Little Nemo by Winsor McCay
'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (28 April 1907).

Winsor McCay is one of the founding fathers of newspaper comics and animated cartoons. An extraordinary artist, his vivid and technically complex drawings are still impressive today. As a comic artist, McCay made several series featuring dreams or nightmares. He devoted large colorful drawings to these fantasy sequences, which appeared on full pages in Sunday newspaper supplements. Out of all his comics, 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' (1904-1911, 1913) and 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (1905-1914) are his best known works. His inventive use of framing and lay-out was decades ahead of its time. As an animator, he adapted his own comics into short films, with equally sophisticated brilliance. 'Gertie the Dinosaur' (1914) and 'The Sinking of the Lusitania' (1917) are two examples of McCay's innovative animation. He pioneered the "inbetweening" technique, and his work was noted for the realistic movement of his characters. McCay showed the creative possibilities of both comics and animation, and has been influential in the work of countless visual artists. Together with Wilhelm Busch, Lyonel Feininger and George Herriman, he is one of the most influential comic pioneers.

Political cartoon by Winsor McCay
'His Best Customer' (editorial cartoon, 21 February 1917).

Early life 
Zenas Winsor McCay was born in 1869 in Spring Lake, Michigan. His father was a retail grocer, notary public and real estate owner. Winsor McCay never completed grade school, but received early art instruction from one of his teachers. From an early age, he enjoyed drawing, and impressed spectators with his eye for detail and talent for creating images from memory. He was also an avid reader, particularly enjoying the Bible, William Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats and Percy Shelley. At age 17, McCay went to Chicago for more art lessons and started designing posters and advertisements for the Kohl & Middleton Dime Museum and Philip Morton's printing and lithography company. Five years later, McCay moved to Cincinnati, where in 1897, he started his career as a newspaper cartoonist, first for the Cincinnati Times-Star, followed by the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, and eventually ending up at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Early comic career
In the Cincinnati Enquirer, McCay created his first Sunday color feature, 'A Tale of the Jungle Imps by Felix Fiddle' (1903). Based on a series of poems written by George Randolph Chester, the comic ran for 43 episodes between 11 January and 9 November 1903. Before the final two installments were published, McCay had already moved to New York City. Once there, he joined The New York Evening Telegram and Life Magazine, drawing cartoons and other illustration work under the pseudonym "Silas". In 1904, he created several short-lived daily comics: 'Mr. Goodenough' (21 January to 4 March 1904), and two one-shots, 'Sister's Little Sister's Beau' (24 April 1904) and 'Phurious Phinish of Phoolish Philipe's Phunny Phrolics' (28 May 1904). The artwork of these early graphic experiments were already impressive in their rendering. McCay was famous for being a fast cartoonist, who could draw any object with amazing accuracy. Much of his visual style was inspired by the Art Nouveau movement. McCay spent the rest of the decade working extensively for both the New York Evening Telegram and the New York Herald, newspapers published by James Gordon Bennett.

Little Sammy Sneeze by Winsor McCay
'Little Sammy Sneeze' (9 November 1904).

Little Sammy Sneeze
On 24 July 1904, 'Little Sammy Sneeze' debuted in the New York Herald. Every episode revolves around a little boy with the annoying tendency to sneeze loudly at an inappropriate moment. People in his vicinity panic, fragile objects shatter and even the heaviest people, animals or objects suddenly disappear in the air. Sammy's sneezing power is so tremendous that windows break, buildings collapse and elephants are catapulted away. In one memorable gag, Sammy sneezes, breaking the panels of his comic strip into pieces. Most episodes end with him being sent away, often with a kick in the backside. 'Little Sammy Sneeze' is the first comic strip where McCay's graphic and narrative skills are perfectly balanced. Sammy's sneeze always takes place in the penultimate panel, but from the start we see the boy's nose gradually twitching, building up to the "KAW… CHOW!" punchline. In the early days of the medium, running gag newspaper comics were fairly common, but McCay's masterful craftsmanship enhanced the quality of the repetitive material. His attention to detail and dynamic portrayal of movement made the exaggerated situations funnier and more believable. 'Little Sammy Sneeze' was the artist's first successful comic strip, lasting more than two years, and was his first comic to be translated abroad. In France, it enjoyed popularity as 'Petit Sammy Éternue'. Little Sammy sneezed for the last time on 9 December 1906.

