McCay, Winsor

McCay, Winsor, b. 1867 or 1869, d. 1934, American newspaper cartoonist and film animator, b. Canada or Spring Lake, Mich. McCay began painting signs and posters in Chicago, later drawing and writing for newspapers in Cincinnati. He came to New York in 1903, and worked as a newspaper cartoonist. Among his most successful strips were Little Sammy Sneeze and the surreal Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (1904–13). His most famous cartoon was the weekly Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905–11), which ran in the New York Herald. In it, McCay varied the size of each panel to provide variety and emphasis to the title character's surrealistic dreams the strip also displays his mastery of draftsmanship, perspective, and bold color. Little Nemo was the basis for a 1908 animated film, and McCay also created the first animated film not derived from a strip, Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). His Sinking of the Lusitania (1917) was the first feature-length animated cartoon, and one of the first such films to use cels.

See biography by J. Canemaker (rev. ed. 2005) C. Taylor, ed., Winsor McCay: Early Works (2003) P. Maresca, ed., Little Nemo in Slumberland—So Many Splendid Sundays (2005) U. Merkl, The Complete Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (2007).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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