Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy Holidays from Chuck Redux!

We know you’re packing up and heading out for the holidays.  Or maybe you’re cleaning house and putting the finishing touches on all of the baking you’ve been doing in advance of your special company. You may even be one of those people who are doing all of their holiday shopping at the very last minute. Or, it’s even possible that you’re not doing anything special and just enjoying time with your friends and family.  However you choose to spend the final days of 2010, everyone at Chuck Redux wants to wish you the very best of the season and a happy and prosperous New Year!

 

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Image of the Day: Rabbit Seasoning 1952

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Original layout drawing with dialog by Chuck Jones, graphite on 12 field animation paper for his 1952 "Rabbit Seasoning."  

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Original background layout for the Chuck Jones directed "Rabbit Seasoning" by Maurice Noble, graphite and colored pencil on 12 field animation paper.  Both are genius!  

 

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Just in time for Valentine's Day, Chuck Jones' irreverent (and sweetly innocent) watercolor of "Cupig"!

For your contribution of $50 or more, receive this colorful fine art print, created especially for you.  (I know, I know, you're thinking "When pigs fly," but really, what better time than now to fall in love with the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and help sponsor our amazing programs?)

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For your contribution of $25-49, select one of the three popular Smile prints to add that special touch of hilarity:
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Smile print #1:  "Laugh every day; it's contagious…"
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Smile print #2:  "Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity…"
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Smile print #3:  "Smile!  It's contagious…"

 

Today is the 44th Anniversary of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” TV Special

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Above and below are pre-production mixed media (graphite, colored pencil and marker pen on paper) concept drawings by Chuck Jones for his 1966 TV special "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" that aired December 18, 1966 on CBS, pre-empting Lassie.

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"Cindy-Lou Who surprises the Grinch.  I drew Cindy-Lou to appear like a great-grandchild of the Grinch, but with everything right where he is wrong."–Chuck Jones

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Boris Karloff narrated, June Foray was the voice of Cindy-Lou Who and Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of Tony the Tiger) sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," which was composed by Albert Hague with lyrics by Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss.)  

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"'Christmas day will always be, just as long as we have we."

This Just In From Santa Fe: Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

These photos just in from our Chuck Jones Gallery — Santa Fe gallery director, Michael Bundy.  He's said that Santa Fe already has two feet of snow on the ground and more on the way as these photos attest.  If you've never been to Santa Fe at Christmas-time, it is a very magical place with the luminarios (also known as farolitos) and the snow; it's beautiful.  Of course, no trip there would be complete without at stop at the Chuck Jones Gallery, 135 West Palace Avenue (just off the Plaza Square in Old Town.)

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What's even better is that it's those big, soft snowflakes that are perfect for catching on your tongue and that make awesome snowmen!  

How to Draw Max

On the way to the final version of the faithful (and all-knowing) dog, Max, in Chuck Jones' "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" there were several iterations.  We know from Chuck's writing that he drew (pun intended) on a little terrier his family had in the teens of the last century in developing the character of Max, and of course, there were all those other dogs (Frisky Puppy, Charlie Dog, Mark Antony) that helped guide Max's final look.

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In this early model sheet of 'Old Max' you can see how much thinner and perhaps even a little more Seussian he looks than he does in the final footage of the film.  Chuck wrote about Max, "Max moves awkwardly.  He was not the most graceful of dogs, and he was not built right to sit up.  His toppling over when the Grinch uses him as a dress dummy harked back to a fox terrier my father once bought.  This poor little fox terrier was the only dog I've ever known who was a complete nonentity.  He would have had to move up to become a wimp.  He could not sit up, he had a negligible tail, and his entire body came to a point.  This fact was overlooked by my father (who believed he could teach anybody anything) in his determination to teach this dog to "By God, sit up!"  Father would prop the poor little thing up, stick his powerful finger at the terrier's nose, and bark, "Sit up!"  Balanced on his bony coccyx, the sad little creature would topple slowly and inexorably over.