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend
'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend'. 

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend
The idea for McCay's longest-running comic series, 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' (1904-1911, 1913), came about after McCay drew a comic strip about a cigarette addict who finds himself stuck on the North Pole, only to discover it was just a nightmare. McCay's editor liked the idea of a comic strip featuring dream sequences, and requested McCay to create one. The first installment of 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' was published on 10 September 1904 in the New York Evening Telegram. Every episode follows the same pattern: somebody has a weird dream, which eventually turns into a nightmare until they awaken in the final panel, or "waking frame". In each strip, a different character suffers from a nightmare. Some are asleep at night, others daydream behind their desk or doze off in public. Some dreams are played for laughs. In one episode, a man discovers he and everyone else suddenly have grown antlers. In another gag, a man dreams he is a Mormon in Utah. At first he enjoys having multiple wives, until they all start nagging about money.

Other dreams are more disturbing. In one episode, a man dreams he's being buried alive, made all the more frightening by the fact that everything is shown from the viewpoint of the dreamer looking up at people standing over his grave. In another episode, the Earth starts shrinking, leaving the final man on the planet hanging underneath it by his fingertips. In a gag that McCay later turned into an animated short, 'How A Mosquito Operates' (1912), a man dreams he is sucked dry by a colossal mosquito. Thanks to McCay's artistic skills, even the most fantastic and logic-defying scenes look convincing. 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' ran in the Evening Telegram until 25 June 1911. After that, McCay moved over to the Hearst newspapers, where between 27 June 1911 and 7 May 1912, his dream feature initially ran under titles like 'It Was Only A Dream', 'Midsummer Day Dreams' and 'Dreams of a Lobster Fiend' in Hearst's New York American. Between 19 January and 3 August 1913, 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' was revived in the New York Herald, and again in 1923-1925 under the new title 'Rarebit Reveries'.

The success of McCay's comic strip inspired adaptations in other media. In 1906, 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' was adapted into a live-action film by Edwin S. Porter, director of 'The Great Train Robbery' (1903). Thomas W. Thurban wrote a musical piece, 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' (1907). McCay himself later adapted four of his episodes into animated shorts: 'How a Mosquito Operates' (1912), 'Bug Vaudeville' (1921), 'The Pet' (1921) and 'The Flying House' (1921).

Two earlier newspaper features in the New York Herald preceded, and may have influenced McCay's nightmare-ridden strip: Charles Reese's newspaper comic 'Drowsy Dick's Dime Novel Dream' (6 July through 31 August 1902) and J.B. Lowitz's Sunday strip, 'Swifty and his Wonderful Dreams (6 December 1903 through 22 May 1904). But perhaps the strongest influence on McCays strip was Harle Oren Cummins' 1902 novel 'Welsh Rarebit Tales'. In Cummins' stories, the characters all suffer from bad dreams after having eaten the dish Welsh rarebit. People consuming this heavy meal before bedtime were depicted having a restless sleep. Many of the characters that wake up in McCay's strip, express regret about eating Welsh rarebit before going to bed. Although McCay wasn't the first comic artist to take inspiration from dreams and nightmares, his imagination and superb drawing skills took this concept to a whole new, unparalleled level.

Hungry Henrietta, by Winsor McCay 1905
'Hungry Henrietta' (1905).

The Story of Hungry Henrietta
Despite his heavy workload of daily comic strips and cartoons, Winsor McCay launched three additional comic features over the course of 1905. The first was 'The Story of Hungry Henrietta', which ran in the New York Herald on Sundays between 8 January and 16 July 1905. The comic features a baby that ages progressively in every episode; a rare phenomenon in comics in general, and in 1905 particularly novel. Constantly fed by her parents and family members, Henrietta eats practically everything in her vicinity. It is believed that McCay based Henrietta on his daughter, Marion. Given that the workaholic cartoonist barely had time for his family, the strip may be interpreted as an expression of the cartoonist's guilt. Henrietta was one of the first female protagonists to appear in a comic strip, although she was preceded by Charles Keene's 'Miss Lavinia Brounjones' (1866), Gene Carr's 'Lady Bountiful' (1901) and Grace Drayton's 'Toddles' (1903-1933, later renamed 'Dolly Dimples'). Only a month after Henrietta's debut, Caumery and Émile-Joseph Pinchon's 'Bécassine' - an iconic female star of the early years of comics - first appeared in the Belgian weekly La Semaine de Suzette (2 February, 1905). In 1975, 'Hungry Henrietta' inspired the name of a restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium, which sported a frame from McCay's comic strip in its logo.

