Hunches in Bunches
How It All Goes Down
We're going to assume you've seen your fair share of Seuss illustrations. Maybe it's the fact that his art alone is famous for being equal parts original and whimsical; or perhaps because his drawings have accompanied childhood favorite books for generations of readers; or maybe it's because his art style has gone on to inspire television shows, movies, and even amusement park attractions. Take your pick.
Yes, Dr. Seuss's artwork is as universally famous as his poetic tales, and Hunches in Bunches is drawn in a very traditional Seuss manner, recalling many of his artistic motifs from such Seuss classics as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax and The Sneetches. But that doesn't mean we can't find something interesting to discuss here, does it? Of course not.
Same Old Same Old?
The characters and environments in Hunches are outlined with a dark black ink. The line work isn't super defined, though, and it provides the characters a sketchy, old-school cartoony feel. The Hunches themselves come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but most of them follow Seuss's typical characterization of being very fuzzy and limber looking. Frequent use of motion lines also grants a sense of dynamic movement to the otherwise static characters.
The backgrounds mostly consist of simple walls and geometric shapes dressed in one or two colors. These backgrounds tend to do without straight lines though, preferring rounded corners and less than straight angles. Sometimes the poem calls for something to be inserted into the backgrounds for the characters to interact with, such as the window from stanza six. Even then, these background images tend to follow the trend of being simply colored, curved, and hardly ever ornate.
There are a few key features that separate Hunches in Bunches from the illustrations in Seuss's earlier books. The color scheme is a notable standout. In earlier works like If I Ran the Zoo, technology or stylistic choice (both?) prevented Seuss from developing a very elaborate color palette, resulting in a lot of primary reds and blues and yellows. Here, we see Seuss using many different hues and shades of light blues, grays, browns and whites in the background, and nearly the entire Crayola line-up of colors to color in the Hunches.
Words and Pictures Unite
The illustrations in Hunches in Bunches really bring the poem to life in a way that the words alone just couldn't quite manage. The illustrations and words of the poem each provide a different take on the same story, and when combined together, they create a unique experience neither could manage alone.
For example, the poem alone gives no hints as to the anthropomorphic aspects of the Hunches. With just the words, we could picture a boy sitting in his chair and never consider the Hunches as anything more than shapeless ponderings. For example, when the boy sees his first Hunch, he says:
There I was inside the house,
so fuddled up I could shout,
when I got a hunch,
a Happy Hunch,
that I shouldn't be in…but OUT! (6.1-4)
The phrase "got a hunch" suggests the boy simply thought to himself he wanted to be outside. We wouldn't necessarily read this passage as the illustration paints it, with the boy rising from his chair to see the Happy Hunch outside with its come-hither hat.
So the words and pictures play tug-of-war with our understanding of the story. The words give us the reality of the situation—i.e., the boy's just thinking through his hunches. The pictures provide us with a portal into the boy's not-so-humdrum imagination as it plays with these ideas. The contrast between the two shows us how weird and wonderful something as monotonous and irritating as not being able to make up your mind can be, if you just add a pinch of imagination to the proceedings.