Winsor McCay

By | Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Leave a Comment
Winsor McCay was a wonderful cartoonist in the earlier days of the art form. His "Little Nemo in Slumberland" comic strip is often considered a masterpiece and, having read all them, I can't say I disagree. McCay literally pioneered the form and produced a wonderful strip that continually pushed the boundaries of what one can do with a comic. I find it fascinating that so many of the elements he originated are, when used today, still considered "cutting-edge."

To call him a brilliant cartoonist is an understatement, and I heartily suggest that you all look up his work.

What I'm going to present today, though, is a piece of his pioneer work in animation. McCay created what is generally attributed to be the first animated feature cartoon: Gertie the Dinosaur. It's an eight-minute piece from 1914 in which McCay brings a dinosaur to life. Originally, he produced it as a performance piece in which McCay himself stood in front of the animation and issued verbal commands to Gertie. In wider distribution, his portion of the performance was shot on film and presented as part of the Gertie cartoon itself -- although in 1914 it was no less astonishing.

I've actually known of the Gertie cartoon for some time and had seen five and ten second snippets from time to time. I'd even searched the Internet periodically for the past several years without seeing anything more than still shots. But today, I was thrilled to finally find that someone has posted a full version of the cartoon, which I'd like to share with you all now...

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