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

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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

The director of Bugs Bunny cartoons and inventor of Roadrunner, Coyote and Pepe Le Pew reminisces about family life and work at Warner Brothers, paying tribute to directors, animators, writers and a sound-effects specialist. PW characterized this as a "short, unpretentious, amusing memoir." Illustrated. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2 edition (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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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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8 of 8 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 David Girod VINE VOICE on March 17, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm sure I'm going to get a ton of "Not Helpful" votes here, but I simply don't recommend "Chuck Amuck". I love Chuck's cartoons, and his work with Warner Bros. Animation will live long beyond my lifetime. The Looney Tunes are timeless, as funny today as when they were first created over 6 decades ago. But this "behind the scenes" look at one of the main creators was a humorless chore to get through.

I should say that Chuck Jones himself warned me right off the bat, stating that people interested in a linear tale would find what we are looking for in the "Appendix", and he was correct. If you are interested in reading about Mr. Jones life and journey through the years at Disney, Warner Brothers and MGM, in an orderly or chronological fashion, that isn't what you get with the bulk of this novel. Instead, Mr. Jones jumps from topic to topic with little to no connectivity. A chapter about creating Daffy Duck my be followed by a chapter on swimming in the ocean and watching Sea Lions swim. You get a chapter on writing a directing a cartoon in the 1960's followed by a chapter about Chuck's 6th birthday.

I will say I enjoyed the passages where Chuck Jones talks about his coworkers and their contributions to the cartoons we all love. I would love for him to have gotten more in depth on people like; Mel Blanc, Maurice Noble and Tex Avery. Ub Iwerks isn't even mentioned until you get to the Appendix?

I guess I was hoping for something a little more personal, maybe some great stories behind a few classic cartoons, I wanted to be drawn into that golden era of animation and given a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it must have been like. Instead, "Chuck Amuck" has a cold, almost textbook like feel. Imagine an extended Wikipedia page and you'll get the idea.
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