Little Nemo by Winsor McCay
'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (26 November 1905).

Little Nemo in Slumberland
A couple of months after concluding 'Hungry Henrietta', Winsor McCay introduced the Sunday readers of the New York Herald to his most iconic creation,  'Little Nemo in Slumberland'. Debuting on 15 October 1905, the Nemo character was inspired by Winsor McCay's son, Bob McCay. Nearly a year earlier, McCay had already featured a little boy called Nemo in the 10 December 1904 episode of 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend'. But while his new comic strip also had a sleeping protagonist who awakes in the final panel, 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' was set in a dream world with a very different feel to it. 'Little Nemo' was intended as a children's series with recurring characters, and following a continuous narrative. Although the early episodes have a stop-and-start format, and still contain nightmarish aspects, within a few months, the tone turned towards fantasy and elaborately detailed dream sequences with the storylines continuing from week to week. As Nemo dreams, he wanders through Slumberland until he finds himself in surreal situations, which he escapes by waking up. Yet the storyline continues in the next episode, always interrupted by him falling out of bed in fear - which became one of the most iconic scenes in comic history. In a memorable sequence, Nemo's bed sprouts legs and walks outside into the starry night. He meets a green, cigar-smoking dwarf in a big hat named Flip. At first he is untrustworthy and often gets Nemo into trouble, but later he becomes a good friend. Another recurring character is Impy, a black African in a grass skirt coming from a cannibal tribe. Impy was similar in design to characters in a previous McCay comic series, 'A Tale of the Jungle Imps by Felix Fiddle' (1903). Nemo eventually visits Slumberland, where King Morpheus has summoned him to become a playmate for his princess daughter. There, he gets caught up in all kinds of epic adventures, including a trip to the moon on an airship.

McCay took full advantage of his Sunday pages. He experimented with color, perspective and even the lay-out of the pages. The panels often change size or shape to complement what happens in the story. A Thanksgiving episode, for instance, has a gigantic turkey devouring Nemo's house. The bird itself is shown as a central image inside a circle to show its monstrosity. Around the circle we see Nemo falling down. 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' is also the earliest example of a comic strip receiving serious attention from critics and being perceived as actual art. In 1905 and 1907-1910 it was performed as a theatrical play. McCay himself adapted 'Little Nemo' into a 1911 animated short. Two attempts have been made to adapt 'Little Nemo' into a feature film, but both met with little commercial success. Arnaud Sélignac's 'Nemo' (1984) starred Harvey Keitel as Flip and changed a lot of the original narrative. Masami Hata and William Hurtz made a 1989 animated feature film, 'Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland' (1989), with contributions by such legends as Moebius and Hayao Miyazaki. The comic furthermore inspired children's storybooks, video games and a 2012 opera. The United States Postal Service honored Little Nemo as part of its 1995 set of Comic Strip Classics postage stamps.

Little Nemo by Winsor McCay
'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (13 September 1908).

Reception of McCay's "dream sequence" comics
'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' and 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' remained McCay's most successful comic series, and captured readers' imagination unlike any other comic strip he had done up to that point. Audiences were swept away by the captivating visuals and mesmerizing, epic tales on a grandiose scale. Both comics followed in the wake of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical books, such as 'Die Traumdeutung' ('Interpretation of Dreams', 1900), which sparked public interest in dreams and their deeper meaning. As such, McCay's comics were considered very topical. Children could relate to the overpowering dream worlds in 'Little Nemo', while 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' delved into more adult fears and sexual undertones. McCay depicted many recognizable nightmares, like walking nude in public, dying, going to Hell, falling to your doom, losing body parts, morphing into something else, being chased or eaten by animals or monsters. Readers of 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' sent in examples of their own dreams, which McCay sometimes adapted into an episode, crediting the reader in the final panel. One of them was the future writer and editor Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967), known for publishing the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories.

Little Nemo by Winsor McCay
'Little Nemo' (23 January, 1910).

