Sunday, June 29, 2008

May Ann Licudine

A treat for the eyes! May Ann Licudine from the Philippines creates BEAUTIFUL images and is very open about her love for and inspiration by Winsor McCay. Her site has several tributes...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Comic Strip Library

Here is an AMAZING resource! Over at The Comic Strip Library, Zachary Chavez has been creating a digital library of comic strips now in the public domain. Right now it looks like he's got just about every episode of George Harriman's Krazy Kat, and he is currently working his way through getting all of McCay's Little Nemo uploaded. Here's the episode of Little Nemo in Slumberland, published exactly 100 years ago tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Studio Ghibli's Nemo pitch

In the last post I reviewed "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland" which was ultimately released in into US theaters in 1992. However, at one point earlier in its development many people from Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, My Friend Totoro) had been involved with the project. In 1984 they produced this ELABORATE test pilot. Unfortunately all these folks eventually left the movie, and the film that was released never lived up to the wonder and potential of this amazing pilot. Ahh, what could have been...

Think about the timing in historical context too... if this original crew would have continued on, their movie could have been competing with films like "Black Cauldron" and "Great Mouse Detective." Instead, the actual inferior movie came out years later between "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin" (...probably another reason no one remembers it).

You can read more about the production of this clip at Conversations On Ghibli and at Cartoon Brew.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Adventures in Slumberland

So I finally saw the "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland" movie yesterday. (This is the 1992 movie and not to be confused with Winsor McCay's first pioneering animated film "Little Nemo" from 1911). I had always been hesitant to see this movie adaption of McCay's comic series, but it was actually better than I had been expecting. My kids enjoyed it. Most of my fun came from watching for all the things that actually came from McCay's comic... usually the movie just kind of randomly strings them together instead of working them into the plot. Befuddle Hall, the twisty stairs, the car with the goat wheels and frog horn, giant butterflies, the walking bed... all there. The gratuitous flying squirrel sidekick was just that - gratuitous. But he didn't hurt anything. The best part of the film was the Nightmare Goo that grabs Morpheus. Great animation there.

As the credits rolled I was surprised to recognize a lot of names! Chris Columbus, Jean Moebius Giraud, Brain Froud, Ray Bradbury, Canemaker, Richard M and Robert B Sherman -- even Frank and Ollie are listed in there as consultants.

Although entertaining enough for kids, ultimately the story doesn't hold together well. The end battle scene is anticlimactic and unintelligible.

I read these comments from Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles) a little while ago: "Jerry Rees and I also worked on [Adventures in Slumberland] for about a month. We were sent down because we were told the project was drifting and were asked to check it out and give our assessment... We were staggered at the quality of the artwork on the walls... AMAZING stuff. We were floating around, talking to people casually, asking them about what they were doing, and they said 'we’re just illustrating what Ray Bradbury is writing'... We asked Bradbury about the story he was writing for the film. “I’m just putting in writing what these wonderful artists are drawing”, he said. Jerry and I looked at each other; 'Uh-ohhh'."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

For Inspiration

See Dreams and Obsessions on Shelf and Screen, in which Huib van Opstal gives an analysis of the groundbreaking innovations made over a century ago in Winsor McCay's series ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’. It's a commentary on the fantastic collection put out by Ulrich Merkl. (Spring Lake Library does have two copies now by the way. It's a Great book. It's massive... solid... it's like holding a brick)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Celebrity Pop Star

The Grand Haven Tribune had a nice article about McCay Day. Below are some excerpts I found very cool -- apparently our efforts to get McCay recognized in Spring Lake are working! Had no idea a second grade teacher was onboard and introducing kids to McCay! Read on:
More than 50 youngsters gathered Tuesday morning at Spring Lake District Library for the cartooning workshop, which featured McCay history and art lessons by longtime McCay fan and Tribune graphic artist Kevin Collier.

Children who were not involved in the standing-room-only event stumbled upon the library's McCay display and books as if he was a celebrity pop star.

"Winsor McCay is awesome," said Gray, 8, who will be a third-grader next year. "Our teacher taught us about him. I know all about "Gertie." I like how he makes his pictures pop out. He's a really great artist."

Rachel said she couldn't wait until the McCay books are off the library's display and available for checking out. "I looked at the author (on display) and said, 'Oh, my gosh, this is Winsor McCay stuff,'" she said. "We learned about him in school."

