Monday, April 29, 2013

Don Bluth meets Winsor McCay

This rather unique tribute / crossover piece by Don Bluth honoring Winsor McCay is brilliant. It also happens to have a bit of history behind it. There is no denying that Don Bluth, although some of his later films proved to rather lackluster, contributed a lot to animation. He brought Disney its much needed competition in the 1980s and proved that other companies outside of large studios could create successful films.  Like many other animators and artists, Bluth found much inspiration in the works of Winsor McCay.

McCay was a true pioneer. He started as out as a successful comic strip artist, and become one of the first figures to popularize animation. His art nouveau inspired style and interact attention to detail was simply astounding, and his imagination was boundless. Today he is best remembered for his comic-strip Little Nemo (1905-1927) and the animated short Gertie the Dinosaur (1911).

Notice how the panels grow to emphasize the size of the bed's legs.

Gertie the Dinosaur was drawn single-handedly on rice paper. Each background was traced, as animation cels had not been invented yet (which may explain why McCay only made about ten shorts in his career). 

Despite the tribute image was drawn in 1990, it almost seemed to predict something. In fact, Don Bluth was given the prestigious Winsor McCay Award in 2004 for his lifetime dedication to animation.