Monday, January 14, 2008

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


"A hungry mosquito spots and follows a man on his way home. The mosquito slips into the room where the man is sleeping, and gets ready for a meal. His first attempts startle the man and wake him up, but the mosquito is very persistent."

"What is a mosquito's nature? A large man enters his flat; a mosquito in top hat with valise follows, entering through the window above door. The man goes to sleep; the mosquito lands next to him, opens the valise, and takes out a grinding wheel to sharpen his proboscis. Methodically, the mosquito gets one, two, then three drinks as the man tosses, slaps, turns, covers himself, and rubs the wounds. After a fourth drink, the mosquito is so full he can barely right himself. Still he has more. Bloated, he can only hover above the sleeping man's face. Suspense builds: can he launch? He's atop his victim's nose. He jettisons his valise. Will he now be light enough to escape?"


"The Little Nemo film was released to theater and used in his act, as was his second. How a Mosquito Operates - this [one was] 6,000 drawings long. When these films were released into wider distribution, McCay's fame spread, especially to the fledgling animation community."


As I've said earlier, Winsor McCay was the true father of commercial, cartoon animation. He is most famous for Gerdie the Dinosaur, an animation that we will feature in a future blog post. However, it was always a project, not a business. It took later pioneers (like the Fleischers, Sullivan, and Disney) to have the vision of making character animation into a business where you hire people to do it, establish characters for your audience, grow the distribution, and crank out more animations.



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)

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