WINSOR McCAY - His Life and Art New York

Abrams, 2005

Sunday, December 4, 2005
By Stephen Heller

“For a more detailed analysis of one of the most inventive comic artists, the revised and expanded edition of Winsor McCay: His Life and Art (Abrams, $45), by John Canemaker, with a foreword by Maurice Sendak, is must reading.   Canemaker, and animator and scholar, offers a rare glimpse into the life of an artist who in the last century’s second decade was called without exaggeration America’s greatest cartoonist.  In addition to his fabled “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” (an inspiration for Sendak’s own classic “In the Night Kitchen”), McCay created in 1914 the first live stage show with an interactive animated film, “Gertie the Dinosaur.”  This lavish volume includes printed comic pages, as well as a number of McCay’s rarely seen editorial cartoons for the Hearst newspapers, exposing the fools and follies of the 1920s.

November 28, 2005
By Steve Daly

“It’s been roughly a century since McCay unveiled Little Nemo in Slumberland, his gorgeous Sunday newspaper comic.  A tender exegesis of how that strip came to be – and how its success helped McCay make and lose a fortune – forms the emotional center of Canemaker’s superb biography-cum-coffee-table treat.  First published in 1987, the book has been lovingly revised, with two dozen added images.  Coolest bonus: newly unearthed drawings and notes from his pioneering 1914 animated short, Gertie the Dinosaur.  Better still, nearly every picture from the first edition has been scrupulously improved and Nemo pages showing off McCay’s staggering skill at rendering massive cityscapes now glow with original printing details.  In an era when digital art is supplanting handcrafted work, this celebration of a great draftsman feels more relevant and precious than ever.”  Rating: A

December 6, 2005
A Hundred Years in Slumberland: The Comics of Winsor McCay
by Peter Sanderson

“…The other major event for McCay aficionados in 2005 is the newly revised and expanded edition of John Canemaker's Winsor McCay: His Life and Art (Harry N. Abrams, $45), with an introduction by another McCay acolyte, Maurice Sendak. The only biography of McCay, this absorbing book vividly recounts McCay's rise from working at a dime museum to drawing for leading New York papers to even vaudeville stardom, and includes fascinating information ranging from McCay's fateful encounter with W.C. Fields to tantalizing glimpses of Victor Herbert's Little Nemo musical.

Canemaker has a connoisseur's eye for selecting brilliant examples of McCay's art to illustrate this gorgeous book, including not only Nemo, but McCay's other classic strip, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, which visualized the horrific but comedic nightmares of adults. Both an animator and an animation scholar, Canemaker perceptively demonstrates how McCay's talent for capturing motion in sequential panels in his comic strips anticipated his groundbreaking work in animated cartoons.” © John Canemaker 2001, 2003, 2005. All Rights Reserved.