Writing from Costa Mesa: This reporter was fortunate enough to witness "Simpsons" storyboard artist, Stephen Reis (center in photo below) in action this past Saturday, November 3rd, at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity during their "Great, Grand Chuck Jones Family Happening!" With a sharp pencil in each hand (many thanks to Pencils.com for the gift of Chuck Jones's preferred drawing instrument, the Blackwing 602, which all of those in attendance were able to use), Reis wowed those lucky aspirants with his dexterity and command of character design.
How to draw Mr. Burns was one of many character studies led by Stephen Reis.
Over a three-hour period, over 30 students of animation, both young and old alike, learned from one of the most creative storyboard and character design artists working in animation today. By the end of the session and because of his guidance and nurturing manner each student had produced a group of characters from "The Simpsons". Smiles all around!
Everyone at the Center extends a heartfelt thank you to Stephen and we look forward to his return in the future!
Since 1964, the LSU Student Union Art Gallery has been bringing cultural and educational exhibits and programs to the Baton Rouge community. Located in the very heart of the Student Union, the gallery draws a wide range of visitors, from students to faculty and staff to community members to school groups. All of the exhibits are free and open to the public, including the receptions and programs that accompany each show.
During the fall and spring semesters, the Union Art Advisory Committee meets once a month to approve proposed exhibits and programs. The Committee was inspired to select the Chuck Jones exhibit, What's Up, Doc?: The Animated Art of Chuck Jones, based on the number of youth groups and families that visit LSU during the summer. They have already had an overwhelming positive response from the thousands of freshman orientation attendees who find their way into the gallery every week.
With the help of the gallery collection manager, Hugh O'Connor, they were able to supplement the over 100 original sketches and animation cels with memorabilia items from the past 40 years to demonstrate the pervasiveness of Jones's creations in American pop culture.
They have also set up two televisions on opposite ends of the gallery, which play Chuck Jones biographies and interviews along with many of his best known cartoons, including a sampling of classic Looney Tunes shorts, Tom and Jerry, and Rikki Tikki Tavi.
At the far end of the gallery, they have provided a "make your own character mask" station for our younger guests as well as a memory board where visitors can share their favorite Chuck Jones moments.
In mid-July (tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, July 17) the gallery will host some educational programs, including a lecture on the history of animation by Yeon Choi of University of Louisiana at Lafayette; a panel discussion on the works of Chuck Jones; and a presentation by Jones's grandson, Craig Kausen. For more information on the exhibit or the gallery, please visit www.lsu.edu/union.
The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, a Newport Beach Film Festival Event Sponsor, will be hosting a morning of Chuck Jones animated cartoons at Triangle Square, Costa Mesa (at the intersection of Newport Blvd., 19th St., and the terminus of the 55 freeway) on Saturday, April 28th at 11 AM. Among the many favorite short cartoons to be shown will be one of his masterpieces, "One Froggy Evening."
Following the showing at 1:30 PM will be a panel discussion and seminar on animation with celebrated voice actress, June Foray (Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, and Witch Hazel); Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Jones Clough; "Dora the Explorer" producer and director, Jeff DeGrandis; animation director, character designer ("Hop"), and writer, Chris Bailey and photographer Marian Jones, Chuck Jones's widow. The discussion will be moderated by Craig Kausen, chairman of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.
A ticket for both events is $5.00 for adults. For more information and to purchase tickets, please contact the Newport Beach Film Festival by clicking on their name in this sentence or on the images.
On April 17, 1937, a star was born. Tex Avery's "Porky's Duck Hunt" premiered in theaters nationwide and audiences were introduced to a duck unlike any other duck in cartoon history. He was wacky and wild, some might even say crazy, but the germ of an idea was born, and the directors and animators at Warner Bros. took the nutty, black-feathered guy and made him into the star he is today, Daffy Aloysius Dumas Duck.
Daffy Duck starred in 134 +/- cartoons and arguably reached his apogee in the hunting trilogy directed by Chuck Jones: "Rabbit Fire" 1951, "Rabbit Seasoning" 1952, and "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!" 1953.
