Chuck Jones wasn’t the only person to draw and direct cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote.
But he and the characters went on to become legends together, and through Jan. 19, the Museum of the Moving Image will host an exhibition of Jones’ works, original rough sketches and thoughts on animation and the creative process.
Linda Jones Clough, his daughter and eventual business partner, is not surprised that her father’s work still is popular today, and that movies, comics and TV shows can still get a laugh by dropping a famous tag line from one of his characters.
“When you’re familiar with something, when it becomes something you love, you know those references,” she said.
She said Jones sought to inspire people’s creativity not just among animators, but in whatever form they expressed themselves.
“He said any worthwhile endeavor should be 90 percent work and 10 percent love. And only the love should show.”
Carl Goodman, executive director of MoMI, said the exhibit is a collaboration among the museum, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.
Jones was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 1996.
Three of his cartoons, “Duck Amuck,” “One Froggy Evening” and “What’s Opera, Doc?” are in the National Film Registry.
He also directed the classic Dr. Seuss cartoons “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Horton Hears a Who!”
He died in 2002 at age 89.
The exhibit features working sketches, storyboards, pictures and animation cels of some of Jones’ classic characters from the family archives, including Bugs, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. and others.
A selection of his cartoons will run in the museum’s theater, as they were intended to be seen originally.
On Saturdays between noon and 5 p.m. there will be hands-on animation lessons for children.
Jones Clough said Chuck — “I began calling him ‘Chuck’ because it got awkward being at high level meetings at Warner Brothers and saying ‘Daddy’” — had an eye for detail in each aspect of a cartoon.
A single word or inflection did not escape his attention.
“The dialogue would come from the storyboards,” she said. “He would make 200 or 300 drawings, give them to the animators and work closely with them. They were the actors he was directing.”
More than 100 of those are on display.
She also said Jones, working in a medium with 24 frames of film per second, learned to “respect each frame.”
“He said one or two frames” — 1/24th to 1/12th of a second — “could be the difference between a laugh and no laugh.”
She said Steven Spielberg and John Lasseter are among those who credit Jones with teaching them that lesson.
He knew and could read music well enough to have a close working relationship with Warner Brothers composers Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn to make sure the music lent just the right mood.
“He loved music,” Jones Clough said. “He loved opera. Sometimes, when he would go to the opera with my mother or his second wife, they would play something that he used in ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ and they couldn’t help laughing. Sometimes he’d look around and other people were laughing too.
“They got the reference.”