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Home arrow eBook Categories arrow Biographies & Memoirs arrow Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings, Portraits of American Genius

Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings, Portraits of American Genius

eBooks - Biographies & Memoirs
October 02 2006

ImageImageBy Hugh Kenner, University of California Press, September 1994, Portraits of American Genius, No 3.

Creator of the mono-maniacal Wile E. Coyote and his elusive prey, the Road Runner, Chuck Jones has won three Academy Awards and been responsible for many classics of animation featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd. Who better to do Chuck Jones than Hugh Kenner, master wordsmith and technophile, a man especially qualified to illuminate the form of literacy that Jones so wonderfully executes in the art of character animation?

A Flurry of Drawings reveals in cartoon-like sequences the irrepressible humor and profound reflection that have shaped Chuck Jones's work. Unlike Walt Disney, Jones and his fellow animators at Warner Brothers were not interested in cartoons that mimicked reality. They pursued instead the reality of the imagination, the Toon world where believability is more important than realism and movement is the ultimate aesthetic arbiter. Kenner offers both a fascinating explanation of cartoon culture and a new understanding of art's relationship to technology, criticism, freedom, and imagination.

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Kenner provides a brief, lively history of animation before focusing on the Warner Brothers animation studio, out of which came the wildest, most outrageous cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s. As Kenner notes, Warner was the only place in animation where the auteur theory applies, for each Warner cartoon director had his own take on the studio's characters. Chuck Jones was one of the directors responsible for the classics featuring the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the Road Runner, and his mastery of the Warner characters' personalities, along with his distinctive comic sensibilities (more droll than outlandish) and sense of visual design, made his cartoons standouts. In his somewhat rambling essay, Kenner makes perceptive observations on Jones' career and the artistry behind his six-minute gems. But since many of Kenner's biographical details and most of his illustrations are duplicated from Jones' memoir, Chuck Amuck (1989), you might, if you already own the earlier book, want to pass on Kenner's. Wherever there's keen adult interest in animation, however, it's still highly recommended. Gordon Flagg

About Chuck Jones:

Chuck Jones, Animator

  • Born: 21 September 1912
  • Birthplace: Spokane, Washington
  • Died: 22 February 2002 (heart failure)
  • Best Known As: Animated director of Bugs Bunny

Chuck Jones was the most famous director of cartoons for the legendary Warner Brothers animation studios. Along with animators like Tex Avery, Jones developed Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, and other wacky cartoon characters. After Warner Brothers closed its animation division in 1962, Jones worked on Tom and Jerry cartoons and many other projects including the hit TV version of the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). In the 1980s and 1990s Warners cartoons enjoyed renewed popularity and Jones became a revered guru from animation's first golden age. Jones died in February of 2002 at his home in Corona del Mar, California, where he had been suffering from congestive heart failure.

Jones was given an honorary Academy Award in 1996 for his lifetime of work... One of Jones's more whimsical characters was Michigan J. Frog.


About the Author:

Hugh Kenner is one of America's great literary critics and has written on a range of subjects that includes Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, and geodesic domes.


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Last Updated ( October 02 2006 )
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