"Several of these dismal failures only proved to my father that the dog wasn't trying, so he became harsher in his demands to "Sit!"  Then my mother advised him to try propping the dog up in the corner of the room.  At that point, we four children were no longer able to muffle our hilarity, so turning savagely on us (figuring we were to blame) he ordered us upstairs, while he duly propped the little dog in the corner.  Upstairs we had the benefit of pillow and blanket to stifle our laughter, which became more and more intense as we heard "Sit!" then a sliding sound, a thump, a curse, followed by another "Sit!"

"I was six years old, and I tucked this little dog away in my memory until I needed him play the part of Max.  I am often asked, "What is the source of your inspiration?" and after more than sixty years in animation, this is the only source I can honestly identify.  So perhaps that sad, pointy dog served a purpose, after all."

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And one of the final model sheets used by the animators during the production of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"  You can see how Max became a little softer, a little rounder, a little more lovable-looking, if you will, as the development of the film progressed.  Don't you just want to give him a hug?

Trim Me, Trim You (Ideas that didn’t make the final cut)

One of the great things about creating an animated film is that you don't have to worry about hurting an actor's feelings when you cut their scene since oftentimes, the editing process happens at the beginning rather than at the end.   When Chuck Jones was at Warner Bros. he said that because their budgets were so minuscule that they had to do all of their editing pre-production as there were no funds for post-production corrections or additions. 

What we're sharing with you today is a pre-production opening sequence concept, parts of which never made it into the final film plus we have a draft of Ted Geisel's lyrics (set to Albert Hague's music) for what eventually became "Trim Up the Tree, Trim Up the Town."  It's quite a delightful read!

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And there was this wonderful rough concept drawing of the Grinch and Max from the pencil of Chuck Jones that was too delicious not to share!  

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Maurice Noble, Chuck Jones, Ted Geisel and Dr. Seuss

According to the book "Stepping into the Picture, Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble" by Robert J. McKinnon, Maurice Noble was delighted at the opportunity to work with Ted Geisel again 20 years after the war (that would be World War II, for you youngsters) where they had first met (Geisel was a Major in the film unit headed by Frank Capra and Noble was but a Corporal then) when Chuck Jones announced that he had secured the rights to produce "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and several other Dr. Seuss books in 1965.  

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Original background layout design by Maurice Noble for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Gouache and colored pencil on 12 field (10.5" x 12.5") MGM animation paper.

"As work commenced on "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," it quickly became evident to Maurice that Dr. Seuss was a perfectionist, and everything had to be done "just right."  But he also realized that the famed author lived by the same credo to which he [Noble] had always subscribed–the production comes first–and this made working with Geisel a rewarding experience.  "Ted literally slaved over his books.  I know that sometimes he would take weeks to come up with just one line," said Noble.  "And he wanted to have as much care taken in the creation of the film.  When he made a criticism, it was never a personal thing; it was purely 'what is good for the production?'  So you would go over it again and again, and eventually get it so felt 'right.'  There was no animosity in terms of "This is my book and it must be done this way."  

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Original background layout design by Maurice Noble for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Gouache and colored pencil on 12 field (10.5" x 12.5") MGM animation paper.

"When working with Geisel, Noble noticed that the author often spoke of Dr. Seuss in the third person.  "Sometimes I'd make a suggestion for the picture and he would say something like, 'Well, I think Dr. Seuss would do it this way.'  This was a typical remark.  It was as if Dr. Seuss was a separate creative personality."  

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Original background layout design by Maurice Noble for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Graphite and colored pencil on 12 field (10.5" x 12.5") MGM animation paper.

Chuck Jones had this to say, according to McKinnon, "Authors use a lot of adverbs and adjectives, and when you get into our field, they're of no use to you.  So you have to translate into action what they've used as words… To me Maurice did a remarkable job translating into the style."

Regardless of the difficulties encountered by Jones and Noble in working with Geisel, the results speak for themselves.  The crew knew early on that they working on something special, much in the same way they felt about working on 1957's Warner Bros. masterpiece, "What's Opera, Doc?"  The production just had its own life and the possibility of being a great work of art.