Saturday, November 04, 2017
And This Blog Loves Winsor McCay
Binge-watching turn of the 20th century films by Émile Cohl, for this movie buff, leads inevitably to the films by another innovator in animation, Winsor McCay, the creator of amazing comics and editorial cartoons. We love the epic comic Little Nemo In Slumberland. When it comes to pure visual fantasy, Little Nemo can't be beat - more than a century later.
Count us among the frequently astonished and awed by the comics and films of this astoundingly talented artist-vaudevillian-animator-raconteur.
The prolific illustrator began creating comics for the New York Herald such as Little Sammy Sneeze and Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend in 1903 and originated Little Nemo in Slumberland, comic and fantasy Technicolor dreamscape, in 1905. McCay started in movies by bringing Little Nemo to animated form. Note that in the opening, one of Winsor's pals is Vitagraph comedy star John Bunny.
At Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we love the wonderfully grotesque film Winsor McCay made starring a wiseguy mosquito. Its not just the film's obvious visceral impact - it's that the flying blood-sucker's just a bit of a mischievous bastard. Could be considered one of the first cases of characterization in animation.
And then there's Gertie. . .
McCay's vaudeville act, with him as ringmaster and Gertie the dinosaur as featured performer, must have been something to behold.
From Wikipedia: Gertie the Dinosaur debuted in February 1914 as part of McCay's vaudeville act. McCay introduced Gertie as "the only dinosaur in captivity", and commanded the animated beast with a whip. Gertie seemed to obey McCay, bowing to the audience, and eating a tree and a boulder, though she had a will of her own and sometimes rebelled. When McCay admonished her, she cried. McCay consoled her by throwing her an apple—in reality pocketing the cardboard prop apple as a cartoon one simultaneously appeared on screen. In the finale, McCay walked offstage, reappeared in animated form in the film, and had Gertie carry him away.
Our favorites: the way-out Dreams Of A Rarebit Fiend cartoons.
One of the most astonishing McCay films is the surviving fragment from The Centaurs (1921), featuring advanced sophistication of animated movement and line.
For more info, check out John Canemaker's comprehensive book Winsor McCay, His Life And Art.