Bill Peckmann &Books &Chuck Jones &Illustration 07 May 2013 03:39 am


- I have always been aware of Frank Tashlin‘s book, “The Bear That Wasn’t,” and I have never liked it. Well, Bill Peckmann sent me a copy of scans of the book, and I realize that I’ve disliked it because of CHuck Jones’ insipid animated adaptation. When you look at the actual book and the beautiful illustrations, you realize how sensitive the material is and how beautifully handled it is. The illustrations are, in a word, great.

I’m so pleased Bill sent these scns to me, and I almost disgrace the post by ending with the Jones cartoon. It’s no wonder Tashlin disliked Chuck’s work. Take a look. First a lead-in by Bill:

    Grim Natwick was an admirer of Frank Tashlin, and all I can say to that is… it takes a renaissance man to know a renaissance man.

    Here is the 1962 Dover reprint of Frank Tashlin’s 1946 book, “The Bear That Wasn’t


BearCover 1
The original cover

Bear2 2

Bear3 3

Bear4 4

Bear5 5

Bear6 6

Bear7 7

Bear8 8

Bear9 9

Bear10 10

Bear11 11

Bear12 12

Bear13 13

Bear14 14

Bear15 15

Bear16 16

Bear17 17

Bear18 18

Bear19 19

Bear20 20

Bear21 21

Bear22 22




Bear26 26

Bear27 27

2Bear28 28

2Bear29 29

2Bear30 30

2Bear31 31

2Bear32 32

2Bear33 33

2Bear34 34

2Bear35 35

2Bear36 36

2Bear37 37

2Bear38 38

2Bear39 39

2Bear40 40

2Bear41 41

2Bear42 42

2Bear43 43

2Bear44 44

2Bear45 45

2Bear46 46

2Bear47 47

2Bear48 48

2Bear49 49

Bear Ad
This was a publisher’s ad to booksellers
that came out when the book did.

Here’s the Chuck Jones cartoon as released by MGM.

It’s got problems that weren’t in the book.
They mostly come from Chuck Jones.

13 Responses to “Bears”

  1. on 07 May 2013 at 8:33 am 1.Oswald said …

    Isn’t that great? I’ve only recently looked at the Chuck Jones cartoon again (mainly focusing on Maurice Noble’s work) and wished for a complete set of scans of the original book which I have only read about until now.
    Thanks as well to Bill Peckman!

  2. on 07 May 2013 at 9:31 am 2.Bill Benzon said …

    The book has an elegance and economy that’s lost in the cartoon.

  3. on 07 May 2013 at 11:10 am 3.John said …

    Just in case you didn’t see them, Paul Spector posted his dad’s storyboard from the 1967 cartoon on his website four years ago.

    The factory workers have a bit of that early 1960s Paramount look that Irv would have brought over from the East Coast — instead of Paul Frees, I could easily picture them with Eddie Lawrence’s voices — but by the time the short was completed it had those extra frills Chuck and Maurice Nobel ladled onto every cartoon the Jones unit did from about 1961 on.

  4. on 07 May 2013 at 1:40 pm 4.Joel Brinkerhoff said …

    There’s an economy to the book that is missing from the cartoon but it’s typical Jones and still follows the book fairly closely. Was it the embellishment of design that Tashlin did’nt like?

    I know Walt Kelly was pretty angry about the Jones version of Pogo too.

  5. on 07 May 2013 at 1:50 pm 5.Tom Minton said …

    They apparently considered the circus sequence redundant and, of course, no animation studio really ever wants to have to layout and animate anything resembling a circus. Paul Frees does a decent job of voicing absolutely everything save for that overused female choir, which IS redundant, except for one or two lines where the flustered bear pleads his case to the equally flustered President of the factory. For a moment in that section, Frees’ arguing vocals sound identical when they’re supposed to be two different characters. A shot or two of the bear from the front in the President’s office might have helped but we don’t get one. Noticing years ago that Frank Tashlin’s name appears on the credits of this one shot MGM cartoon along with that of Chuck Jones, I asked Ben Washam (who animated on it) how involved Tashlin was in its production. It looks more like a Chuck Jones production of the time and Maurice Noble is listed as the co-director. All Benny said was that he thought Tashlin took the money he got from MGM (for the use of his book) and bought a hamburger. Frank Tashlin wrote other books that have yet to be adapted for animation. This cartoon should have been better.

  6. on 07 May 2013 at 2:33 pm 6.the Gee said …

    I’m kind of embarrassed that I’ve only heard of the book and the Jones cartoon version.

    I may have seen something from both earlier but nothing memorable.

    Sometime today, I’ll get back to look through this but I do have a question.

    Isometric perspective is used a lot in the illustrations, for the times, was that common or uncommon in storybook/illustration? I want to say Richard Scarry used it. And, a lot of illustration done on computer in recent years uses it a lot.

    But, for hand drawn, painted, etc., way back when ?

  7. on 07 May 2013 at 3:13 pm 7.Roberto Severino said …

    I remember seeing this cartoon many times on Boomerang when I was about 13 or 14 and really enjoyed Chuck Jones’s interpretation of Tashlin’s book. I have never seen the book scans before, so thank you so much for posting them. Time for some studies of these drawings.

  8. on 07 May 2013 at 3:15 pm 8.Roberto Severino said …

    “There’s an economy to the book that is missing from the cartoon but it’s typical Jones and still follows the book fairly closely. Was it the embellishment of design that Tashlin did’nt like?”

    I remember reading something about how Frank Tashlin really didn’t like the fact that the bear smokes cigarettes in the Jones cartoon and how it ruined his innocence or something like that.

  9. on 07 May 2013 at 4:16 pm 9.Mark Mayerson said …

    I wonder if Jules Feiffer was aware of this book, as his Munro, later adapted into an animated film by Gene Deitch, has a very similar fish-out-of-water story.

  10. on 07 May 2013 at 6:42 pm 10.Nat said …

    I actually liked Jones’s short, but their is a sort of deeper feeling that the novel evokes than the short. I can’t explain it really.

  11. on 07 May 2013 at 8:02 pm 11.Stephen Macquignon said …

    The book defiantly has a charm that is lacking int the animated version.
    One if the things I like about the book it the texture of the bear.

  12. on 08 May 2013 at 9:27 am 12.Kevin Hogan said …

    The short falls flat because Jones is more interested in his cutesy character designs, stuffy backgrounds, and his over-used poses. The book itself is mearly a starting point for Jones.

  13. on 08 May 2013 at 10:41 am 13.Michael J. Ruocco said …

    I know Mike Barrier posted an interview he had with Tashlin way back when, and when asked about the Jones cartoon, he was pretty upset about it. The thing that got him was that right when the bear wakes up in the factory, they put a cigarette in the bear’s mouth. He felt that it ruined the character, made him already a man in that case. It affected him on a psychological level.

    Here’s a link to the interview:

    I noticed Jones, despite putting himself and his quirks into EVERYTHING he adapts, did retain a few things from the book, like the overall design/shape of the bear and the bear cub. They looks very similar. But personally, I think the whole cartoon drags about, and agreeing with the other commenters, I think the book contains a much stronger, deeper and more charming approach.

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