Monthly Archives: February 2009

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda


Throughout his life, Chuck Jones wrote letters to friends, family, heroes and fools.  Many of his letters were typed (with three or four fingers) on a manual typewriter, and a carbon copy stayed in his files. 

In the fall of 1952, at the age of 15, I departed for boarding school in Arizona and started receiving weekly letters from my father.

Sadly, letters from my mother did not survive the intervening years. Most of my letters home, saved by a doting mother, did survive and are, by and large, unnecessarily dramatic and adolescent.  Please forgive me, as I was, in fact, an adolescent.  Nevertheless, most of my letters are similar in tone and content to any teen-age girl’s rants, and few are important to record for posterity.

Chuck’s letters, however, as is true of so many of his writings, deserve a public outing, and I have decided to share passages here, for those who might wish to get a glimpse of the 40-year-old mind of the man who was, at the time, directing some of the most memorable cartoons ever made:  Feed the Kitty; Rabbit Seasoning;  Don’t Give Up the Sheep; Duck Amuck;  Much Ado About Nutting; Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century; Bully for Bugs; Duck, Rabbit, Duck!; Claws for Alarm; From A to Z-Z-Z-Z; My Little Duckaroo; Beanstalk Bunny; Jumpin’ Jupiter; and One Froggy Evening… to name just a few.

In the next posting we’ll start with September 19, 1952…the day I left home.

Linda at 15 copy
Linda at 15, Photo courtesy Linda Jones Clough

Bugs Bunny, as you’ve never seen him before, plus special bonus–alien pizza!

From a recent Mixed Media Workshop for young artists ages 9-14: 

First, according to the young artist, "Bugs Bunny, as you have never seen him before!"  (Magnificently furred in royal blue and silver glitter pen; this is a whole new look for Bugs.  Warner Bros.–are you listening?)

 MMW 2.6.09 015 XS

Second photo:  Is it a pizza?  No, but if you turn down the offer of
pizza from aliens, they'll zap you with the laser (visible at the

This is creativity, folks; the process is an adventure!

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5 Ways to Build an Entertaining Art Collection (and not get hit by a bus)

They say you can take the New Yorker out of New York, but
you can’t make them drive.  In the case
of our very own, Joel Shapiro (sales manager at the San Diego Chuck Jones
Gallery,) no truer words were ever spoken. 
A graduate of Baruch College (CUNY,) he’s been an integral part of our
gallery since 1997.  Joel, who really
doesn’t drive (imagine living in SoCal and not driving!) has made San Diego his
own; by trolleys, by walking; to the beach, to the cinema and through the
search for the perfect pizza (still unfound, but the research, the

Joel’s been collecting art for nearly 30 years and agreed to
share with us his secrets for building and maintaining a collection of film-related
art.  His passion and deep appreciation
for the artists who create animated films, cinema campaigns and related artistic
endeavors is apparent in his collection. 
Filling his pristine apartment from floor to ceiling, each work is
lovingly cared for, exquisitely displayed and fondly remembered. 

Collecting Is

  • A
    collection is composed of memories—your
    memories.  Select each work
    because it means something to you. 
    In the case of animation art, let its action, attitude and
    personality be the key to your desire to own it.

  • Classic
    moments in animation create collections. 
    Whether it’s Bugs Bunny vs. Marvin Martian or Snow White singing at
    the Wishing Well—a classic moment will always engage the viewer

83272.ColorModel copy sm

  "Herr Loves Me, Hare Loves Me Not" Hand-painted cel art edition

  • Let
    your collection evolve: Over the years, Joel has allowed his collection to
    grow by letting the new, the unusual, and the unique spark his imagination
    and consequently his collection has developed a life all its own.  There is a core collection, but not
    unlike a tree with branches there is many a direction to yet explore.
  • Collect
    art that is in the present.  It is
    as important today as it was when it was made; whether 5 years ago or 50
    years ago it still has something to say. 
    Art collecting is a comment on the human condition.  It makes you laugh, it makes you cry—it
    is nostalgic and futuristic. 
  • Allow
    it to make you feel like a kid.  A
    collection is a reflection of your personality.  It is your heritage and your
    legacy.  There is an innocence
    associated with the art Joel collects that draws on his memories of more
    simple pleasures—Saturday mornings in front of the TV—trips to the movie
    theater with his family—that is inspirational. 


