Hats off to Minnesota Public Radio for their short, but sweet, tribute to Chuck Jones's Centennial!
St. Paul, Minn. — Chuck Jones — the animator, cartoon artist, writer, producer and director of countless classic televisions cartoons, from episodes of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry to How the Grinch Stole Christmas — would have turned 100 today. Born on September 21, 1912 in Spokane, Wash., Jones took low-level animation jobs after graduating from art school and slowly worked his way up into the entertainment industry. He went on to create hundreds of memorable shorts during a career that spanned eight decades. Jones passed away on February 22, 2002.
To read the entire article and to watch Chuck Jones's classic short cartoon, "What's Opera, Doc?" click on Minnesota Publi Radio!
"It's a Scweam!" is a day brightener at the corner of Market Street and 5th Avenue in San Diego's storied Gaslamp Quarter. Should you find yourself there with your Smartphone, make sure to scan the QR code in the lower right for more information…who knows what you'll find if you look hard enough.
California artist and long-time Orange County resident, Bob Elias, will be a featured artist at the Chuck Jones Big Draw, Sunday, August 7th from 11 AM to 5 PM. Throughout the day Elias will be working on a new painting of two of Chuck Jones's iconic characters, but who they are will remain between Bob and I until Sunday. So, start excersizing your drawing arm and come down to SoCo, 3303 Hyland Avenue, Costa Mesa on Sunday, August 7th for the Chuck Jones Big Draw and see what this noted artist and surfer will be working on! Help us set a Guinness World Record for the largest art class held in one venue, register today!
Artist Bob Elias at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity with his most recent painting that pays homage to an American classic, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons created and directed by Chuck Jones.
Bob Elias works on a painting inspired by Jones's "Duck, Rabbit, Duck" cartoon of 1953. He says he always loved cartoons (both Warner Bros. and Disney–he's also a noted painter for the theme parks) and that growing up in the artist community of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the 1950s gave him the inspiration to pursue his calling after a storied career in the hand-painted sign business. "Those rich, deeply pigmented paints that are used for sign painting inspire my use of color to this day," said Elias. "I had so much fun at the last Chuck Jones Big Draw talking with the children and adults about painting and my technique, that I can hardly wait for this one!" You can find Bob every so often off the shore at San O (San Onofre Beach just south of San Clemente, California) sitting on his board waiting for the perfect wave and a little bit of inspiration.
Arguably the most famous short animated film ever created, Chuck Jones’ What’s Opera, Doc? of 1957 has been feted, lauded, praised and applauded. The first animated short film inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and the #1 animated cartoon as selected by 1,000 animation art professionals, critics and collectors (so sayeth Jerry Beck), What’s Opera, Doc? is the boisterously rhapsodic retelling of Wagner’s operatic Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle.
What normally would take three full days (with intermissions…) to stage and produce has been condensed in the Jones version to just seven sweet and sublime minutes. And not a nuance of the original is lost. Bugs Bunny in horned helmet and Brunhilde braids, Elmer Fudd with sword and magic helmet continue their epic struggle to the Wagnerian strains of the Valkyrie’s melody. Even co-librettists (Jones and Maltese) tune in for a mournful Return My Love as Bugs’ deception is revealed to the love-struck Bavarian bumbler, Elmer.
What’s Opera, Doc? succeeds on many different levels with the audience. It is first and foremost a deliciously devilish send-up of the pretensions of the opera world, but at the same time, handled with great sincerity and honesty. We are invited to share in the antics of the very well known characters as they romp through a magnificently mythic stage set (designed by the incomparable Maurice Noble) and yet they themselves are somewhat mythical in their own right. A punch and counter-punch effect is created that enhances the silliness factor tenfold.
“For sheer production quality, magnificent music, and wonderful animation, this is probably our most elaborate and satisfying production.” —Chuck Jones, quoted in The Fifty Greatest Cartoons As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals
This video is of George Daugherty conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra as they play the music that accompanies the Chuck Jones 1957 masterpiece, "What's Opera, Doc?" during a presentation of his "Bugs Bunny on Broadway." George is bringing his revamped, enhanced and newly titled "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, CA this coming August 6th. Click here to buy tickets or here to learn more about Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.
“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.
“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).
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."
Artists' hands are a tool as much as the pencil, brush, or mouse are and they reveal much about the artist's personality and character just in the way they hold their instrument, or touch the paper, even in a still image such as this one of Chuck Jones at his drawing table in his home studio.
When you see Chuck Jones' hands, the left holding the paper in place, the right with his favored pencil (the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602, no longer in production) it's easy to imagine that you hear the gentle scratch of lead on paper, and witness the brisk, sure movement of his hand delineating the character of Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny as surely as someone who completely understands their motivations, personality tics and eccentricities as he does his own.
Bugs Bunny: "Would you like to shoot me now or wait till you get home?"
Daffy Duck: "Shoot him now!"
Bugs Bunny: "You keep out of this, he doesn't have to shoot you now!"
Daffy Duck: "He does so have to shoot me now! I demand that you shoot me now!"
The hapless Daffy Duck in Chuck Jones 1952 "Rabbit Seasoning" is once again fooled by the quick-witted Bugs Bunny. In this cel art edition, Beakhead, we find Daffy suffering the consequences of his actions. Chuck Jones' original line drawing was transferred to the cels and expertly hand-painted by professional cel painters in exactly the same manner and with the same paints that would be used to create original production art for the film.