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Chuck Jones: The Dream that Never Was Hardcover – December 27, 2011
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About the Author
Born on September 21, 1912 in Spokane, Washington, Chuck Jones grew up in Hollywood where he observed the talents of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and worked occasionally as a child extra in Mack Sennett comedies. After graduating from Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles (now California Institute of the Arts) Jones drew pencil portraits for a dollar a piece on Olvera Street. Then, in 1932, he got his first job in the fledgling animation industry as a cel washer for former Disney animator, Ub Iwerks. In 1936 Jones was hired by Friz Freleng as an animator for the Leon Schlesinger Studio.
He directed his first film, , in 1937. He was a key part of Warner Bros. animation studio from the 1940s until the studio closed in 1962 in what all critics consider the Golden Age of Animation. He then moved to MGM Studios and established his own production company, Chuck Jones Enterprises, thrilling new generations of fans.
Top customer reviews
Now for the book...Wow what a find. I have never written a review for anything ever. But this book is so well done it merits praise. When I first held it I thought this thing is heavy. I mean it is a thick book. When I opened it I could see why. Professional grade art paper (giclee), every page is high quality. The art in usual Chuck Jones fashion is phenomenal. There's so much to enjoy about this book. I am not a art critic and my review is purely based on own my opinion, so if you disagree...fine. But for my 2 cent opinion...(if it's worth that) I wear white cotton gloves to turn the pages, treating it like the fine art it is. We are fortunate to live in an age where most anyone can have such a masterpiece for such a reasonable price.
He had one spectacular failure however, which is almost never discussed. In the new IDW book Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was, edited by Dean Mullaney & Kurtis Findlay, we are introduced to Crawford - a character Chuck worked on in various formats for a period of 27 years.
The nine-year old Crawford was initially to be introduced to the public in 1962, on the first Road Runner TV series. The character did not quite fit the tone of the show however, and wound up on the cutting room floor. This was to be the case time and again during the 1960s and `70s, until one day the opportunity arose for Crawford to become a syndicated newspaper comic strip.
By this time, Crawford had been refined numerous times. Jones had developed various proposals for a TV show starring Crawford, and during this time had fleshed out the character considerably. For various reasons though, much of it simply bad luck - the proposals were never picked up. So when the opportunity arose to bring Crawford to life in the newspapers, Chuck went for it.
Opinions vary as to why Crawford the comic strip only lasted for five months before being pulled, but that of Robert Reed - who was president of the Chicago Tribune - New York News Syndicate is telling; "I think it was a bit too sophisticated for the public and the editors," he said.
Chuck Jones never really gave up on Crawford though. As late as 1989, he was still working on trying to get a version of it up and running as a Saturday morning cartoon show. It remains unproduced to this day.
The long history of Chuck Jones' attempts to bring his pet project to life are fascinating. The book contains a plethora of storyboards for the various projects he had in mind, which shed some intriguing light on his working process.
The coolest feature of the book is the reprints of the strips themselves. The name of the strip had become "Crawford And Morgan," and detailed the adventures of Crawford and his friend Morgan. The dailies are in black and white, and the Sunday editions are in full color. There is also a section of unfinished and unpublished strips. Thanks to Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was we now have the full story of Crawford - and it is as intriguing a story as one is likely to come across in the world of animation.
The strip ran for such a short amount of time in so few papers it's no wonder it's virtually unknown today; that is until now. "The Dream That Never Was" is a boon for comic nerds, but sadly light on actual entertainment.
Crawford's journey over the years from movie side character to proposed TV show to short-lived comic strip is meticulously documented, along with everything else Jones was working at the time. This is probably the most in-depth coverage of Jones' post-Looney Tunes career you'll ever find.
However, it doesn't take long to figure out why the strip only lasted a few months; it's painfully boring and unfunny. I got maybe two mild chuckles out of the entire run. So much of it is just puffed up semantics and pseudo-intellectualism. What am I supposed to do with punchlines like "Happiness is a warm aphorism"?
The characters are all bland and largely interchangeable. After reading every single strip, the only thing I know about the title character is that he's bad at sports. Jones' writeup of the best friend character Morgan only gives him two minor traits (arcane trivia knowledge and an inability to remember Crawford's name) and both are completely used up after the first week of strips.
Even though I'm not a big fan of Chuck Jones' art style in his later work, I have to admit that the quality of the artwork is fantastic; far better than all but a few newspaper strips. And getting to see roughs, thumbnails and alternate panels is quite a treat. The section of storyboards for the proposed TV show are also very nice, and show more promise than what the strip ended up being.
If you're a huge fan of Chuck Jones or comics and the history thereof, by all means give this book a shot. Just don't expect the humor to inspire much re-reading.