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Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay (1867?-1934) worked Cincinnatiís Vine Street Dime Museum and Palace Theater from 1891 to 1900.  He then joined the Cincinnati Enquirer as an artist/reporter, and created the comic strip Tales of the Jungle Imps.  McCay moved to New York City in 1903, after which he created several comic strips including Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, Little Sammy Sneeze, and Pilgrim's Progress by Mr. Bunion. His masterwork, Little Nemo in Slumberland, influenced many later cartoonists such as Bill Watterson and Berkley Breathed.  McCay was a pioneer animator with his film Gertie, and many of McCay's comic strips reflect his interest in depicting motion.  He drew editorial illustrations for the Hearst newspapers in the latter part of his career. 


Winsor McCay in 1906


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Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, July 29, 1906.  Woody Gelman Collection.  [AC H4 8]

Nemo enjoyed wonderful dreams that took him to fantastic places in the kingdom of Morpheus.  As his biographer John Canemaker states, this comic strip was "Unlike any comic strip before or since... [I]t represented a major creative leap, far grander in scope, imagination, color, design, and motion experimentation than any previous McCay comic strip (or those of his peers).

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay, February 9, 1913. Woody Gelman Collection.  [AC H5 115] 

Nightmares caused by eating the melted cheese dish Welsh Rarebit are the basis of this inventive comic strip by McCay.  His variations on the theme were endlessly creative, as in this example where a gentleman who is running late swirls in an urban tunnel. 


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Illustration by Winsor McCay for an editorial titled "We Can Be Free Only By Conquering Fear," New York American, February 7, 1915.  Woody Gelman Collection [AC L19 58]


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