So much awesomeness! Artists, where do you get all of your ideas? The theme this year, as it has been in the past, was “The Life and Times of Chuck Jones”. Chuck was born in 1912 and passed away in 2002; his nine decade life spanned most of the 20th century as well as the history of the animated film. He was interested in, no, let me put that another way, he was fascinated by everything in the world around him. A voracious reader, Chuck Jones cited influences as diverse as Mark Twain and Carlos Santayana; and from the actor and director Charlie Chaplin to the grapefruit-loving Johnson the Cat. Nothing was too small not to catch his attention.
That gave our artists for this year’s Red Dot Auction a lot to consider and to be inspired by as witnessed in the works below.
What’s that you say? You haven’t bought your tickets for the Red Dot Auction on Friday, May 1 from 7 to 10 PM? What are you waiting for? They’re just $25 per person online (click here) or $35 per at the door. Be there or be square (just like the canvases!)
Mel Blanc, pyrography (wood burning) on wood, 12″ square.
Claude and Frisky Puppy, colored pencil on canvas, 12″ square.
“Roughing It” acrylic on canvas, 12″ square.
Cricket and Kandinsky, digital art on paper, 12″ square.
“I see nothing in the Coyote that I can’t find in almost any human being. Most of us share his desire for something small and special, be it diamonds, doughnuts, or Road Runner. Wile E. Coyote devotes enormous ingenuity and energy to chasing the Road Runner. People wonder what good it would do him to catch the Road Runner, as there’s obviously very little food on that scrawny frame. A rabbit would seem to be more nutritious prey, but Wile E. considers roadrunner to be a luxury item on the coyote’s food chain. There are delicacies as yet unknown to the human palate, and one of them is this apparently succulent avian.
“A Road Runner cartoon is basically a series of separate blackout gags with an underlying structure, as the Coyote returns obsessively to the fray. Mike Maltese and I found that we needed about eleven gags to make a film, and the trick was to proceed in a more or less orderly fashion up to a strong climax. Gags varied considerably in length and could be as short as four seconds, as long as four minutes, or almost as long as the film itself.
“Humor is often a series of sensible statements ending in an unexpected oddity that completely changes the meaning of the scene.
“The Road Runner did not change a lot visually over the years; he has very little personality, as he is a force. I tell students that the secret of drawing the Road Runner is learning how to draw dust: just draw a cloud of dust and hook a Road Runner onto it…My Road Runner is a rare case in which the animated animal is almost exactly like its living model.
“The Road Runner’s immortal “beep-beep” was an accidental find, inspired by the sound Paul Julian made as he blindly tried to clear a route for himself along a Termite Terrace corridor. It seemed unimaginable to ask anybody but Paul to record this sound, so we invited him into the studio and it is his voice that is heard in every Road Runner cartoon, although Mel Blanc is given credit for it.
“Eddie Selzer [producer after Leon Schlesinger] hated the first Road Runner cartoon, Fast and Furry-ous, because it had no dialogue. “Goddamit,” he fumed, “we pay Mel Blanc and you should use his voice.” He sulked about it. I told him that the film wouldn’t work with dialogue, but he persisted: I don’t give a damn if it would work or not—WE PAY MEL BLANC!”
First awakened by the jingling of a loosened ornament from her Who Christmas tree, little Cindy-Lou Who's plaintive cry of "Why Santy Claus, why," startles the Grinch and one of the great scenes from Chuck Jones' classic "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" unfolds. The acting is subtle and impressive; Jones often said, "An animator is an actor with a pencil," and no where in this film is that more evident than here.
Original production cel of Cindy-Lou Who with its matching original production background. In the 1970s while the production art from the film was stored at UCLA's film library, a water pipe burst and many pieces suffered water damage as seen in the background of the above piece.
Of course, this post is really about the incomparable June Foray, the voice of Cindy-Lou Who. Chuck Jones writes in his Chuck Reducks, "One of the few misconceptions about June is to think of her wonderful talent as "voice over." Nothing could be further from the truth. June is worthy of the gift-word: actress. She imbues a part with herself, be it a Mama Bear or the deadly cobra Nagaina in Rikki Tikki Tavi. As a vocal Grandma Moses, she brought the redoubtable Granny to life for Friz Freleng; for me, she did the loving mother seal in Kipling's The White Seal. She created three different witches named Hazel for Disney, MGM and Warner Bros., all with different personalities but all with undeniable knowledge of Shakespeare's squacky trio. She could transfer her throat from a sweet Cindy-Lou in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to a bellowing Red Riding Hood in Little Red Riding Rabbit… From Natasha to (an asexual) Rocky, she dominated Bullwinkle and company for many years. Indeed, she is one of the few actresses I know who would understand John Barrymore's assertion that "an actor cannot say 'pass the butter' without understanding who said it, where it was said, and under what circumstances it was said." In fact–and I speak with the deepest respect for him–I can only compliment Mel Blanc by saying that he could be called the a male June Foray."
Craig Kausen (Chuck Jones' grandson) and voice actress extraordinaire June Foray at a reception held in her honor at the Chuck Jones Gallery.
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:
Original storyboard page for Chuck Jones' 1973 television special "A Cricket in Times Square." This artwork will be part of Chuck Jones: An Animator's Life from A to Z-Z-Z-Z opening May 14th at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills.
Based on the children's book of the same title by George Selden, the film finds a braunschweiger-eating cricket named Chester trapped in a picnic basket and transported from his home in Connecticut to New York City, with voice actors Mel Blanc, June Foray and Les Tremayne.