I’m reading a book I got from the Santa Monica Library (more like skimming it before bed) about the life of Winsor McCay: Winsor McCay: His Life And Art. It’s a stunning collection (which you can find at Amazon here). To be honest, I’ve always known of Winsor McCary, but didn’t really know much about him. Suffice to say, I’ll be doing my research, as I feel as if I’ve unearthed a treasure trove of amazing illustration and storytelling.
Just a quick scan through the book underlines a few points: McCay was a designer/illustrator on par with William Morris and Aubrey Beardsley; McCay worked tirelessly throughout his life; and McCay did things with a comic strip that transcended the genre. There’s a great quote from McCay in the book (and I paraphrase): “Animation should be an art form, not a trade (italics mine).”
I also found a great little quote online from Chuck Jones:
It is as though the first creature to emerge from the primeval slime was Albert Einstein; and the second was an amoeba, because after McCay’s animation, it took his followers nearly twenty years to find out how he did it.
Just a quick glance at McCay’s book suggests the influence on Maurice Sendak, Chris Ware, Alan Moore, countless others. Truly a giant in the field. I wholeheartedly suggest the book.