"I've waited 18 years for this," said Collier, who joined a local Winsor McCay recognition committee about a year ago and has been teaching cartooning in schools for almost three decades. "It's nice to see the recognition for Winsor McCay. I've been telling the story over and over again. He was raised right here."
You can read the whole article here: SL Heritage Festival kicks off by honoring animation pioneer

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

McCay Day 2008! (Part One)

McCay Day has arrived! All 3 events at the Spring Lake District Library drew big crowds, and everyone had a Great time. Today kicked off with tons of fun for Preschoolers as they were introduced to Winsor McCay's Gertie. Here are Gertie shaped Dino-Buddies and cookies waiting for the kids to arrive:

And someone was going to win this GIANT layered Gertie Cookie!

Let the Buddy stuffing begin!

Decorating those cookies...

Happy buddies with their Buddies...

Winners of the GIANT cookie:

Then it was time to decorate that super 10 foot Gertie...

Here's the finished product!

Thanks to the library for all the great work that went into this -- and thanks to you Spring Lake for coming!

McCay Day 2008! (Part Two)

Today's afternoon session focused on Winsor McCay's cartooning legacy. It was another full house, with folks standing in the back. Local illustrator Kevin Collier spent the session's first half introducing the audience to Little Nemo, Sammy Sneeze, and the Rarebit crew. He talked about Winsor's early drawings, made while he was a kid here in Spring Lake.

Kevin spent the second half leading everyone in a cartooning workshop, sharing hints, tips, and tricks of the trade...

Surprise, surprise... there was another giant cookie to give away!

There was also a special awards ceremony for the talented kids from Spring Lake Intermediate School. All the McCay inspired artwork that has been on display at the library was judged, and prizes were awarded for what were deemed the top three pieces of art.

They received cool Little Nemo themed art supplies from Eeboo. Kyle shows us his great cartoon and his loot!

Thanks to SLDL and to Kevin Collier for the great afternoon!

McCay Day 2008! (Part Three)

The final McCay Day event was a Movie Night, complete with popcorn and drinks. A full room listened as librarian Chris Davies gave a great biographical talk, walking us through McCay's life and work. Then we watched a documentary on McCay followed by his movies "Little Nemo," "Gertie the Dinosaur," "How a Mosquito Operates," and "The Sinking of the Lusitania."

I've seen these films a number of times myself, but never with an audience. What a great experience it was! More than half the room was under 10, so I was really worried about how they would receive these nearly 100-year old films. After all, these kids have grown up on cartoons -- flashier, faster paced cartoons, with color and sound what's more. But the audience had a blast! As Nemo began stretching and shrinking Flip and Imp, the room filled with laughter! That came as a surprise to me, but I was delighted! Everyone roared as Gertie flung "Jumbo" into the lake. There were squeamish groans every time the Mosquito made another stab. And when the Mosquito film finished with a bang, everyone broke out into applause! It was truly wonderful to see how timeless these movies are. It speaks to McCay's genius, his brilliant comedic timing, and his ability to infuse his characters with Life... these are things audiences will always respond to.

I think it's great that a room full of kids got to watch Winsor McCay's films while sitting over the very geographic location where Winsor himself ran around as a little kid all those years ago.

Thanks for a great day to everyone involved! Can't wait for McCay Day 2009! See you there!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Last month Spring Lake Intermediate students learned about Spring Lake native Winsor McCay in their art classes. Mrs. Moynihan's 6th grade class looked at this Little Nemo illustration for inspiration and then created their own fantastic Racers in the Sky. All their artwork has been on display at the Spring Lake District Library. It will stay there through Spring Lake's Heritage Festival next week (including McCay Day - June 17!) Stop in to see all the great racers - there are lots more... Here is a sampling of their super work:

Friday, June 13, 2008


Mr. Zuelke's 5th grade art class also studied McCay's classic "Little Nemo in Slumberland." The class then created their own cartoon adventures. All their hard work is also being displayed at the Spring Lake District Library. There are about 30 cartoons altogether, so those shared blow are just a sampling. Be sure to stop in and see all the originals... (my digital camera wasn't the best method to capture these!) Great work guys!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Great Gertie!

Stop by the Spring Lake District Library with your kids on McCay Day, June 17, and help us decorate and color this giant 10 foot tall Gertie!