A Pilgrim's Progress by Mister Bunion
Also in 1905, Winsor McCay created an additional weekday comic for The New York Evening Telegram. Between 26 June 1905 and 4 May 1909 (with a four month hiatus in 1906), the paper ran his 'A Pilgrim's Progress by Mister Bunion' (1905-1909), a feature inspired by John Bunyan's classic novel 'The Pilgrim's Progress' (1678). McCay had a different take on Bunyan's story, which was an allegory of a Christian who travels with a package called "Sin" to a place of salvation. In McCay's comic, a character named Mr. Bunion carries a bag with the name "Dull Care", and seeks to find a street named "Glad Avenue". The running gag is that although he always tries to get rid of this bag of metaphorical problems, it always finds its way back to him. Beyond McCay's top notch artwork, what makes this comic interesting is the deep philosophical and humanistic edge, which transcends the typical slapstick formulas of most other newspaper comics of that time. The strip is also notable for featuring one of the first instances of a celebrity cameo, when Bunion dreams of assisting U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

Transition from Bennett to Hearst
Also appearing in the New York Evening Telegram was the weekly McCay strip 'Poor Jake' (1909-1911), starring a laborer being exploited by an emotionless Colonel and his wife. The strip is often interpreted as a reflection by McCay on his own profession, in regard to all the money others made off his creations. Around the same period, he allegedly drew a couple of episodes of the 'Buster Brown' comic for the New York Herald, replacing Richard F. Outcault, who had left for the Hearst paper New York American in 1906. By 1911, Winsor McCay got a lucrative offer from newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst too, and transferred to the New York American as well. Through the International News Service, his comics also appeared in other Hearst newspapers. He revived several of his existing features, with 'Little Nemo' appearing as 'In the Land of Wonderful Dreams' (1911-1924), 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend' as 'It Was Only A Dream' (1911-1912) and 'Poor Jake' as 'Mister Bosch - Oh! He's A Busy Guy' (30 May-20 November 1912). Over the course of 1912, he invented a great many weekday comic strips that appeared irregularly in Hearst newspapers, but none lasted more than a couple of months. Among them were 'And Then - Kerchoo - He Sneezed', 'The Faithful Employee', 'Everyone Has Met That Well-Known Character Mister Duck', 'Everybody's Got An Axe To Grind', 'He Meant Well', 'I Should Worry', 'Little Sweetheart', 'The Man From Montclair' and 'A Perfect Gentleman'. According to John Canemaker's 'Winsor McCay: His Life and Art', the cartoonist had a virulent attitude toward marital hypocrisy and a rueful sorrow for his bachelor freedom, which inspired short-lived 1912 features like 'Ain't you glad you're not a Mormon?', 'It's Nice To Be Married', 'Nobody Cares For Father' and 'Dear Dad And His Daughter'.

Little Nemo by Winsor McCay
'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (3 December 1905).

In the Land of Wonderful Dreams
Winsor McCay's main work at the New York American was however continuing 'Little Nemo'. He won a lawsuit with his previous employer that allowed him to continue using the characters from his Nemo strip, but under a different title: 'In the Land of Wonderful Dreams'. The first episode debuted on 3 September 1911, and ran weekly until 26 December 1914. Although McCay's art grew ever more elaborate, much of his inventiveness in this reboot of 'Little Nemo' was diminished. When McCay's contract with Hearst expired in 1924, he quickly went back to the Herald to have one last crack at 'Little Nemo', which ran until it was canceled on 26 December 1926. McCay then did press illustrations for the Hearst papers until his death in 1934. In the late 1930s and 1940s, McCay's son Robert tried to revive 'Little Nemo' through the Harry "A" Chesler Shop and as comic books, but with little success.

Animation career
Winsor McCay was also a pioneer of animated cartoons. In 1906, he performed as a vaudeville entertainer, drawing sequential sketches on a chalkboard in front of a live audience. In 1911, he started making animated shorts: 'Little Nemo' (1911), 'How a Mosquito Operates' (1912), 'Bug Vaudeville' (1921), 'The Pet' (1921) and 'The Flying House' (1921). All five were adaptations of episodes of 'Little Nemo' and 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend'. According to a story depicted in the live action prologue of the 'Little Nemo' short, McCay's career in animation was the result of a bet with cartoonist George McManus and others, who wagered he couldn't produce enough line drawings to sustain a four or five minute theatrical short. While Winsor McCay was not the first professional animator in history (he was preceded by John Stuart Blackton and Émile Cohl), his work in the medium was just as groundbreaking as his contributions for the comics genre. His animation was technically skilled with great accuracy in depicting anatomy, perspective and continuity. McCay used fully rendered characters to move smoothly and realistically. Some members of the audience were skeptical that McCay's work was all hand drawn, thinking he used trick photography with real-life actors.