"I have watched with fascination his [Daffy's] growth from his earliest haphazard puerile personality, through adolescence, to the splendid bombast of his maturity in the fifties. Daffy has become the spokesman for the egoist in everyone, but he remains always undaunted by the inevitable requital: the fear of consequences that makes cowards of the rest of us." –Robert D. Tschirgi, M.D., PH.D., professor of Neurosciences, University of California, La Jolla, February 14, 1985
"The first surfacing of that part of my character that was later to show up in Daffy Duck occurred at the age of six. My sixth-birthday party, to be precise. I was immensely proud–it seems to me that all my life I have taken the most pride in things over which I have little or no control. Even though I had older sisters, it never occurred to me that anyone had ever become six years old before, and the splendid cake, candles bravely ablaze in salute to my maturity, was ample evidence that I had entered manhood.
"Having blown out the candles and, as a side benefit, managing to send most of the smoke up my little brother's nostrils, I was handed the knife, my first baton of any kind of authority in six misspent years, and was told to cut as large a piece as I liked. At this point Daffy Duck must have had, for me, his earliest beginnings, because I found to my surprise and pleasure that I had no desire to share my cake with anyone. I courteously returned the knife to my mother. I had no need for it, I explained; I would simplify the whole matter by taking the entire cake for myself. Not knowing she had an incipient duck on her hands, she laughed gently and tried to return the knife to my reluctant grasp. I again explained that the knife was superflous. It was impossible, I pointed out with incontrovertible logic, to cut a cake and still leave it entire for its rightful owner. I had no need and no desire to share.
"My father thereupon mounted the hustings (he was nine feet tall and looked like a moose without antlers) and escorted me to my room to contemplate in cakeless solitude the meaning of a word new to me: "selfish." To me then, and to Daffy Duck now, "selfish" means "honest but antisocial"; "unselfish" means "socially acceptable but often dishonest." We all want the whole cake, but, unlike Daffy and at least one six-year-old boy, the coward in the rest of us keeps the Daffy Duck, the small boy in us, under control." –Chuck Jones writing in his autobiography "Chuck Amuck" 1989
All drawings are by Chuck Jones, graphite on paper, circa 1950s through mid 1990s.
Chuck Jones Homage artist, Bob Elias, dropped by the other day to show us his progress on a new painting he's been working on of Road Runner with Wile E. Coyote mired in a puddle of ACME Quicksand.
"The Coyote is a history of my own frustration and war with all tools, multiplied only slightly. I can remember my wife and daughter would start to weep bitterly and seek hiding places whenever they saw me head toward the tool drawer, if only to hang a picture. I have never reached into that devilish drawer without starting a chain of errors and disasters of various but inevitable proportions. Like any other man, I would rather succeed in what I can't do than do what I have successfully done before. I have never reached into that drawer without encountering one of those spiny things you stick flowers in. We don't keep that thing in that drawer, but it is always there. I count it a good day when I get only one spine under a fingernail. I tried to get the spiny thing out of the drawer once, but found out that the last time, when it had stuck to four fingers at once and had been lifted a few inches out of its next in the resulting shriek, it had fallen on a tube of glue, puncturing the tube and affixing itslef to the drawer for all time. I have tried lackadaisicallly from time to time to remove it, and have succeeded in breaking a rattail file, a kitchen knife, three fingernails, a nailfile, a pair of manicure scissors, an eggbeater (in one of my more fanciful efforts), and a window, when the tail of the rattail file separated from the rattail file." –Chuck Jones, writing in his 1989 autobiography, "Chuck Amuck, the Life and Times of a Animated Cartoonist"
Chuck Jones Homage artist Bob Elias on the left with this blog's author posing with a painting of quicksand that also includes Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. And yes, you're not mistaken, those are Christmas decorations hanging up above our heads. We would have taken them down sooner, but decided that we liked their resemblance to planets and outer space, so left them until just the other day, when they finally were removed and stored for another time. Time is relative, is it not?
P.S. What did this post have to do with spiny frogs? Leave a comment if you think you know why. Who knows the first person to answer correctly may win something!
Chuck Jones (center) and Unit "A" at Leon Schlesinger Productions, circa 1939, from the Dorothy Jones scrapbook chronicling Chuck's first few years as director. More memorabilia from this scrapbook is on display at the Chuck Jones Experience, Circus Circus, Las Vegas.
