July 26, 2001
3:57 PM   Subscribe

Windsor McKay (of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" fame) and George Herriman (of "Krazy Kat" and "Archie & Mehitabel") weren't just innovative, influential cartoonists; they were also pioneering animators. The Library of Congress' Origins of American Animation project has downloadable short films by McKay (including his celebrated Gertie the Dinosaur) and Herriman as well as others from the early, early days of animated film.
posted by snarkout (7 comments total)
Does it have McKay's animation of the mosquito from hell supping on a sleeping man? That one is enough to make you shriek.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:21 PM on July 26, 2001

Hopefully this project will contribute to the idea that the first and last word in American animation is not "Disney."

Steven: never saw the short you're talking about, but it sounds interesting. It is easily available?
posted by galachef55 at 12:32 AM on July 27, 2001

Winsor, not Windsor. Anyway, those who know my domain name know why I have an interest in this topic. (Note also my username.)

These are wonderful. Just imagine what it must have been like to see animation when it was still so new and strange. I can't even imagine. I doubt my first sight of an animated GIF had the same impact. :)
posted by litlnemo at 5:00 AM on July 27, 2001

I have a laserdisc somewhere of the very early animation done by McKay, which includes film of the Gertie performance, which was done with McKay standing in front of the projection screen and "interacting" with her. It also includes this one about the mosquito, which is about three feet across and has a proboscis about two feet long. It lands on the chest of a sleeping man, sticks it in a good foot and a half (right into the man's nose) and then over the course of a minute or so begins to suck and grows its previously tiny body until it's huge, like maybe five gallons or so. It's really pretty horrifying even now, and it's not really played for laughs (except the ending). I can imagine that when it first came out that it may have caused ladies in the house to scream.

Like the Gertie film, it was done as simple pencil drawings on paper but the animation is very smooth; it's quite mature. Even now it inspires a strong "eewww!" reaction.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:26 AM on July 27, 2001

Sweet Momma. I didn't know that Herriman did Archy and Mehitabel! That's so fucking cool, it kind of breaks my heart.

And Little Nemo in Slumberland remains, to me, the finest use of the genre.
posted by Skot at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2001

Herriman didn't *write* Archy and Mehitabel, he just illustrated it.

For Herriman fans, I strongly recommend the book on him by Patrick O'Connell, who does the very Kat-like comic strip Mutts. Herriman had a very interesting life.
posted by rodii at 6:01 PM on July 27, 2001


It's topics like these that keep me coming to MeFi.

posted by briank at 6:55 PM on July 27, 2001

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