Winsor McCay (1866-1934) was a pioneering cartoonist and animator, and you can read all about his life HERE. This week we’re going to look at some of his surviving bits of animation, which range from almost a hundred years old to over 110 years old. These include animated versions of his comic strips, Little Nemo and Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend.
While McCay’s claims of “inventing” animation might be a little overstated, it’s clear that the man was decades ahead of his time when it came to the art of animation.It was decades before anybody came close to mastering his abilities in creating fluid animation.
Working on his own he created some of the most impressive animation in history. I used much of his Sinking of the Lusitania cartoon, which was finished in 1917, for the music video for the song “Swamp Thing” by The Scrap Iron Pickers. That’s at the head of this post. Below you’ll see a few more of his animated shorts, all of which were created in 1921, or earlier.
These cartoons are filled with McCay’s trademark impeccable draftsmanship combined with surreal humor and bizarre situations.
There is an urban legend…supportedt by geographical facts…that McCay, in his later years living in Brooklyn, gave drawing lessons to a poor, young neighborhood child named Jacob Kurtzberg. If this is true, then it might explain who it was that encouraged the young cartoonist who would become more famous under the name “Jack Kirby” when he grew up.