Saturday, 21 April 2012

Unit 5 Animator Bio: Winsor McCay

 Winsor McCay can be described as one of the first pioneers in drawn animation and though not the very first he was the first to show that animation could be used for commercial use in cinema instead of a cult following.
His birth remains a little elusive to this date but it’s narrowed down to 1867-1871 in the Great Lakes region, most likely on the Canadian side. Ever since a child McCay was an excellent artist and continuously drew throughout his childhood and teen years. In 1886 his parents sent him off to a college in the neighbouring Michigan to become a businessman however at the same time he was taught art by a James Goodison at a different college in the area. Even though this was his only formal art training it was enough to drive his already existing talent towards the right direction.
In 1891 not having enough money to attend university and having finished his job with an engraving company McCay moved to Ohio, where he met his wife, to work at a dime museum as an artist. His career as an animator started little by little from this point; he began to do vaudeville (a type of theatrical genre) chalk talks by drawing faces and then aging them. At the same time one of his other jobs was creating comic strips for publishing and newspapers.

The vaudeville acts then led him on to creating Gertie the Dinosaur, in which he would also participate in the animation making it seem like the dinosaur was alive. This was the critical point in which animation could be seen in a new light of film industry. It was also one of the first animated features to present a character with a sense of a real personality which other animation were lacking at the time.
McCay continued to draw editorial cartoons in a newspaper, American, till his death in 1934. His drawing was his dream and creative release, “He wanted animation to be an art. He wanted newspaper strips to appeal to the eye and the soul. He wanted to draw. No matter how many barriers stood in his way, he managed to accomplish that.” (Vadeboncoeur, 2000)

Vadeboncoeur, J. (2000) Illustrators At: (Accessed on 21.04.12)
Illustration List
Fig. 1 Winsor McCay [online image] At: (Accessed on 21.04.12)
Fig. 2 Gertie the Dinosaur [online image] At: (Accessed on 21.04.2012)

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