Monday, September 21, 2009

Chuck Jones - A Thinking Man's Cartoon Evolution!

Born today in 1912, Chuck Jones would have been 97 years old today.

In the course of his career at Warner Brothers, Chuck evolved as much as the characters themselves.

When Chuck first came to Warner's in the mid-1930's as an animator, he was just that. Another cog in the machine along with others, learning how this fledgling medium worked. Learning how to get ideas across in motion, motion created with 24 still drawings per second.

He was good at what he did though, and put thought behind what he did as well. So as directors moved on away from Warner's and new directors were needed, and in 1937 at 25 years old, Chuck Jones assumed the directors chair.

Unlike his counterparts Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Frank Tashlin who were pushing the envelope and beginning to make some of the wackiest cartoons to hit the silver screen and truly setting the Looney Tunes-Merrie Melodies style, Chuck was interested in studying the Disney technique. Utilizing more natural movements and...I hate to say it because there is benefit to this...a treacly, cutesy type of characterization. Case in point:

After a few years of this, and of really honing his craft, the other directors pulled him aside and basically told him, "Hey, this ain't Disney...we're making FUNNY cartoons...get with the program!". So he did. He showed 'em.

You can't really cartoon or lampoon anything without knowing how to do the real thing. And Chuck knew. By the 50's he was doing some of the funniest, most Warner Brothery-est cartoons made.

Chuck was a thinking man. He directed these characters from a psychological point of view. And he was a true artist. By the 1960's he was wanting to expand the medium all the more. And he did, with cartoons like this:

Of course after Warner's closed their doors in 1963, Chuck went on to many more things. A little inconsistent at times, but always good for his desire to try something new. Here's a brief take of Chuck on himself.

Thanks for thinking about what you were doing Chuck. I'm still thinking about it!


Marco said...

Interesting bit of trivia regarding Mr. Jones, a resident of Corona del Mar. The infamous person who sold vehicles from a certain company without permission and later went to prison for it, was Chuck's neighbor. Jones did 4 or 5 illustrations for said lowlifes wedding, no reflection on him or his taste in people.

Jeff Overturf said...

No reflection on his taste in people at all, Marco. I wasn't aware of this, but find it an interesting example of what a truly diverse and juxtaposed world this is. That a man like Chuck, so interested in the human condition, art, literature, music, history and making this world a little brighter could be found living right near a slimeball like whom you speak who was interested in nothing more than a quick shallow, drug fix or the thrill of chasing the quick buck. Strange bedfellows this world makes of us all. Long live the memory of Chuck, long live the prison dry-anal rapes of B.M. The smegma-wad's of the world's names will no longer sully my world. :)

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