Gertie the dinosaur
A frame from 'Gertie the Dinosaur' (1914).

Gertie the Dinosaur 
Responding to these skeptical accusations, McCay made 'Gertie the Dinosaur' (1914), in which he used a character that couldn't be found in real life, a brontosaurus. A landmark in animation, 'Gertie the Dinosaur' was the first cartoon with detailed backgrounds, built around the personality of a character. In the story, Gertie is invited by her keeper to do all kinds of tricks, but she is very unpredictable. Sometimes she is distracted by a passing mammoth, other times she disobeys her master, and at one point she starts to cry. The movie pioneered innovations that are still used in animation today, such as "inbetweening" (drawing images between key poses). Historically, 'Gertie the Dinosaur' is also significant as the first dinosaur film and the oldest surviving animated cartoon to star a female character.

The Sinking of the Lusitania
Another major work by McCay was 'The Sinking of the Lusitania' (1917), based on the German bombing of an American ship, that motivated the USA to get involved into the First World War. The animated short was notable for not being based on a humorous fantasy. It depicted the bombing and sinking of the ship, shown in real time. A technical "tour de force", the film is one of the earliest examples of animation specifically aimed at an adult audience. This landmark animation was innovative in its look as well, showing angles that live-action movie cameras at the time couldn't imitate. 

What makes McCay's animations particularly astounding is that he drew almost all of the images in these cartoons himself, by hand (for 'The Sinking of the Lusitania', however, he received assistance from cartoonists John Fitzsimmons and William Apthorp "Ap" Adams). Even today, his sophisticated animations still amaze audiences. Three of his animated films were added to the United States National Film Registry for their "cultural, historical and aesthetic significance": 'Gertie the Dinosaur' in 1991, 'Little Nemo' in 2009 and 'The Sinking of the Lusitania' in 2017.

Personal life
Winsor McCay's private life was troubled. He was married to a demanding wife and his workaholic tendencies left little time for his family. His brother Arthur ended up in a mental asylum, and McCay's son Robert suffered from shell shock after serving in the First World War. Winsor McCay often felt underpaid and belittled by William Randolph Hearst, who forced him to quit doing vaudeville and animation in order to focus on his cartooning work. In 1927, McCay obtained the rights to 'Little Nemo' from The Herald Tribune for a token fee of a dollar. The same year, the cartoonist was honored at a dinner in New York to celebrate his pioneering role in animation, but the drunken veteran began insulting the audience by claiming they had turned the artform into a trade.

It's notable that many of McCay's comics have a melancholic undertone. Many children in his series are sad loners who lack love from adults. Hungry Henrietta stuffs herself with food to compensate. Little Sammy Sneeze is kicked for merely sneezing, and Nemo is often reprimanded by his parents for falling out of his bed at night. 'Dream of a Rarebit Fiend' occasionally provides bitter social commentary on class, marriage or work.

In 1934, Winsor McCay died of a cerebral embolism. Later that decade, a large portion of his original drawings were destroyed in a fire. Much of his original film prints deteriorated as they were photographed on 35mm nitrate film. Luckily, copies are still available.

Little Nemo in Slumberland (29 October 1905)
'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (29 October 1905).

Legacy and influence
Winsor McCay has been a colossal influence on countless artists, and his work can't be overlooked in the history of graphic arts. His enormous productivity and high quality level in the exhaustive daily newspaper comic format still amazes readers and cartoonists today. Already in the 1900s and 1910s, several comic artists imitated his style. Many developed gag comics with imaginative situations, which in the final panel turn out to be "just a dream". Among them were Peter Newell's 'The Naps of Polly Sleephead' (1905-1906), Gene Carr and later William Steinigans' 'Bad Dream That Made Bill A Better Boy' (1905-1911), Marion T. Ross's 'Mamma's Angel Child' (1908-1909), David Bueno de Mesquita's 'De Geschiedenis van Gulzigen Tobias' (1910), Bit's 'The French Nanny's Dream' (1911) and Frank King's 'Bobby Make-Believe' (1915-1919). In later decades, comics based on dreams and nightmares still show McCay's influence, like Erich Schenk's 'Sleeping Lena' (1943-1944) and Max Trell and Neil O'Keeffe's 'Dick's Adventures in Dreamland' (1947-1956). Kim Deitch and Simon Deitch's 'The Boulevard of Broken Dreams' (2002) also makes occasional reference to McCay's comics.

