Winsor McCay was an American cartoonist, he first became known for his weekly comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland AKA Land of Wonderful Dreams (1905/1927). McCay revolutionised early animation, his first animation was an adaptation of his already popular comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland (1911). Little Nemo is a beautiful looking animation that was meticulously coloured by hand.
McCay went on to create even more ground breaking animations like How a Mosquito Operates (1912). Perhaps McCay’s most ground breaking animation is Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). Gertie is perhaps the first animated character with a real personality. This was a fundamental development in animation. Gertie was the predecessor to later cartoons, such as the ones developed by Warner Brothers and Walt Disney. Gertie the Dinosaur was also the first film to use key frame animation. Put simply, a key frame is a drawing that defines the beginning and end points of a transition; key frame animation is still used today.
Another great piece of work by McCay is the world war one proper gander piece The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918). This is a massive departure from McCay’s usual light-hearted comedic style; it is very sombre in tone. Arguably The Sinking of the Lusitania is McCay’s greatest technical achievement in terms of animation, the fire and smoke effects are a marvel.