Monthly Archives: September 2010

Bel Canto Opera & the Rabbit of Seville

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“Rabbit of Seville” 16 field pan cel art edition created from Chuck Jones’ original line drawing.  (Click on image for special limited time offer.)

Today, the Seattle Opera Blog posted an article about Bel Canto Opera in which they said, “You can hear the Overture to Rossini’s Barber of Seville throughout the great Chuck Jones cartoon The Rabbit of Seville.” 

The article is fascinating reading for anyone who enjoys opera, music, and cartoons (particularly cartoons where opera had such an important impact on the action).  You may read the article by clicking here.


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“The Rabbit of Seville–1950″ a Director’s Cut edition of 200 (hand-painted, gouache on 12 field acetate, 12.5″ x 10.5” unframed).  


 

 

Image of the Day: Horton Hears a Who!

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Original storyboard (5.75” x 6.5”) by Chuck
Jones, mixed media (graphite, watercolor & colored pencil) on MGM
storyboard paper for his 1970 television special, "Horton Hears a Who!"

Preliminary work began on the second Dr. Seuss
and Chuck Jones collaboration before their “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole
Christmas” even aired.  This included not
only pre-production watercolors by Jones, but also layout designs by the
inimitable Maurice Noble.  However, it
would be four more years before their labors would bear fruit and the special
would make its premier, March
19th, 1970
on U.S. television.   

 

Leonard Maltin Writes: Welcome Back, Wile E.

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Film critic, essayist and author, Leonard Maltin, has written a terrific review of the new Warner Bros. theatrical cartoons starring Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.  

"As I discussed earlier this summer, cartoons are making a small but encouraging comeback in theaters this year. If you should happen to see Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole, you’ll be treated to the second of Warner Bros.’ new Road Runner cartoons, Fur of Flying. (The first, titled Coyote Falls, played with Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, and the third, called Rabid Rider, will appear at the head of Yogi Bear in December.) These new widescreen films bring two classic Warner Bros. cartoon stars back to life, and while they transform the graphic characters and backgrounds into sculpted CGI form they remain absolutely true to the spirit of Chuck Jones’ vintage shorts.

That is no accident. Everyone at the revitalized Warner Bros. animation department (Executive producer Sam Register, supervising producers Allison Abbate, Spike Brandt, and Tony Cervone, and especially writer Tom Sheppard and director Matthew O’Callaghan) took their mission seriously. They wanted to “do right” by these great cartoon characters, and realized they—

—were in for a drubbing if they messed up. Thanks to staff producer Katherine Concepion, I was privileged to attend a special studio screening arranged for Chuck Jones’ daughter Linda and her son Craig. There, Register reported that senior Warners management was enthusiastic about the prospect of reviving their sidelined stars, and are so happy with the results that they have commissioned more new shorts with other members of the Looney Tunes cast. (There is also a new, non-CGI Looney Tunes series scheduled to launch on Cartoon Network next year.)

Click here to read the rest of his review.

Read our article on these new cartoons, by clicking here.  
 

Image of the Day: My Bunny Lies Over the Sea

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Tunneling to Los Angeles’ La Brea Tar Pits, Bugs
Bunny makes that fateful wrong turn and ends up in Scotland to discover an old
woman being attacked by a monster.  It
turns out the monster is a bagpipe and the old woman is McCrory.  Much hilarity (and golf gags) ensues.  The Charles M. Jones directed “My Bunny Lies
Over the Sea” premiered in theaters December 14, 1948.  This is an original 12 field production cel, gouache on celluloid (10.5″ x 12.5″) accompanied by a hand-painted presentation background.  


 

Image of the Day: Who Scent You

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“Who Scent You” premiered in theaters nationwide
on April 23, 1960.  In this Pepé le Pew vehicle, Chuck Jones
along with writer Michael Maltese continued their examination of all things le
Francais.  With classics like “Your
aloneness is almost ovair” and “You are my peanut, I am your brittle,” who
could argue with the e’scent’ial reasoning of this amorous skunk?  This original layout drawing by Chuck Jones includes his dialog notes (graphite on 12 field animation paper, 10.5″ x 12.5″).  

