Monday, July 5, 2010

Chuck Redux: Fun Facts About Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are two of the world’s most beloved cartoon foes. This dueling duet made their cinematic debut in Fast and Furry-ous on September 16, 1949. It was almost three years before the next Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner film, Beep, Beep would appear.

Over a span of fourteen years, their creator Chuck Jones, would direct a total of twenty three short films (1949 – 1963), showing that the food chain isn’t what it’s cracked up to be…at least not for this bewildered coyote. The cartoon Beep Prepared was nominated for an Academy Award(tm) in 1961.

Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese created Fast and Furry-ous as a parody of chase movies that CJXCEL-82 copy were popular at the time. Unwittingly, their chase parody was better than the rest and they became the chase films of the 20th century.

In his book Chuck Amuck, Jones writes: “I first became interested in the coyote while devouring Mark Twain’s Roughing It at the age of seven. I had heard of the coyote only in passing references from passing adults and thought of it – if I thought of it at all – as a sort of dissolute collie. As it turns out, that is just about what a coyote is; and no one saw it more clearly than Mark Twain.

Jones also writes: “The author’s (Mark Twain) description of a coyote went like this: 'The coyote is a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton with a grey wolf skin stretched over it…he is a living, breathing allegory of want. Who could resist such an enchanting creature?’"

As for the Road Runner’s trademark sound, “it came from a background artist named Paul Julian,” says Chuck. “One day he was coming down the hall carrying a lot of background paintings and couldn’t see where he was going, so he just went ‘Beep, Beep’. When I heard it, I realized that’s the sound the Road Runner should make."

In animation, it’s important to maintain a consistency with each character. For the Coyote-Road Runner series, Jones and his staff were always cognizant of the following rules:

RULE 1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “Beep-Beep!”

RULE 2. No outside force can harm the Coyote - only his own ineptitude or the failure of ACME products.

RULE 3. The Coyote could stop anytime - if he were not a fanatic. “A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim” – George Santayana.

RULE 4. No dialog ever except “Beep-Beep!”

RULE 5. The Road Runner must stay on the road – otherwise, logically, he would not be called a Road Runner.

RULE 6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters – the Southwest American desert.

RULE 7. All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the ACME Corporation.

RULE 8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.

RULE 9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.

Chuck Redux: Fun Facts About Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

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