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Winsor McCay


Winsor McCay (September 26, 1867(?) – July 26, 1934) was an American cartoonist and animator.

A prolific artist, McCay's pioneering early animated films far outshone the work of his contemporaries, and set a standard followed by Walt Disney and others in later decades. His two best-known creations are the newspaper comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, which ran from 1905 to 1914, and the animated cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur, which he created in 1914.

His comic strip work has influenced generations of artists, including creators such as Moebius, Chris Ware, William Joyce, and Maurice Sendak.

Biography

Little Sammy Sneeze
McCay was the son of Robert McKay (later changed to McCay) and Janet Murray McKay; Robert at various times worked as a teamster, a grocer, and a real estate agent. Winsor's exact place and year of birth are uncertain — he claimed to have been born in Spring Lake, Michiganmarker in 1871, but his gravestone says 1869, and census reports state that he was born in Canadamarker in 1867. He was originally named Zenas Winsor McKay, in honor of his father's employer, Zenas G. Winsor. He later dropped the name Zenas.

In 1886, McCay's parents sent him to Cleary's Business College in Ypsilanti, Michiganmarker to learn to be a businessman. While in Ypsilanti, he also received his only formal art training, from John Goodison of Michigan State Normal College (now known as Eastern Michigan Universitymarker). Goodison taught him the strict application of the fundamentals of perspective, which he put to significant use later in his career. Goodison, formerly a glass stainer, also influenced McCay's bold use of color.

In 1889, McCay moved to Chicagomarker, intending to study at the Art Institute of Chicagomarker, but due to lack of money had to find employment instead. He worked for the National Printing and Engraving Company, producing woodcuts for circus and theatrical posters. Two years later, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohiomarker and went to work as an artist for Kohl and Middleton's Vine Street Dime Museum. While in Cincinnati he married Maude Leonore Dufour.

He died in 1934 and was buried at the Cemetery of the Evergreensmarker in Brooklynmarker.

Works

Little Nemo in Slumberland


McCay's first major comic strip series was Tales of the Jungle Imps by Felix Fiddle. Forty-three installments were published from January to November 1903, in the Cincinnati Enquirer. The strip was based on poems by George Randolph Chester, then a reporter and editor at the Enquirer. The stories concerned jungle creatures and the ways that they adapted to a hostile world, with individual titles such as How the Elephant Got His Trunk and How the Ostrich Got So Tall.

His strips Little Nemo and Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend were both set in the dreams of their characters and featured fantasy art that attempted to capture the look and feel of dreams. McCay's cartoons were never overwhelmingly popular, but always had a strong following because of his expressive graphic style. Newspaper pages were physically much larger in that time and McCay usually had a half a page to work with. For fantasy art in comics, his only rival was Lyonel Feininger, who went on to have a career in the fine arts after his comics days were over.

McCay also created a number of animated short films, in which every single frame of each cartoon (with each film requiring thousands of frames) was hand-drawn by McCay and occasionally his assistants. McCay went on vaudeville tours with his films. He presented lectures and did drawings; then he interacted with his animated films, performing such tricks as holding his hand out to "pet" his animated creations.


Still of the film 'Gertie on Tour


Laid out with exquisite detail in a manner that would only be matched during the heights of Walt Disney's cartoons of the 1930s, the star of McCay's groundbreaking animated film Gertie the Dinosaur is classified by film and animation historians as the first cartoon character created especially for film to display a unique, realistic "personality". In the film, Gertie causes trouble and cries when she is scolded, and finally she gives McCay himself a ride on her back as he steps into the movie picture.

In addition to a series of cartoons based on his popular "rarebit" gags, McCay also created The Sinking of the Lusitania, a depiction of the attack on the maritime ship. The cartoon contained a message that was meant to inspire America into joining World War I.

Selected comic strips by McCay



Filmography

  • Little Nemo (1911) also titled Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics
  • How a Mosquito Operates (1912) also titled The Story Of A Mosquito
  • Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)
  • The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)
  • Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: Bug Vaudeville (1921)
  • Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: The Pet (1921)
  • Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: The Flying House (1921)
  • The Centaurs (1921)
  • Gertie on Tour (1921)
  • Flip's Circus (1921)
  • The Barnyard Performance (1922-27?) also called Performing Animals


Books and collections

  • Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend Dover, ISBN 0-486-21347-1
  • Little Nemo in the Palace of Ice and Further Adventures Dover, ISBN 0-486-23234-4
  • The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland, Vol. I: 1905-1907 Fantagraphics ISBN 0-930193-63-6
  • The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland, Vol. II: 1907-1908 Fantagraphics ISBN 0-930193-64-4
  • The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland, Vol. III: 1908-1910 Fantagraphics
  • The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland, Vol. IV: 1910-1911 Fantagraphics
  • The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland, Vol. V: In the Land of Wonderful Dreams, Part 1: 1911-12 Fantagraphics
  • The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland, Vol. VI: In the Land of Wonderful Dreams, Part 2: 1913-14 Fantagraphics ISBN 1-56097-130-4
  • Little Nemo 1905-1914 Taschen, ISBN 3-8228-6300-9
  • The Best of Little Nemo in Slumberland Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, ISBN 1-55670-647-2
  • Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays Sunday Press ISBN 0-9768885-0-5
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 1 Checker, ISBN 0-9741664-0-5 (“Tales of the Rarebit Fiend” and “Little Sammy Sneeze”)
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 2 Checker, ISBN 0-9741664-7-2 (More “Tales of the Rarebit Fiend” and “Little Sammy Sneeze,” “Centaurs,” “Hungry Henrietta,” and editorial illustrations.)
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 3 Checker, ISBN 0-9741664-9-9 (More “Tales of the Rarebit Fiend” (1907), “Little Sammy Sneeze,” “A Pilgrim’s Progress,” (1907) and editorial illustrations from New York period.)
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 4 Checker, ISBN 0-9753808-1-8 (more Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (early 1908), A Pilgrim’s Progress (early 1908), various Little Sammy Sneezes, and New York American editorial cartoons.)
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 5 Checker, ISBN 0-9753808-2-6 (Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (late 1908), A Pilgrim’s Progress (late 1908), Phoolish Phillip (all), Hungry Henrietta (all), and New York American editorial cartoons.)
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 6 Checker, ISBN 1-933160-05-5 (“Mr Goodenough”, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (late 1908), A Pilgrim’s Progress (late 1908), and New York American editorial cartoons.)
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 7 Checker, ISBN 1-933160-05-5 (illustrations from New York editorial period, and collection of comic strips.)
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 8 Checker, ISBN 1-933160-06-3
  • Winsor McCay: Early Works, Vol. 9 Checker, ISBN 978-1-933160-07-8
  • Daydreams and Nightmares Fantagraphics, ISBN 1-56097-569-5
  • Little Sammy Sneeze Sunday Press ISBN 0-97688-854-8


References



External links




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