ANIME History_04

Is animation art?

Now this is a tricky question, for there are many to ways to even categorize what art is. To me though art is a expression of the self through the use of a physical (or digital) medium. Whether it be through drawing or writing art is the clear expression of person’s thought.

Now does this make animation art? For me it makes animation art, for animation will clearly tell a person a story, and a story starts out as a though or idea from someone’s head.

What animation is to art is a way to express not only an idea through a medium, but many views of that idea in motion. Animation breaths life and soul into frames of a film, it creates pure imagination on the page. Each frame must be carefully thought about and put into a proper succession or else the end result will be a complicated film that cannot communicate with the viewer.

Yet there is still some parts of animation that make me somewhat question if it is art, the fact that some animation was made to suit an industry. I am speaking of the animations that were producted for the sake of being made, the one’s almost formulated to make an end profit. Can one still consider these art? Or are they just another commodity mass produced for the public?

To answer this one must question how well these “factory-line” animation stand up to the test of time. Personally, without this course in animation history I wonder if my own personal love and curiosity towards animation would have led me to view these works, or would I have skipped them to view the greater masterpieces of that time?

For art in the end is always facing the test of time, if the piece truly reflects the thoughts and events of the time, then it will hold meaning and stay as a pillar stone of that time and a part of history.

Animation to me has withstood that test of time and has influenced so much, that I repeat:

Animation is Art.


ANIME History_03

Winsor McCay

He was born on September 26, 1869 and from an early age he was constantly drawing. This impulse to draw was suggested by some online sources ( to be a way of battling his internal drawing demons. Now while looking up McCay I found out that a lot of his surrealist images and subject matter in his comics came from his hobbies as a younger man (17-19), his trips to the circus and vaudeville acts definitely influenced his personal style and topic of art.

Now McCay got his artistic career started in Cincinnati, where he was a “scenic artist” for Philip Morton, this job was to produce posters for the sideshow attraction in Morton’s Dime Museum. From this job he got journalistic gigs making por-democrat political cartoons (what’s strange is that Winsor McCay’s political affiliations were never really know), which ended up getting his work out into the magazine business and soon McCay was invited up to New York to work for Bennett’s Evening Telegram and the New York Herald.

It was in New York where McCay got started on his comic series, though at first he collaborated with Bennett on some series for the Evening Telegram, he eventually started on Little Sammy Sneeze and Hungry Henrietta which were run in the New York Herald.

But the real treasures of Winsor McCay’s comic life were Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo in Slumberland, these two successes lead the way for the rest of Winsor McCay’s career. His career included touring with Vaudeville acts, doing animations (such as Little Nemo, Gertie the Dinosaur, The Sinking of the Lusitania, and The Flying House).

Towards the end of his career Winsor McCay left Bennett for Hearst (1911) where he continued with his Little Nemo in Slumberland series, and also did daily political cartoons and large Sunday drawings. Winsor McCay also worked on some advertising art (anonymously) before his sudden death on July 26, 1934. (Stroke)


For me it’s so interesting to see the effect Winsor McCay’s influences had on him, the many trips to the circus and countless vaudeville acts he went to and participated in all seem to have a direct link to his strips. Whether they were a visual link or a humour-type of link, it’s interesting to see those influences really strike out.



ANIM History_02

What similarities do you see between the early part of the 20th century and modern day?”

It’s almost uncanny how the both the 20th century and modern day are alike. One of the major similarities is the fact that both era’s are/were in the middle of a huge technological upsurge, the 20th century was forming the staple technologies that the modern day is trying to advance even further. Some of these technologies were industrial, such as factories, cars, and others were more entertainment centered, like the invention of film, photographs, and projection devices that allowed film and animations to be played in front of a large audience.

The most astounding similarity to me for both of these era’s is the fact that both had the erge and drive to go forth and create all these new technologies. Neither had any inclination to sit down and stay at the level of technology they were at. In the 20th century people kept pushing cinema and animation technologies further and further, with each director and artist  use what technology was known at the time and yet expanding that technology in order to get the finish product they wanted.

I just hope that our era will not make the same mistake that the 20th century did for animation, I hope that our era will make animation a art, not a trade.