Back in 2001, you could see some wonderful and innovative cartoons on the Internet. I’m talking about Thomas TimberWolf, an (unfortunately) short series made sometime in 2000-2001 by Chuck Jones and company. This series is possibly the last animation work of Chuck Jones, who died in 2002. This was about the same time that you could see some truly crappy cartoons on TV — not that things have improved much nowadays. But let’s get back to the good stuff…
One of the wonderful things about Thomas TimberWolf is that the series was done in Flash. While some of the smooth movement and art of hand-drawn cartoons was lost, what we gained was a small file size (about 2.8 MB for 5-6 minutes of fun) and vector art. Vector art?! Oh yeah. It means you can scale any of these cartoons up to whatever size you want, and the lines will still be smooth and crisp. No pixelation, no blurriness, only clear lines and colors. Wonderful!
Let’s also not forget that the cartoons themselves are great. I mean, c’mon, we’ve got an intellectual timber wolf with a tragi-comic flaw: every time he says the word “Timber!”, trees fall on him. He spends his days trying to avoid falling trees and not entirely succeeding. How can you not be entertained by that? 😀 What’s even better is that Chuck Jones’ signature style was retained during the computer animation process. We’ve got the same minimalistic gags, the familiar, endearing character art, and that wonderful, non-specific warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you watch quality stuff. I can’t describe it, but any cartoon aficionado will probably know what I’m talking about.
Thomas TimberWolf was released on the Internet in 2001, and it seems that a short while after the series ended, the Flash files became easily accessible on various sites, without copyright restrictions. I’m not sure entirely sure about that, so don’t quote me on it, but that seems to be the case. At any rate, I believe I downloaded the episodes from this same site several years ago. They’re still up and available there, so that’s a good thing.
Although only 13 episodes got released to the public, there are about 6 more episodes available, and that’s straight from the horse’s mouth. Stephen Fossati, who created, directed, wrote and co-produced the series, said it sometime in 2005. Stephen Fossati is Chuck Jones’ only living protege and worked closely with him for about 10 years. Their collaboration culminated with the Thomas TimberWolf series. I would love to see the other episodes, and I wonder where they are. If anybody has information about them, please let me know.
If for some reason the site where the episodes are posted goes down, I have them and can post them here. I’m not sure about the legality of it. If someone can give me the all clear on it, I’ll gladly put them up.
So, while they’re still available, go download all of the episodes, and keep them safely on your hard drives. They should be preserved for posterity.