Monday, December 15, 2008

Gertie makes her mark

The Spring Lake District Library in Spring Lake Michigan, Winsor McCay's hometown, recently held their annual bookmark making contest for elementary age students. This year kids were encouraged to create a bookmark featuring Gertie the Dinosaur. There were HUNDREDS of great submissions! Lots of budding artists reside in McCay's hometown. Here are a few favorites:


I was just playing around with Wordle... I plugged in some text from Meeting McCay and got this thing of beauty:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Alongside Winsor McCay, another of my favorite illustrators is Adam Rex. While perusing his book Pssst, I thought I sensed a McCay vibe in his drawings. Today I stumbled across further evidence that he is indeed a McCay fan of some sort -- he's got a cat named Little Nemo. Which is Great! Because now I have an excuse to celebrate some of Adam's work here on our McCay-themed blog...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Petit Lucien

Hmmm... Could it be that Little Nemo was inspired by an obscure comic episode published 20 years earlier in France? Interesting comparisons at Topfferiana (or click here for mangled English via babelfish)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Drop on the deck and flop like a fish...

On his blog, Roger Langridge shares some SpongeBob cartoons he did for Nickelodeon Magazine in the style of old-time comics, including this one in the style of Winsor McCay...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

the location of Winsor McCay's childhood home

We've sure learned a lot since we started meeting a year ago. Here's a blurb from one of the very first posts on this blog:
Years ago I had asked someone at the Tri-Cities Museum if there was any way to know where McCay might have lived -- or even to determine a geographic location where we could say he had definitely been. She said she highly doubted it because the layout of Spring Lake is very different now because so many fires had destroyed the town since McCay's time. The fires had also destroyed most records from those days.
That post then went on to relay how excited we were to discover the site of McCay's former school... A plot of land right next door to the current site of the Spring Lake District Library:

Well since that early post, we've discovered the location of Winsor McCay's childhood home! Little did we know we were already looking at it... It was right here:

Turns out the site is right across the street, on the corner of Meridian and Tolford, in the spot where the First Baptist Church building now stands.

Here's some information about the site that librarian Chris Davis has pulled together:
Robert McKay, Winsor McCay’s father, came to Spring Lake to work in 1864 or ’65. Our collection of Assessment Rolls dates back to 1874. By that time, the McKay’s (McCay’s) owned a house at the corner of the current Tolford and Meridian Street. We do not know the date of the fire mentioned in Winsor's biography, but the McKay’s (McCay’s) owned that property throughout their life in Spring Lake. It would be logical to think that their house burned in one of the frequent fires, as Spring Lake had numerous sawmills at that time. They probably would’ve stayed with friends, temporarily, until their home was rebuilt. The house is gone by 1899, likely destroyed in the Spring Lake Fire of 1893.

Most written accounts tend to paint the McKays (McCays) as a rather transient family in Spring Lake. This is, apparently, not the case. Actually, Robert McKay was a land owner, near the center of the village (which was a status symbol in those times). He was well respected, as his service on the Village Council would attest. In 1874, he received 157 votes for Trustee, only about 90 less than the Village Recorder, who ran unopposed. Many of the people in political circles, at that time, are still known in the community today (Hunter Savidge, Aloys Bilz, etc.).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kid Lit

So yesterday I was looking through Brian Lies' brand new children's book "Bats at the Library" and - surprise, surprise - saw this great Little Nemo/Rarebit reference:

Winsor McCay is an illustrator's illustrator. And I suspect children's book creators in particular love him. "Bats at the Library" is just the latest to pay homage to the man. William Joyce acknowledges Little Nemo in the dedication area of "Santa Calls," a book which includes this image of a galloping bed:

And of course I've already talked about Maurice Sendak in an earlier post... you can find all sorts of references to Nemo in "In the Night Kitchen":

So here are three kid lit examples... Who else am I missing? Does anyone know of any more Little Nemo tributes hiding in the pages of children's books? I'm sure they're out there...

