Jones, Chuck (1912–2002) By Leskosky, Richard J.
Cartoon director Charles Martin ‘Chuck’ Jones studied drawing at Los Angeles’s Chouinard Art Institute. He briefly worked for Ub Iwerks and Walter Lantz before becoming an animator at Leon Schlesinger/Warner Bros. studio in 1933, where he was promoted to director in 1937 and was later instrumental in unionising the Schlesinger animators in 1941.
While best known for creating the characters of Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, and the romantic Skunk Pépé LePew, Jones also helped to develop the characters of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig. He directed the campaign film Hell-Bent for Election (1944) for Industrial Films (later UPA), and anticipated UPA’s influential modernistic developments with Matisse-inspired backgrounds in Hold the Lion, Please! (1942); abstract, expressive backgrounds in The Aristo Cat (1943); and limited animation and stylized characters in The Dover Boys (1942). His 1950s and 1960s cartoons regularly featured layout artist Maurice Noble’s abstract and/or surreal backgrounds. The Roadrunner cartoons’ desert landscapes accented the absurdity of hapless Coyote’s inventions and misadventures, and surrealism permeated Duck Amuck (1953), Rabbit Rampage (1955), and One Froggy Evening (1955). Jones’s High Note (1960) and The Dot and the Line (1965) featured the most abstract characters in any Hollywood cartoon.