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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 44

Early trick photography/animation reveled in the conceit of seemingly inanimate objects coming to life. A year after he made Dream of Rarebit Fiend, a live film based on the popular McCay comic strip, Edison director Edwin S. Porter made The Teddy Bears (1907), a comic retelling of how President Theodore Roosevelt got his nickname. The short film features a stop-action teddy bear sequence that takes place somewhere beyond a crack in a wall. Like a vaudeville act in the midst of a play, this dancing teddy bear scene is narratively and spatially dislocated from the film’s plot, an animated interlude. 

Even John Randolph Bray, who with his wife Margaret played a key role in rationalizing American animation, opened his first cartoon, The Artist’s Dream (1912-13), with the gag of a sketch coming to life. Indeed, Bray credits the lightning-sketch with getting him into cartoons.
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