here’s another ten dollar tip for you…it’s free today,” and cast that curly Chuck Jones smile at me. The Des Moines Register reporter scowled at me. He was being completely ignored while Mr. Jones gave me my lesson.
    For the next forty-five minutes, Chuck Jones acted as though there was no one else in that room. A born teacher, he gave me art advice that’s never left me, and I use his ‘$10.00 tips’ to this day. Wrapping up my ‘art lesson’, he took one of my homemade cels, drew Bugs and signed it with a personal message to me. I must have smiled non-stop for three days after that.
    As I turned to go he said one last thing. “Hope to see you again in a few years. You have some real talent.”
    In the end, I never went to WB. Or Disney. I got married. Stayed in my hometown. Had babies. But I never forgot my dream of telling stories with pictures, I just put it on the back burner. Today, I’m making a go of it in webcomics, and like every other artist, I’m faced with the ups and downs of being a creative type struggling to be seen, struggling to survive against the competition. At those times when I become enveloped in self-doubt I glance up at my wall at a picture of my character and Bugs Bunny, and I remember: hey, Chuck thought I was okay.
    Thanks a million, Mr. Jones.

  2. Gary Waggoner 7451 Warner Ave, Huntington Beach, CA

    I too was fortunate enough to meet the great man. He signed a number of cels for me and I treasure them. I believe it was at one of the holiday parties and his wife, Marian, was ill. He decided to stay with her but said he’d make it up to us for being a no show.
    I left my art work at the studio and when I picked it up a couple of weeks later, Chuck had drawn Bugs with an inscription about the cell and signed the art on the back side.
    You might think that someone who had that much fame (and an Oscar) would be standoffish to “regular” folks like me but he was always warm and willing to chat and hear what you had to say.
    He will always be missed.


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