"Win a Few, Lose a Few" Original Watercolor by Chuck Jones

The “How Not to Get
Hit by a Bus” Part

  • If you
    insist on walking everywhere, by all means look both ways before stepping
    off the curb.  Note to San Diego bus
    drivers:  Please be on the lookout
    for our Joel, picture attached.  (By
    the way, Joel survived, but the bus looked the worse for wear…)

Memories of John Alvin (Nov. 24, 1948–Feb. 6, 2008)

A Fortunate Trip

Everyone has a list
of regrets in life.  I am very fortunate
I did not have to add a cancellation of the Dicken's family trip to the Alvin
homestead, to that list–but nearly did! 
It was the Summer of 2007, and Cathy and I loaded our two daughters onto
a plane to fly cross-country to the Big Apple, to see the Yankees and Mets in
their respective historic ballparks, before moving to their new stadiums, then
drive several hours upstate, to see the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown,
with a stop to see some good friends along the way.

Those friends
happened to be Chuck Jones Gallery's very own, resident, and genius artists,
John and Andrea Alvin. They had made the generous offer to open up their home
to us in the picturesque countryside of upstate New York, to soften the lengthy
drive from the city to Cooperstown. 

The usual obstacles
arose in our efforts to escape the rigors of the frenzied city on schedule, and
upon a closer look at our schedule, made it look like there may not be time to
make the stop at the Alvin’s!  Cooler
heads prevailed, and we all agreed we did not want to forgo that important

Natalie with Milo 72dpi 

My daughter Natalie with the Alvin's poodle, the glorious Milo.

The drive in itself
was amazingly breathtaking.  We all saw a
part of New York that we deprived Southern California natives never knew
existed.  After miles of beautiful
countryside and meadows, and only a few scattered ranch homes went by before
pulling into the driveway of the beautiful red farmhouse that belonged to John
and Andrea.  Milo, their friendly poodle
and Andrea greeted us on the porch when we arrived, and we found a smiling John
just inside.    The view from all sides
of their home had acres of natural undeveloped land for as far as the eyes
could see, with their closest neighbors being the wildlife that lived on and
around their property.

The Alvin Studio

The tour of their
beautiful home, culminated with what I had been most anxious to see– the art
studio!  It was every bit as magical as I
had pictured in my mind’s eye.  The large
spacious studio had separate areas for each of them to create the wonderful
works of art I had been seeing from them over the years.  Each had a work on an easel, and several
other works in progress sitting around awaiting their turn.  Both work areas had a view of two things;
each other, and the pond behind their house. 
With the change of seasons as their inspirational backdrop, they would
bring their canvases to life.  This was
the home of the infamous, indoor "snow days" of painting that I had
heard them speak so much about!

John barbequed
hamburgers for the lot of us and we all enjoyed them along with cool drinks,
warm conversation and laughter, on that inviting country evening.  John's charisma, and storytelling, captivated
all of us for hours.  The brilliant stars
of the quiet country night fell upon us, as we were engulfed by his infectious
childlike enthusiasm, and the most wonderful sense of humor, that no one could
resist to be around.  After my daughters
reluctantly went off to their beds, Cathy and I went back for more, as we sat
around their kitchen table, and listened to John excitedly talk about paintings
he was working on, or upcoming projects, as well as the book of his artwork,
that was in the early planning stages.

George Washington Slept Here!

Scott Girls Alvins 72 dpi

But Scott, John, Andrea, Nicole and Natalie did not.  (Photo by Cathy Dicken)

His energy kept us
in engaging conversation until the early morning hours, until he insisted we get
some sleep.  The next morning, he took us
to "town" the historic part of his city that was active during the
Revolutionary War; complete with a hotel where George Washington actually DID
sleep.  We had breakfast at the only
restaurant in town, before taking our walking tour of the local landmarks.  The time passed so quickly that it was time
to get back on the road again before we knew it, and wrap up the highlight of
our whirlwind vacation.

