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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author

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Performance, Page 35

Winsor McCay started his career as a newspaper sketch artist, eventually creating wildly successful Sunday cartoon series such as Little Sammy Sneeze (1904-1906), Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (1904-1911, 1913), Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-1914). Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend was so popular that Edwin S. Porter directed a film version of it, Dream of a Rarebit Fiend, in 1906.

A master of perspective and of Art Nouveau detailing, McCay's success as an artist led him to experiment with animation, and he began a wildly successful vaudeville career as a lightning sketch artist in 1906. The influence of his performance as a lightening-sketch artist is evident in McCay's animated films, including Little Nemo (1911), How a Mosquito Operates (1912), and Gertie (1914). 

McCay's Bug Vaudeville (1921), made years after he had stopped performing, sings a swan song to the performing animator himself, as animation developed into a highly rationalized industry in the late 'teens and early twenties.
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