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Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist Paperback – December 3, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (December 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374526206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374526207
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #855,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist is a sort of autobiography of Chuck Jones, the brilliant Warner Brothers animator who created such enduring characters as Wile E. Coyote and Marvin the Martian. Like his best cartoons, Jones skips around to the fun parts, giving a bit of childhood here, a few words of drawing advice there, and a good yarn wherever one fits. Jones also manages to work in a detailed yet somehow never boring description of the long and silly process of making a cartoon. Jones is refreshingly generous about spreading credit around to others. He fondly remembers art teachers, tips his hat to fellow directors and mentors Friz Freleng and Tex Avery, and gives the reader a new appreciation of the layout men who create the backgrounds for animated features. Most engaging are Jones's accounts of office life at Warner Brothers, which sounds like just as much fun as you hope it would be. Jones recounts stories of drawing tables wired to wake up sleeping animators when the boss approached and Cal Howard, a gag writer who ran an illegal commissary out of his metal-lined desk. The book is filled with sketches and color plates of much-loved moments from Warner Brothers cartoons and even includes a quick Road Runner and Coyote scene that comes to life when the pages are flipped. Highly recommended for kids who like to draw and adults who have not lost their appreciation for Looney Toons. --Ali Davis

From Publishers Weekly

Film animation, like comedy, is an art of timing, writes Jones, and in this short, unpretentious, amusing memoir, the director of Bugs Bunny cartoons and inventor of Roadrunner, Coyote and romantic skunk Pepe Le Pew discloses secrets of his comedic craft. Part of the team that created Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, Jones spins stories about a favorite uncle, a family cat hooked on grapefruit and why his father detested Warren Harding. He reminisces about attending art school during the Depression, his early years at Warner Brothers, the creative mayhem surrounding the birth of some of his classic cartoons. With gemlike anecdotes, Jones pays tribute to directors, fellow animators, writers, a sound-effects specialist. He cursorily covers his career since leaving Warner, which includes the production of TV specials ( The Cricket in Times Square ) and films ( The Phantom Tollbooth ). Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I laugh out loud every time I read this book.
Papi Crabtree
One minor quibble: the book would have benefited by eliminating the inane introductions, particularly the one by Matt Groening.
D. Guenzel
I bought this book after having borrowed it from the library - it's that good.
LYNN

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 1997
Format: Paperback
To read "Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist" is to be transported back to the days when Termite Terrace turned out the most popular cartoons the world will ever know. Not only does Chuck (how can we call someone we know so well "Mr. Jones" or just "Jones"?) explain the childhood, adolescence and career life that brought him to where he is, he also takes the reader into that wonderful nether-world in a neglected corner of the Warner Bros. Studios lot where Leon Schlessinger ruled a bunch of underpaid, barely appreciated cartoonists. And they actually LOVED what they were doing! The people who gave the world Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies come to life so vividly, one can almost smell the ink and paint.
Profusely illustrated with doodles, sketches, caricatures and photographs, "Chuck Amuck" is a literary and visual delight. And, as an added bonus, there's even an actual Wile E. Coyote cartoon that you can enjoy without a VCR or a movie projector!
The book's only low point is that the foreword was written by Steven Spielberg, whose "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" are little more than flagrant rip-offs of Chuck's (and Tex Avery's and Bob Clampett's) best material.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By W. Langan on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Chuck Jones is one of the best known people in the animation business. He's been in the animation business for over 65 of his 88 years(as I write this review, he'll be 88 on the 12th of this month!).
This book lists all of the cartoons he's been involved with (Warner Bros, MGM, Dr. Suess specials, and many others). Also, he talks about growing up, how real life inspired his cartoons, what it was like working in Warner Bros studio, pays tribute to partners Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Mike Malthese, and Abe Levitow, and talks about other projects he's done (like his How to Draw From the Fun Side of Your Brain). And as the other reviewers have pointed out, there's an animated cartoon of the Roadrunner and the Coyote on the pages of this book.
Since this book was originally published, he's produced one video in the 1990's (Chariots of Fur) and the historical and whimsical book Daffy for President (available through the US Postal Service).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reginald D. Garrard VINE VOICE on May 6, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like Tex Avery, Chuck Jones knows how to tell a joke! His autobiography is as whimsical as the characters that he created and/or supervised in his long association with Warner Brothers. His influence is seen in current animated shows such as "Animaniacs," "Histeria," and "TinyToons." So respected is Jones that many filmmakers have touted the importance that his work has had on their careers.
The book is a delight to read, with its accompanying illustrations, as well as Jones's personal reflections on the development of his beloved characters. All of the highlights of his 50-year career are included here, with full details and interesting text.
As one who shows no signs of slowing down, the octagenaric Jones will continue to delight present and future audiences with his superlative animated films.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1996
Format: Paperback
Please do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book. Chuck Jones is an American treasure and a fantastic artist. The Warner Brothers Cartoons were directed to audiences of all ages, they do not talk down to children, nor do they pretentiously preach to adults. Unfortunately, we only seem to recognize as "great" those artists who do these things.

If you believe an artist has to be "serious" to be a genius, I hope this book will change your mind!

Check out his new book, "Chuck Reducks" too
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Kwashnak VINE VOICE on June 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
The world lost an animation genius recently with the death of Chuck Jones. Luckily, there is a book like this that celebrates the animation genius he was. Arguably, Jones was the father of some of the best Warner Brothers cartoons ever made, including "Duck Amuck," "Duck Dogers in the 24th and 1/2 Century," and my personal favorite "What's Opera Doc?" He also is responsible for giving us such great pieces of pop culture as the original "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Part autobiography, part instruction, part tribute, this book shows us the man behind the screen, or should I say behind the pencil? We often wonder where a genius comes from - Chuck seems to say from anywhere. His mark on the development of the cartoon is undeniable, and monumental. But just as you cannot appreciate art fully until you know about the painter, so it is with Chuck's cartoons. I have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into developing these 8 minute masterpieces. Yes, it's true that Jones gave us some of the clunkers in the 60's as the Warner Brothers studio (and the MGM studio) animation division gasped what seemed to be its last breath. But it's all the more amazing that Chuck could produce such works given what little he had to work with. The world would be poorer were it not for the gives Chuck has given us, including Wile E. Coyote (super genius!),and the Road Runner, Pepe Le Pew, Marvin the Martian and many others. His style was distinctive, his contributions monumental and behind it all, he was a fascinating and talented man. This book stands as a tribute to this genius now that he's no longer with us.
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