I was asked recently about the lore that Chuck only drew on one side of paper.
The short answer is that, yes, he rarely drew on both sides of a piece of paper.
I think from a purely practical point of view having images on both sides of the paper often created a difficulty to view or reference both drawings. He used to jest that it certainly would have been troublesome if da Vinci had painted the Mona Lisa on one side of a canvas and the Last Supper on the other.
The entire practice of using only one side of a piece of paper actually started for him and his siblings when they were very young. As Chuck would tell the story, my great-grandfather, Charles Adams Jones, started a new business venture quite often. Each time he created this new company, he bought reams of new paper and boxes and boxes of new pencils, each complete with new company name and letterhead. And, invariably, the new venture would find its demise sooner than later.
He notes in the documentary Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood, “We were forbidden—actually forbidden—to draw on both sides of the paper. Because, of course, Father wanted to get rid of the stationery from a defunct business as soon as possible, and he brought logic to bear in sustaining his viewpoint: ‘You never know when you’re going to make a good drawing.'”
On a rare occasion, we would find the beginnings of a sketch on one side of a page and a completely different portrayal on the reverse. I never knew if this was just an abandonment or an oversight as the paper flowed easily through his home studio.
I include here a few sketches from different times of his life as a memory of his creative endeavors on paper…