On February 22, 2002, the world lost a wonderful person, and the animation world lost one of its pioneers. Chuck Jones not only created characters for Warner Bros. such as Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Pepe le Pew, and Marvin the Martian, but he also significantly defined the personalities of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd into the multi-faceted individuals everyone embraces them as.
Dohtem.com's head honcho and evil dictator, Greg Method, wanted to say some kind words about Mr. Jones....
Chuck Jones. What can one say about the man that hasn't already been said on countless other Web sites and news reports? I've been a fan of Chuck's work for quite a long time, and when I started to get into cartooning his work was a huge influence on me.
As all six of our devoted readers may remember, I was finally able to meet Chuck in New York in May of '99. I had a friend at Warner Bros. who was able to get me on the invite list for a gallery show that Chuck was appearing at. If I have been told correctly, it was Chuck's last public appearance outside of Southern California, as reportedly soon after his health prevented him from traveling far. That news struck me as odd, since he seemed to be as healthy and able as a then-86-year-old could possibly be. But I digress, however he felt, I met a very kind, very sharp, and very endearing gentleman. Some of the pictures I took can be seen throughout this page.
The line to meet Chuck was like nothing I have ever seen. I've been to conventions to get autographs and have met rock bands after concerts, but the crowd to see Chuck was literally filling the entire space of the building. It amazed me to see all of these people who have been touched by Chuck's work.
When it was my turn to say hi, he waved me over and offered his hand. I simply told him that I came all the way from Cleveland just to thank him for being one of my heroes.
"Cleveland??" he responded. "When I first started out in this business, I didn't think anyone would cross the street to see me!" We chatted for a bit, and I left thanking him for being the witty, classy intellectual that he is. It was an experience that I will always treasure.
Soon after, Chuck's family launched an interesting project called Letters From the Heart. They invited everyone in the world to send cards, letters, e-mails, and drawings to Chuck to tell him how much his work has touched their hearts. The letters, etc. were then collected into large albums for Chuck to read.
I sent my letter off fairly early. I also wanted to help promote the project on our Web sites, and asked Chuck Jones Enterprises if any banners were available to use. I was told that so far people have just been using text links. So, I came up with a simple, yet effective, banner featuring Bugs and Daffy based on a scene from the classic Chuck cartoon "Rabbit Fire." The CJE people loved it, but I don't know if they ever passed it around since they never updated the Letters Web site since the project commenced. Nor do I know the current fate of the project, or how many letters Chuck was able to read.
A few months ago I was introduced to actress Nancy Cartwright, who is perhaps best known as the voice of Bart Simpson. She had just started working on a new series of Flash animation cartoons that Chuck created for the Web called Timber Wolf. I asked her how it felt to do voices for what is essentially a modern-day Looney Tunes cartoon.
"Oh man, it's Chuck Jones!" she beamed. She pretty much said it was a dream come true to work with Chuck. It's perhaps no different than if Walt Disney approached an actress in 1936 and said "I've got this little project called Snow White that I need a voice for..."
Chuck had become a living legend, and everyone in Hollywood was clamoring to work with him. People such as Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, Robin Williams, and Chris Columbus were among those who were asking to collaborate with him.
Chuck passed away Friday at about three in the afternoon. At the same time, I was in the middle of doing research on Chuck for an animation Web site. I was looking up information on some of the recent cartoons Chuck produced for Warner Bros. when I came upon an interview he gave with the satirical news magazine The Onion.
It was an average article. Chuck said a few of the same things he always mentions in interviews, such as the differences between how we relate to Bugs and Daffy. However, when asked if he ever plans to retire, Chuck said that when he is buried they'll have to give his hand enough room to keep drawing.
Later that night, I learned he was gone.
Like Friz Freleng, Jim Henson, Tex Avery, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, and countless others before him, Chuck Jones was a unique individual and artist. His influence can be clearly seen in film today, and I can guarantee that his work will continue to inspire, touch, and entertain for many generations to come.
Thank you, Chuck Jones. You will be missed.
- Greg Method
Chuck's first autobiography from 1988, with amusing chapters on growing up, Friz Freleng and Tex Avery, and the psyche of his characters, among others. It's a wonderful read.
Chuck's 1996 follow-up collection of memoirs. The flow's a little more scattered than in the first book (after all, who woulda thought he had enough material to fill a second book!), but Chuck does try to fill in as many remaining gaps as possible.
Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings by Hugh Kenner
Although it borrows heavily from Chuck Amuck, Hugh Kenner presents an interesting analysis of Chuck's career.
LOONEY TUNES, Bugs Bunny, and all related characters and indicia ©2002 Warner Bros., an AOL Time Warner company. All rights reserved.
Photos and text ©2002 Catra-Dohtem, Inc. Online, a Catra-Dohtem, Inc. company, and may not be reprinted without the expressed written permission of the author.
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