Had I had even an
inkling that at that moment in time, I was spending the last time with John in
his home that I would ever have in his lifetime I would have prolonged that
brief capsule of time with him.  While
life doesn't offer us that kind of valuable foresight, what I truly and
fortunately can say; I will not be adding a forgone trip to the Alvin's, to my
regret list!

Posted by Scott Dicken

Rich in Love

John Alvin was a working artist.  His movie posters and campaigns transcended the
medium—uniting emotion and promotion unlike any other cinema artist of his
generation.   To wit, the term
“Alvinizing” became a popular tag amongst the marketing departments who
employed him. 

John made me laugh—laugh out loud ‘til tears ran down my
face.  He listened deeply and offered
advice when asked.  He loved a good joke
– blue was his favorite color – and he did have a bit of the devil in him.  And heavens, could he talk!  About any topic you wanted to talk about, he
knew something about everything.  

RP with Alvins 

John, Robert and Andrea at Art Expo, New York 2007

We talked about everything; new projects, old projects, new
friends, old friends and frenemies; there were discussions about food, drink,
the effects of drink, the effects of food, and the consequences of talking too
much.  He had several favorite stories,
but each time the telling revealed something new about him—endlessly evolving
and totally captivating. 

It was obvious that he loved his wife, Andrea, and daughter,
Farah, immensely.  The love he spoke of
was one of deep and abiding affection, frosted with a childlike amazement at
their strengths and talents.  Andrea
completed John.  No two were ever more

And Farah, Farah was his star; I remember one time watching
John and Farah walk off down the street, hand-in-hand, heads together in some
secret conspiracy, no father more devoted.  

John at reception 

John Alvin listens to collectors of his work at a reception for he and his wife held in March 2007 at the Chuck Jones Gallery in Orange.

Of course, there was also John’s relationship with Milo,
their standard poodle.  Whenever Andrea
would leave the two of them alone, John always complained that Milo would
reluctantly agree to be friendly since the real ‘master’ wasn’t around and he
would woefully deign to be petted and cajoled into keeping John’s company.   “All right, if I have to,” Milo would say
rolling his eyes.  At least that’s the way
John told it. 

John, you were rich in love and I miss you.   

Posted by Robert Patrick

“We are more than our investments.”

Quoted in today's GuideStar newsletter (thank you, GuideStar!):

"We are more than our investments. We are more than the year-to-year or
day-by-day changes in our net worth. We are what we do for charity. We
are how we treat our family and friends. We are how we treat our dogs
and cats. We are what we do for our community and our nation. If you
had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less,
you are still the same person. You are not a balance sheet, at least
not one denominated in money, as was explained to me recently."

Ben Stein, "They Told Me that Madoff Never Lost Money," New York Times, December 26,2008

From lochs to LAX, a visitor from Scotland explores the archives

Fraser MacLean, author of an upcoming book on the history of layout in animation, visited on Monday to meet Marian Jones (Chuck's widow) and Linda Jones Clough (Chuck's daughter).

Describing layout as "cinematography for animation," Fraser asked Marian and Linda to describe Chuck's unique approach to story development and layout, which involved acting out and sketching characters for the animators as the script and plot evolved.  

How many people can claim to have seen–and touched–original sketches for Ali Baba Bunny (1957) and an unreleased cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and a cute little rabbit that undergoes an alarming transformation?  Fraser can, and hopes that his book, in addition to serving as a standard reference text, inspires young people around the world to pursue careers in animation.

Stay tuned:  We'll let you know when the book is scheduled for publication!

(Please remember to subscribe to our feed and link your blog to ours.)

Left to right:  Marian Jones, Fraser MacLean and Daffy Duck, Linda Jones Clough

Fraser MacLean 2.2.09