Sunday, 21 September 2008

Herbert and Chuck

H. G. Wells is 142 today. I've always had a soft spot for him as one of the first writers I discovered a real hunger for. In my very early teens I read avidly all the science fantasies, the earlier novels (before didacticism set in and spoiled everything) and, with especial pleasure, the short stories. I still have the stout red volume of Wells's complete short stories that I was given (at my urgent request) one birthday. I don't know if I would enjoy him now as much as I did then - I rather doubt it - but on recent rereading The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds came up as fresh and vividly imagined as ever. Nabokov, I seem to recall, was very keen too, especially on The Invisible Man....
As it happens, today is also the 96th birthday of the great animator Chuck Jones (or would be - he only made it to 89). I greatly prefer his animations to Disney's - which seems to be regarded as heresy in some quarters. Jones never gets cutesy and sentimental, and his cartoons just look better and move better. And of course, in addition to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and the rest of the immortals, Jones also created that 'Citizen Kane of animated film', One Froggy Evening. If anyone can spot a link between H.G. Wells and Chuck Jones with which to round off this post, I'd be most grateful - I'm darned if I can....


  1. You reveal fine tastes, Nige. I'm a huge fan of Wells too, though I often wonder if I'm the only person who still reads him. I too prefer Chuck Jones to Disney. The Road Runner is my favourite cartoon of all. I think that both Wells and Jones both acknowledge the vital passions in Man but doesn’t hide away the less refined side to our nature.

    The way that Bedford in 'The First Men in the Moon' lays into the moon creatures is very Chuck Jones. The humour is there as much as the violence and social commentary.

  2. In the Paris Review interview, Nabokov said:

    "H.G. Wells, a great artist, was my favorite writer when I was a boy. The Passionate Friends, Ann Veronica, The Time Machine, The Country of the Blind, all these stores are far better than anything Bennett, or Conrad, or, in fact, any of Wells's contemporaries could produce. His sociological cogitations can be safely ignored, of course, but his romances and fantasias are superb."

  3. I'd say that here in the U.S. Jones's superiority to Disney is by now assumed by most people, just as Keaton is assumed to be Chaplin's superior.

  4. Nicely linked, Spine (may I call you The?). Thanks for the quote, Dave - knew it was out there somewhere. And your fellow Americans, Francis, show better taste than the Brits - again.

  5. Nige, I'd rather you call me David but after using that name on Bryan's blog, I discovered there was another David and it all became very confusing. Personally, I hate all these pseudonyms but what can a man do?