Comic Development – Winsor McCay

I decided to do a comic based on Winsor McCay because he has an interesting life and is a part of animation history, he also had a really cool cartoon and animation style. The brief says that the comic must be influenced by the subject artists own style, so I have decided to do a black and white comic in McCays style, although if i have time and it looks right i will do a colour version as well, because McCays work was often but not always colourful, and he is remembered for these large vibrant comics in newspaper broadsheets, so it would be fitting to include a colour version. Anyway the comic is going to be, as the brief asks, about his rise and demise. Although his demise involves a few words about not being able to really reach his potential as his employers wanted him to be more available for the newspapers and not go gallivanting off doing his sideshow act. The last line being something like “who knows how famous and popular McCay could have been had he explored that possibility more instead of choosing to settle down and live his life in New York.” Something similar to that anyway, there are many reasons he will have chosen to stay in New York, but had he travelled with his act who knows where he would have ended up, certainly a Europe trip was proposed and rejected by his employers. So really its anyone’s guess just how big McCays act could have gotten and whether that would have influenced how many animations he ended up making. He was unhappy with commercialisation of the art-form, which is a big part of probably why he didn’t pursue that side of things, which is sad in a way.

Anyway the comic will start with a backstory up until McCay moves to NewYork. It will feature a little about each important cartoon strip; sammy sneeze, rarebit fiend and little nemo. Then the major animations: little Nemo, mosquito and Gertie, especially the interaction with Gertie the dinosaurus will be focused on in the animation. Maybe the final frame will be McCay riding on the back of Gertie like he does in his animation.


I decided to find some reference images for the comic and i thought i would share them here. These were helpful as reference when drawing ghe characters and their clothing and also the buildings style, etc. They are images from the early 1900’s (1905 mostly i think) from New York (mostly?). Also i found some stuff that was prevalent to McCay like adverts and also vaudeville stuff, because that where he performed and will be mentioned in the comic.

To make sure that i am able to represent McCays style appropriately i have looked at a lot of McCay cartoons, its really easy to just read more and more, there’s just so much available. I am going to first of all be thinking about how things will look in black and white and then moving to colour after. I want to therefore make sure that the black and white will look stunning and good on its own without colour.

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