Chuck Jones is to me, first and foremost, two things for which he rarely gets much popular credit: a great film director and an astute, warm and stylish writer. He sometimes doesn't even get credit as an animated cartoonist - the ubiquity and volume of his creations eclipses the work he personally put into them. But while his name is familiar in the cartoon world, and will at least occasionally pop up in the positive opinions of someone who considers him a proper director, there is a decided, unfortunate lack of attention paid to his legacy of written wit.
The easiest way to experience Chuck Jones's superior storytelling is two read his two published memoirs, Chuck Amuck and Chuck Reducks. But I also recently discovered another treasure trove of Chuck Jones's writing online. At the official blog run by his company, Chuck Redux, his daughter, Linda Jones Clough, has been regularly publishing her collection of letters her father, Chuck Jones, wrote to her over the course of several years.
Dear degenerate younger generation:
How can I expect you to write me when I so seldom write you? Easy. I expect you to write every day, but I don’t hold my breath each day waiting for you to do so. Why? On account of I can only hold my breath for five days at a time. Then I get blue in the face and my eyes pop out…and roll around on the floor endangering the lives of passersby; eyeballs are slippery, almost as much as baanana skins. Two "a"s in banana, starting right now. How about baanaana? Or even baanaanaa?
Not only is it a charming look at the vanished practice of letter-writing, and a glimpse at a genuinely fond and friendly relationship between father and daughter, but the letter collection is also a tribute to an uniquely intelligent, nimble and creative mind. The kind that we don't always take the time to acknowledge anymore, unless maybe if it's displayed in 140 characters or less.
No parental pats or admonishments today. I wouldn’t know just where to pat or of what to admonish. No reports of you yet. Are you in the pokey? (Jail) Have you been elected president of the United States? Have you been tossed into some lime-pit, reserved for recalcitrant students? If so, I want some of your tuition back. I want some back if you are only in jail, part of the dough goes for board, you know. Why not send us one of your fingers, to prove you are still alive? You’ve got lots of fingers, it’s not like I was asking for a leg.
Much like his sweet, clever films, Chuck's words are worth taking the time to enjoy. Take a swing through the letter archive some afternoon when you need to feel lighter.
All quotes and images are from and remain the property of Chuck Redux. Thanks for their generosity in sharing them.