 

Image of the Day: Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears

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 "Tell me more about my eyes! “ coos Mama Bear as
Bugs Bunny frantically looks for a way to escape the cooking pot of the Bear
family.  The Chuck Jones ‘supervised’
film of “Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears” was released February, 26, 1944.  Mama Bear was voiced by Bea Benaderet
(Petticoat Junction.)  This is an
original production drawing of Bugs Bunny from the film with a recreated
overlay drawing of Mama Bear.   

 

Roger Ebert on Chuck Jones (and 3 of Jones’ Masterpieces)

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Original layout drawing by Chuck Jones (graphite on 12 field animation paper, 10.5" x 12.5") for his 1957 short film, "What's Opera, Doc?".  

We stumbled upon (isn't the internet grand?) an article by film critic Roger Ebert that he had written several years ago about three of Chuck Jones' masterpieces.  "Duck Amuck", "One Froggy Evening" and "What's Opera, Doc?" are arguably the crème de la crème of Jones' prolific career, so much so that the Smithsonian's National Film Registry added them to their list of archived films.

Ebert, in his inimitable style, lays out a great argument for Jones' mastery of the genre, "The subtext of "Duck Amuck" is Daffy's desire to be the star of the studio, and his career-long rivalry with Bugs Bunny, who came along just as Daffy was becoming Warner's star. In both "Duck Amuck" and "What's Opera, Doc?" Jones gives himself freedom to rewrite cartoon conventions.

"In the opera spoof, bits of half a dozen Wagner operas create a pastiche of romantic turmoil as Elmer woos Bugs. There are sensational shots (the opening lightning storm) and quieter moments that surprise us, as when Elmer Fudd seems sad and takes the plot seriously."

To read the article in its entirety, click here.  
 

Image of the Day: Bewitched Bunny

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Original layout drawing by Chuck Jones for his
1954 “Bewitched Bunny”, graphite on two-hole punch 12 field animation
paper.  This drawing was used to create
the 2004 cel art edition “Bewitched Bunny—1954" seen below.  The cel has been signed by June Foray, the original voice actor.  (Correction:  Bea Benaderet voiced Witch Hazel in "Bewitched Bunny" and Ms. Foray in her subsequent cartoons.  Please see the comments.)  


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Happy Birthday, Chuck! A Letter from Craig Kausen

Today, September 21st 2010, would have been
my grandfather’s 98th birthday.  I have said all day that today IS
his 98th birthday rather than ‘would have been.’ To this day, I have
thoughts of asking him a question when I need some more detail about a film,
some insight into a business issue, or just to see what he thinks about a film
or a book.  Invariably it takes a beat or two for me to smile and remember that
he is not at the end of a phone call today.  However, I still gather inspiration
from what I learned from him all those nearly 40 years I am so grateful to have
had with him.  I hear him telling me “Don’t get into a pissing contest with a
skunk” as I ponder how to deal with a difficult business interaction or “always
take your work seriously, but never take yourself too seriously” when I feel
mired into the mud of life’s inevitable quagmires. Or I hear him yell
“Wahooooo!!!” when I finish something I’m proud of just as he did when I was
four and he jumped in the pool fully clothed as I swam for the first
time.

I wrote in a letter to him when I was a child (and
quoted it again in a letter in 2000) that if they could give an Academy Award
for being a grandfather, he would certainly win that
one.

I am blessed to have known him and to continue to be
inspired by him as a man, by his humor-filled view of life, and by the joy that
I see in oodles (that’s a big number in my mind) of people around the world over
many, many generations.

I celebrate his 98th birthday as a gift to
all of us, but as I know I have some of Daffy Duck in me, I celebrate the gift
most of all for me.

Craig

Image of the Day: Inki and the Minah Bird

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Original Chuck Jones layout drawing (graphite on 2 hole-punch 12 field animation paper, 10.5" x 12.5") for his 1943 short cartoon, "Inki and the Minah Bird".  

With a tip of the hat to the surrealists holding
court in painterly circles in Europe—Chuck Jones commands an outrageously
magical brush in this pastiche of a film. 
Read what you will into its rhythms and syncopations, appearances and
disappearances and outright lunacy, but don’t deny its hold on your
imagination.