Monday, October 15, 2012

Paying Homage to Winsor McCay

I am always happy when Google pays homage to what some may argue is an obscure artist or literary figure.

Today's Google tribute is to Winsor McCay, who is legendary in the comics community.

McCay's work is considered groundbreaking for creating an illustrated strip revolving around Little Nemo representing the fascinating fantasy world of dreams.

His early work in animated film has made him one of the forefathers of our modern era of animation.  In a sense, we can thank him for inspiring Walt Disney and others for the accompanying empire of animated film that resulted from groundbreaking work such as this.

It is especially relevant when seeing movies like ParaNorman, Coraline, Frankenweenie, Nightmare Before Christmas, and a host of other stop-motion animated films that came before and will continue to delight us.  Stop-motion bears the closest resemblance to the process laid out over 100 years ago, requiring patience as frames are photographed one by one.

In the link below, Winsor McCay films a cute silent film about putting together a short animated feature and and selling the idea to others, then presents his month of work.  While it does drag a bit by today's standards, it is a true marvel considering there was no such thing as color film in 1911. In order to project in color, it would have had to have been hand colored frame by frame.

To give me even more of a feeling of connection as an artist, he was born in Michigan and went to Ypsilanti Normal College to study art. My great grandparents made a home in Michigan, my grandfather was born there, and my father grew up in Michigan.  As well, my mother's side of the family has provided me with a gaggle of Michigander cousins.

Even without the Michigan connection, much of our animated entertainment can give a hat tip to those who set the stage for modern animated entertainment and until today many may have never even heard his name.

So, Winsor McCay, I salute you.  For helping pave the way for a happy childhood and fostering dreams of artists like me for generations.

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