Monday, January 07, 2008

The History of Animation 2 - Winsor McCay: Little Nemo (1911)


"James Stuart Blackton and Winsor McCay directed a ten minute short film based on the comic strip, of which two minutes were animated. The film was first released on April 8, 1911, the first animated effort of McCay. Later, it achieved the status of an early animated classic. Its on screen title is Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and his Moving Comics but it is usually referred to as Little Nemo."


"Nemo was an immediate hit and McCay, who liked nothing better than to draw (and never seemed to have enough money, no matter how much he made), took to the boards on June 11, 1906. He was a hit, there, too. As his bookings along the east coast increased, so did the logistical difficulties of producing three weekly comic strips and other drawings for the papers. Many strips from this period were drawn in backstage dressing rooms and in hotels as he toured with his act. When Little Nemo made it to Broadway in 1908, McCay was performing his chalk-talk across the street and had to miss a portion of opening night. The approbation of the live audience was just as crucial to him as the regard of those watching the musical based on his work."

"Within five years of arriving in New York, McCay had become one of the top artists and performers in the city. Both his comic strips and his vaudeville act were based on pacing and movement. He was about to combine all of these elements into one new art - the animated cartoon."

"While he wasn't the first person to make an animated cartoon, he was the man who defined the industry. The quality of his cartoons would not be matched for another 25 years. His pacing and understanding of the medium was far ahead of his time. And he drew all of the 4,000 cels of his first film, Little Nemo, (natch!) himself! This while he was still drawing his three strips and performing his vaudeville act. The Little Nemo film was released to theater and used in his act..."


So the father of animation, James Stuart Blackton, teamed together with the father of character-centered animation, Winsor McCay. So whenever you see someone say that Winsor's Gerdie was the first animation, tell them they're wrong! Blackton did it first, and ten years later (and several animations later), he did it again, helping Winsor get his animation chops (Winsor moved from comics to animation). Naturally, the first thing Winsor animated was his popular comic character, Nemo.

This is our first blog on Winsor. He had creativity, and he could pump out animations. However, he lacked marketability, and so he remained doing a "sideshow" rather than creating a marketable brand with his animations. Also, because he did all the drawings, it was more of a "personal project" than a "business" to him.



History of Animation 3 - Winsor McCay: How a Mosquito Operates (1912)

History of Animation 2 - Winsor McCay: Little Nemo (1911)

History of Animation 1 - J. Stuart Blackton: Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906)

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?

Popular Posts (of all time)