In the world of animation, there are very few names that loom as large as that of Chuck Jones (1912 - 2002). While at Warner Bros., Mr. Jones was responsible for some of the most memorable cartoon characters ever created. These include The Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Pepe Le Pew, and Marvin The Martian - among many others. He was so well respected that he won four Academy Awards, and was nominated a total of eight times.
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.