John Canemaker reviews and fully analyzes McCay's achievements in print and film, examining his work in relation to his life, his family, and to American culture and values of the period. Original art from all the McCay's endeavors and rare personal photographs provide a visual counterpart to Canemaker's fascinating text. Begining with McCay's childhood in pioneer-era Michigan, circa 1870, this biography moves on through his earliest attempts to find an artistic voice in Chicago and turn-of-the-century Cincinnati, his work with circus posters, as a quick-sketch newspaper reporter, as a headliner chalk-talk artist in vaudeville, as crown jewel in William Randolph Hearst's grand line-up of newspaper cartoonists, and as the greatest of the early animators. McCay's masterpiece is the epic Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905), a beautiful and surreal fantasy rendered in stunning art nouveau line and subtle yet daring colour, and designed with layouts that anticipate cinematic storytelling techniques.
McCay's ten animated films, among them How a Mosquito Operates (1912) and Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), remain landmarks in the history of this art and were unmatched in the fluid movement and personality of the characters until the mature films of Walt Disney came along two decades later.
John Canemaker is an award-winning independent animator and animation historian. Canemaker has written eight books on animation history, is a regular contributor to The New York Times and lectures internationally. www johncanemaker.com Maurice Sendak has illustrated sixty books by other authors and nineteen books of his own, including his 1964 classic Where the Wild Things Are, winner of the Caldecott medal.