Winsor McCay

Animator / Cartoonist
Date Of Birth:
c.26 September 1869
Date Of Death:
26 July 1934
Place Of Birth:
Spring Lake, Michigan

Name at birth: Zenas Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay was a newspaper cartoonist of the early 20th century who gained national fame through his detailed and phantasmagorical strips Little Nemo in Slumberland and Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. Winsor McCay began doing poster work and chalk talks in Cincinnati in the 1880s, and by the turn of the century he was a successful newspaper illustrator. He created the strip Dream of the Rarebit Fiend for the New York Evening Telegram in 1904, and the next year began drawing Little Nemo in Slumberland for the New York Herald. Both strips took place in the dreams of their characters and featured richly colorful scenes and weirdly psychedelic characters. (The large-format newspapers of the time gave McCay plenty of room to work with.) Winsor McCay made a short animated version of Nemo in 1911. He made the world's first successful animated cartoon, Gertie the Dinosaur, in 1913, for which he drew 10,000 drawings, backgrounds included.

Extra Credit

Winsor McCay’s date of birth is disputed. His gravestone says 1869, but McCay himself sometimes claimed to have been born in 1871. Still other sources say he was born in Canada, not in Michigan, in 1867. A timeline from the Spring Lake, Michigan library says “it’s probable he was actually born in 1867 on a visit back to West Zorra” — that is, West Zorra, Ontario, Canada, where his parents were married in 1866… For legal reasons, Winsor McCay drew Dream of the Rarebit Fiend under the pen name of “Silas”… According to Wikipedia, “He was originally named Zenas Winsor McKay, in honor of his father’s employer, Zenas G. Winsor. He later dropped the name Zenas”… Google created a Google Doodle, titled “Little Nemo in Google-Land,” which ran on October 15, 2012 — the 107th anniversary of the launch of Little Nemo in Slumberland in 1905.

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