Monday, August 25, 2008

20 Minute Loop

I'm loving the sound of "Winsor McCay" by the band 20 Minute Loop. The song is a tribute to an artist friend of theirs who died of cancer. In a backwards way, it also tributes McCay himself, if I can assume in their minds he was the ultimate artist to reference... Listen to it here...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Here's a funny parody of McCay's film "Gertie the Dinosaur!"
Bryan Brinkman, Dan Pinto, and Matt Gaston of Uber Street Studios bring us the misadventures of "Gordy."
(It's funny, but gross... Funny and gross? Funny because it's gross? Just a warning...)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Volume 2 Times 2

A heads up on two new collections of Little Nemo comics coming out this month - both of them sequels to fabulous first volumes...

"Many More Splendid Sundays" is a best-of collection, reprinting another 115 digitally-restored Sunday pages at their original size: 16 x 21 inches... huge! Volume One, "So Many Splendid Sundays" truly is astounding (you can see my previous report). It's no wonder Volume One's first printing sold out in just 90 days. I can't wait to come across this sequel... Visit Sunday Press for more details.

The other book being released is "Little Nemo in the Land of Wonderful Dreams." It's the second half to the complete collection of Little Nemo comics. Checker Publishing's Volume One is my favorite of the full Nemo collection's I've seen. Visit Checker's site for more details too...

Friday, August 1, 2008

King Nemo

Marcus Thiele has a cool pitch for a comic book called "King Nemo."
Here's his synopsis:
This story imagines the later lives of characters first introduced in Winsor McCay's "Little Nemo" comic strip, which became public domain in 2005. As such, it is intended as a respectful homage to that great creator and his lasting impact on the history of comics, animation and the literature of dreams.
Love it! Check out three sample pages Here...

Monday, July 28, 2008


"Meeting McCay" has quite a few posts under its belt now... So I thought I'd take a second, back up, and provide an overview of what we're doing here and where we hope to go.

Late last year a small group of Spring Lake residents met to discuss fellow Spring Laker, Winsor McCay, and the disturbing lack of recognition here in his hometown. We brainstormed fabulous ways to mark his time spent here, but quickly realized our first step was going to have to be Education. Before a town can applaud a man, they have to know who he is. And very few people in Spring Lake had ever heard of Winsor McCay. So we came up with five steps to reintroduce Spring Lake to its most famous unknown son.

Step One: Start a good collection of McCay resources at the Spring Lake District Library
And boy, they've done that. When we first started meeting, the library had maybe two books on McCay and one DVD. In just a year they've amassed a Super collection of resources. And they are prominently displayed in their own special area. I try to review many of these resources here on the site as they come in.

Step Two: Start this blog
This is the 60th entry so far. Hopefully "Meeting McCay" can be a one-stop-spot for anyone seeking information on McCay - his life, his art, and they many ways he's been honored over the years. And it's intended to be place (for anyone who is interested) to keep up-to-date on the progress we're making in Spring Lake MI to create a permanent, physical, tribute to the man and his legacy.

Step Three:
Launch "McCay Day"

The first McCay Day was held in Spring Lake last month, and it was a great success! (You can read about it in posts below...) We hope to make McCay Day an annual event. This last year was a learning experience, and we hope to make the event bigger, grander, and farther-reaching year by year.

Step Four: Post a Historical Marker
In less than a year, we've accomplished steps 1 through 3. Step four, a Marker, is our current focus. Right now there is Nothing physically acknowledging McCay's presence in Spring Lake. Not a plaque, not a sign, not a name on a bench. We'd like to get a big historical marker, with good biographical content, and place it near the location of his childhood home or school. We're looking at our choices, examining costs, and weighing all the options. This is a huge next step.

