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 (http://www.vegalleries.com/winsorbio.html) 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.