The perfect way to enjoy a Satruday: Turner Classic Movies will be honoring Chuck Jones's centennial year with a film retrospective on Saturday, March 24th. Click here for the play list and times. You'll be treated to a panoply of Jones's most cherished cartoons, starring your favorite Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, and Pepe le Pew. Make some popcorn and stay up late to watch his only feature film, "The Phantom Tollbooth" and look for him in a cameo role! I can hear the laughter already…can't you?
Chuck Jones met the clown TJ Tatters, also known as Steve Smith, in the early 1990s. Smith, a graduate of the Ringling Bros. Clown College and its director from 1985 until 1995, invited Jones down to Sarasota, Florida on several occasions to speak with the students. As was his nature, Chuck gifted many of the students a drawing of their favorite Warner Bros. character. On one such trip he drew this: This past September, the Clowns (past, present and future) got together on Cape Cod for a reunion and to celebrate Chuck's birthday, Valerie Kausen, Chuck's granddaughter went out to join them in their festivities.
“Being at the Clown College Reunion made my heart so happy to feel the love and respect that each and every one of those fabulous laugh loving people loved Chuck as much as I do. My face hurt from smiling so much. I had such a great time!", said Valerie, seen here with Steve Smith (aka TJ Tatters), Clown Hall of Fame member, and the talent development coordinator for Chuck Jones Film Productions, in Provincetown this past September for their Reunion.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta just ended its 2011 festivities this past Sunday. The Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe has participated with the organizers several times, once even providing the "chase" flags (see below.)
But this year, one of Chuck's most beloved characters, Pepé le Pew, took a bow at the Fiesta and wowed the assembled with his larger-than-life presence as one of the participating balloons. Our friends, Yasine and Kyle (who took the photos below, thank you so much!), said it was great fun to listen in on people as the Pepé le Pew balloon took shape and they began to realize what character it was. Fractured French for everyone!
At last night's gala dinner on the patio of Lou & Mickey's (at the very heart of San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter–previously known as the "Stingaree"), the Jones Family Gathering welcomed a very special guest, one of Chuck Jones's favorite authors and wits.
This author has been gone from this world for over a century, so our 'reception' was at times a little blurry, but we kept fiddling with the knobs and dials of our "Way Back Machine" (not to be confused with Peabody & Sherman's WABAC machine), and he eventually came into clearer focus.
To everyone's amazement and delight it was that rascal and raconteur, the inimitable Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). Mr. Twain was gracious enough to stroll among us, delighting us with bits and pieces of his encyclopedic knowledge of all things west of the Mississippi (and some things east of it too!)
Chuck Jones began reading at age three and around the age of seven (circa 1919) discovered the writings of Mark Twain, in particular a book Twain wrote about his and his brother's trip by stagecoach out to the gold fields of the Sacramento basin in 1849 ("a miner, a 'forty-niner', oh my darlin' Clementine…"), titled "Roughing It". One particular passage stuck with Chuck, and it was Twain's description of the coyote (which is repeated below for your edification); it was a description, Chuck said, that resonated with a scrawny, seven-year-old, and one that when needed about 20 years later, provided much of the characterization of one of Jones's most enduring and popular characters. Let's see, who could that be?
"Along about an hour after breakfast we saw the first prairie dog villages, the first antelope, and the first wolf. If I remember rightly, this latter was the regular coyote (pronounced ky-o-te) of the farther deserts. And if it was, he was not a pretty creature or respectable either, for I got well acquanited with his race afterward, and can speak with confidence.
The coyote is a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton, with a gray wolfskin stretched over it, a tolerably bushy tail that forever sags down with a despairing expression of forsakenness and misery, a furtive and evil eye, and a long, sharp face, with slightly lifted lip and exposed teeth. He has a general slinking expression all over. The coyote is a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry. He is always poor, out of luck, and friendless. The meanest creatures despise him, and even the fleas would desert him for a velocipede. He is so spirtless and cowardly that even while his exposed teeth are pretending a threat, the rest of his face is apologizing for it. And he is so homely! -so scrawny, and ribby, and coarse-haired, and pitiful."