Step Five: A Permanent Physical Memorial
This is the ultimate goal. We've talked about lots of ways to pay tribute to McCay in his hometown. Here are a few of the many things we've discussed:
• Name a park after him
• Name a street after him
• Start a McCay Art Scholarship for local students
• Hold an annual Film Festival
• Sprinkle bronze Dinosaur Footprints around town with McCay content
• Start a collection of original McCay art
• Start a Tribute Gallery of art by other professionals inspired by McCay
• Build a Statue
All these are good ideas, and we hope to do as many of them as we can. But I think our hearts are set on the Statue most of all. A statue of McCay... or of Gertie... or of Little Nemo characters... or all of them mingled together. A statue to be placed either in an existing park, or a new park designed specifically for this. We're dreaming big.

Illustrator Aaron Zenz whipped up this concept drawing for us, and I think it's a good place to start. I won't repeat in this post what I've already said before, so you can read more about the statue ideas here. But that's what the Big Goal is. That's our Rarebit Dream. It'll be expensive, and take lots of planning and fund raising. But I think McCay deserves a monument Somewhere in the world. And why not here in his hometown?

So Reader, what do you make of all this? Is McCay and his work worthy of a physical Tribute? Feel free to throw your thoughts into the comments area...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2008 Winsor McCay Award Winners

One way that McCay's animation legacy is honored is the annual bestowing of ASIFA-Hollywood's Winsor McCay Award. It "stands as one of the highest honors given to an individual in the animation industry in recognition for career contributions to the art of animation." It has been given out since 1972 and recipients of the honor include people like Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, both Hanna & Barbera, and Hayao Miyazaki.

The 2008 Winsor McCay Award winners were announced last night at Comic Con. The three newest folks to join an amazing list of recipients are:

John Lasseter (Toy Story)

Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit)

and Mike Judge (King of the Hill)

For full information, check out the announcement here...

A Bed Likes to Get Out Once in a While

Here is what is probably the most famous of all of Winsor McCay's cartoons, published exactly 100 years ago today...

(Thanks goes out to the Comic Strip Library!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Winsor McCay's first recorded picture

I've long known about Winsor McCay's childhood/schoolhouse drawing of the sinking ship... Well apparently the Tri-Cities Historical Museum has a copy!

I was looking through David Seibold's new book on the history of Grand Haven MI, In the Path of Destiny, and was amazed to see this included in the section about Winsor McCay:
"Spring Lake's Great fire of 1893 destroyed the school and all the records which might have revealed some of the genius of the budding artist. But perhaps all was not lost. On October 15, 1880 the ill-fated Goodrich steamship Alpena left Grand Haven bound for Chicago with 46 persons aboard. It was never seen again. The event stunned everyone in the Grand Haven Area. In 1880, at age 11, Winsor McCay made a chalk drawing on a slate of his impression of the Alpena as it was sinking on a story Lake Michigan. The teacher was so impressed with the rendering she had a photographer take a picture of it, who then sold copies. A postcard appeared at that time which showed the sinking of the Alpena and, presumably, was the photo of the Winsor McCay drawing. A copy is in the Museum files."
I've never seen this photo reprinted anywhere else before... What a great find! The photo dates from the right time and is certainly white chalk on black slate. This whole story is especially interesting when one considers McCay's later animated masterpiece which depicted the sinking of the Lusitania. Perhaps the creation of that film was spurred, in part, by the emotional connection to this first moment of artistic celebrity from his childhood...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Slumberland Titles!

It has always astounded me how someone with drafting skill like this:

...could fill dialog balloons like this:

Wha...? Clearly Winsor McCay was a master draftsman. And certainly the wonder of his comics is in the art, not the writing. But even though the the content of the dialog is inconsequential, still it seems he would have taken care with its visual presentation, yes? Perhaps the blight of his word balloons serves a purpose -- making the art all the more astounding by contrast?? Naw, there's no defense. They stink.

Anyway, it's not that he couldn't do lettering well. After all, he had a career as a poster designer for a while. And his title panels show exquisite lettering. So... to celebrate the fact that McCay COULD do excellent lettering when he put his mind to it, I've put together a collection - just a mere handful - of his gorgeous and varied title panels... Enjoy!