Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Sunday Funnies - Gertie The Wonderfully Trained Dinosaurus!

It's just possible that the greatest comic strip artist of all time was one of the forms earliest practitioners. Windsor McKay was a veritable genius who took the form of the color comic page and transformed it into a lavish wonderland of the imagination. 

His masterpiece is Little Nemo in Slumberland which features the dreams of a young boy who at night does all the impossible things he can imagine and then some. McKay created several successful comic strips in his career and was much desired by newspaper owners who at that time saw comic strips as mainstay vehicle to increased circulation. But McKay was not just a newspaper comic strip artist. 

It turns out he was also one of the earliest animators. In a technique which pre-dated cel animation he produced with excruciating labor the famous cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur which he would show in personal appearances around the country. People were fascinated by the prehistoric creatures which science was discovering , creatures which by their existence challenged many of the preconceived religious notions of the day. And folks were also fascinated by the new science of animation, a technique which took drawn images and impossibly made them move.

Gertie is one of the finest of these early cartoons, and is more impressive when as you watch it realize that every frame has been individually drawn from scratch each and every time. 

Next time dinosaurs invade the comic strips properly. 

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