J.R. Bray was one of the leading and pioneering animators before World War I. He was the founder of Bray Productions, which was one of the first studios entirely devoted to animation (the Canadian artist Raoul Barré had also founded an animaton studio). Bray began his career in newspaper comics, doing the feature 'Singing Sammy' around 1907. Another comic feature by Bray was 'Mr. O. U. Absentmind'.
He soon evolved to become a pioneer in animated cartoons. His earliest films were released in 1913. He founded his animation studios in 1914. He was accompanied by Paul Terry and Earl Hurd a year later. Together with Hurd, he simplified cartoon animation by using cel animation. With Terry, he released the 'Farmer Al Falfa' cartoons. The studios further employed artists like Carl Anderson and the Fleisher brothers, who became famous for their cartoons of 'Popeye' and 'Betty Boop' years later.
In 1919, the rival International Film Service studio folded and owner William Randolph Hearst licensed Bray to continue the IFS series, leading most of the staff of the former studio to transfer to Bray. The Bray studios folded in the late 1920s, and Bray left the business. The educational/commercial branch of the company, Brayco, made mostly filmstrips from the 1920s until it closed in 1963.