In the Belgian magazine Spirou, Morphée (Philippe Vandooren) and Hermann's 'Nic' (1980-1982) and Makyo's 'Le Roi Rodonnal' (1982) were direct tributes to 'Little Nemo'. In the periods 1994-1995 and 2000-2002, publisher Casterman released an unofficial sequel to 'Little Nemo', written by Jean Giraud and drawn by Bruno Marchand. A US sequel was Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez' 'Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland' (2014). McCay's work has also been the subject of parody. In Richard Thompson's 'Cul de Sac' (2004-2012), a comic-within-a-comic is featured, titled 'Little Neuro'. It stars a boy too lazy to leave his bed. Brian Bolland's 'Little Nympho in Slumberland' (1971) and Vittorio Giardino's 'Little Ego' (1983-1989) are erotic spoofs of McCay's masterpiece. Jean-Philippe Bramanti and Thierry Smolderen made the graphic novel series 'Mac Cay' (2000-2006), inspired by the cartoonist's biography. In 2014 and 2016, the Belgian artist Frank Pé created his own version of 'Little Nemo', mimicking McCay's original almost perfectly. Pé's books were originally released in a luxury edition by Éditions Toth, followed by a 2020 single volume collection by Dupuis. Monte Beauchamp included Winsor McCay in his book 'Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed The World' (Simon & Schuster, 2014), where the cartoonist's life story was adapted in comic strip form by Nicolas Debon.

Self-portrait of a young Winsor McCay.

In the United States, Winsor McCay has been an influence on Tex Avery, Carl Barks, Berkeley Breathed, Clare Briggs, Gene Carr, Bob Clampett, Sally Cruikshank, Robert Crumb, Harry Grant Dart, Walt Disney, Jules Feiffer, Max Fleischer, Peter & Maria Hoey, Chuck Jones, William Joyce, Frank King, Martin Landau, Walter Lantz, Lank Leonard, George McManus, Otto Messmer, Peter Newell, Marion T. Ross, Erich Schenk, Maurice Sendak, Otto Soglow, Art Spiegelman, Ted Stearn, William Steinigans, Paul Terry, Rick Tulka, Rick Veitch, Chris Ware and Bill Watterson. In Europe, his work inspired numerous comic artists as well. In the United Kingdom, McCay counts Alan Moore and John Riordan among his fans. He is admired in the Netherlands by David Bueno de Mesquita, Lae Schäfer, Peter van Straaten, Joost Swarte, Tobias Tak and Wasco. In Belgium, he found followers among Ben Gijsemans, Hergé, Olivier Schrauwen and François Schuiten. A French admirer was Jean Giraud, AKA Moebius. In Italy, 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' was a direct influence on the atmosphere of Federico Fellini's film 'La Città Delle Donne' ('The City of Women', 1980). McCay also had a graphic impact in Sweden (Victor Bergdahl) and Hungary (Nándor Honti). In Spain, Pablo Picasso admired McCay's comics.

The cartoonist and animator's name lives on in the Winsor McCay Award, which are awarded by the International Animated Film Society in Hollywood to individuals with important contributions to the art of animation. Awarded annually since 1972, Winsor McCay posthumously won the 1974 edition, along with Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones and Art Babbitt. In 2009, the Pittsburgh ToonSeum established the NEMO Award, given to notable individuals "for excellence in the cartoon arts". In 2002, an asteroid was named after Winsor McCay. Winsor McCay's spiritual successor in animation might be Bill Plympton, who also is known for making animated cartoons with little to no assistance. Winsor McCay's son Bob McCay was also active as a cartoonist.

Books about Winsor McCay
For those interested in Winsor McCay's life and career, R.C. Harvey's 'The Genius of Winsor McCay' (Ohio State University, 1998), Katherine Roeder's 'Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay' (University Press of Mississippi, 2013) and John Canemaker's 'Winsor McCay: His Life and Art' (Abrams Books, 1987, 2005, 2018, third revised edition) are all highly recommended.

Dream of a Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay
'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend', 1913.

Series and books by Winsor McCay you can order today:


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