Chuck Jones’s first cartoon as a director premiered in October of 1938 “The Night Watchman”. His advancement to ‘supervisor’ from animator at Leon Schlesinger Productions was noted in the film trade journal, Daily Variety, prompting not only a flurry of congratulatory letters from co-workers (Grim Natwick, for instance) and family (his brother Dick, an in-betweener at Schlesinger), but also a few telegrams from the likes of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney, and Max Fleischer (sent, we believe, with a wink from his co-workers.)
Top: Model drawing of the head rat from “The Night Watchman” by Chuck Jones, colored pencil on 12 field animation paper, 10.5” x 12.5”. Model drawings of the Night Watchman by Chuck Jones, graphite on 12 field animation paper.
Bonus feature: “Text messages from the early 20th century”!
In his early career as a magazine humorist and advertising-copy artist, the nom de plume underwent a number of permutations—Theo Seuss 2nd, Dr. Theophrastus Seuss, and the cumbersome Dr. Theodophilus Seuss, Ph.D, I.Q., H2SO4. Geisel started to recede, even as Seuss enlarged. When a children’s book titled And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by “Dr. Seuss” appeared in 1937, the future was set. Four “fame-producing” decades later and Ted’s painting, Green Cat with Lights, has been completed and mysteriously signed, “Stroogo Von M.” But why?
Audrey Geisel says “ Ted liked to hang that artwork in the entryway of Seuss House. When people would come in, they would invariably ask about the painting. Ted would answer, ‘That’s my Stroogo Von M. How do you like it?’ In return, what he would get from friends was an honest opinion without them knowing it was his painting.”
Ted’s “tongue in cheek” humor may have prompted him to positively recycle the name “Stroogo.” Stroogo first appeared as the henchman who would walk up and down walls in Ted’s short-lived 1935 comic strip “Hejji.” He resurfaced as Dr. T’s henchman in the 1953 movie, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T., a project Ted had high hopes for, but which soured him on moviemaking for the rest of his life.
Green Cat with Lights falls into the category of Ted’s “Big Cats” along with Joseph Katz, Indistinct Cat, Cat from the Wrong Side of the Tracks, Alley Cat for a Very Long Alley, and Wisdom of the Orient Cat. These are some of the most sought-after and cherished artworks of the entire collection.
Green Cat with Lights is a fine art edition measuring 34" x 24" unframed. Call your Chuck Jones Gallery art consultant for more details and to add this beautiful new edition from the most iconic of American children's authors and illustrators to your collection.
How can you not love Johnson the Cat? He's a half-a-grapefruit-space-helmet-wearing-swim-in-the-ocean cat, after all, and that has to count for something in the annals of catdom, don't you agree? To learn more about Johnson (other than what you've just found out, obviously), dive into your nearest copy of Jones's autobiography, "Chuck Amuck" and turn to pages 12 through 23 for the side-splitting hilarity that is the character of a peculiar cat.
P.S. The drawing is graphite and colored marker on notepaper, 10.5" x 8.5", by Chuck Jones, circa late 1980s.
Original mixed media model drawing of the Connecticut Cat by Chuck Jones for his 1973 television special, "A Very Merry Cricket." The sequel to his "A Cricket in Times Square" (original book by George Selden), "A Very Merry Cricket" finds our intrepid heroes Tucker Mouse (voiced by Mel Blanc) and Harry the Cat (voiced by Les Tremayne) off to Connecticut to find their friend, the musically-gifted cricket, Chester. The final Christmas montage of the film is cited by many to be some of Chuck's finest post-Warner Bros. work, see for yourself and let us know if you agree: