A HISTORY OF ANIMATION. MANY scholars write that the history of animation started over 30,000 years ago in the caves of France and Spain where Neanderthals drew running and vaulting animals to suggest “living” motion. Thanks to “Non Sequitur” writer and cartoonist Wiley Miller (who spent his
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A HISTORY OF ANIMATION
MANY scholars write that the history of animation started over 30,000 years ago in the caves of France and Spain where Neanderthals drew running and vaulting animals to suggest “living” motion.
Thanks to “Non Sequitur” writer and
cartoonist Wiley Miller (who spent his
high school years in McClean,Virginia,
and who graduated from Virginia
Commonwealth University), today we
know the true story about Neanderthals
and the history of animation . . .
The history of animation
has also been traced
back to the early- to
mid-1700s when Dutch
scientists and brothers
Pieter and Jan van
the forerunner of the
modern slide projector.
Their creation became
known as the MAGIC
LANTERN, which could
project a series of slides. This is a photo of the
oldest known existing
lantern made around
1720 by Jan van
The wooden case stands on a height adjustable,base. Smoke and heat from the oil burning lampescaped from a tin chimney on top of the body.
A concave mirror and an ingenious lens arrangement projected a image visible up to a distance of ten metres.
IN 1824, Peter Mark Roget published
Persistence of Vision with Regard to Moving Objects, which established four principles of animation:
1. The viewer’s vision must be restricted to one still picture at a time.
2. The eye blurs many images into one image if they are presented in quick succession.
3. A certain minimum speed is required to produce this blurring effect.
4. A large quantity of light is essential to create a convincing image.
In 1829, Belgian artist &
scientist Joseph Plateau
a series of pictures
mounted on a
Major cities of the world offered a
hundred variations of this new “toy,”
with moving pictures of running dogs,
horses, monkeys, fish, and acrobats.
These first animation devices were
called a variety of names from
ANIMATOSCOPE to ZOETROPE.
The PHENAKISTOSCOPE set the stage for the developmentsof the last decade of the nineteenth century: The invention of the camera (attributed to The Edison Company), the invention of film (attributed to Eastman Kodak Company), and the first successful film projection (attributed to the Lumière brothers in 1896).
One early version of “claymation”
using stop-camera produced by the
Thomas Edison Company in 1900
was Fun in a Bakery Shop.
IN 1883 IN NEW
New York World,
giving it a new
flair and style.
began in earnest.
Another New Yorker, William Randolph Hearst bought the Journal, and started to imitate Pulitzer’s style. As competition heated up, Pulitzer sought an edge. In 1893, he bought a four-color rotary press to print famous works of art for his New York World Sunday supplement.
Though the art series was unsuccessful, Pulitzer’s Sunday editor, Morrill Goddard, talked Pulitzer into using the equipment for comic art similar to the work done in Judge, Puck, and Life, the most popular humor magazines of
Goddard hired Richard Outcalt,
a young American comic artist
who created the first comic
series, Down in Hogan’s Alley,
published in 1895. Hogan’s
Alley, as the series came to be
called, attempted to burlesque
current events using a group of
The setting for Hogan’s Alley was
the city slums—squalid tenements
and backyards filled with dogs,
cats, and little tough guys. One of
the street kids was a nameless,
one-toothed, bald-headed boy
dressed in a long, dirty nightshirt,
the front of which was often used
for additional commentary.
At the time, yellow ink
had a tendency to
smudge on newsprint.
To experiment, a press
chose the bald-headed
kid’s nightshirt on
which to try out a
ink. The Yellow Kid
was born, and with
him, some say, the
The Yellow Kid was so popular that the
close association of wild-headlines with
this yellow-shirted character gave rise to
the name “yellow journalism.” Many
credit Outcalt and the comic strip artists
following him as the ones who gave birth
to animated art on film. Indeed, almost all
of the early animators started as comic
strip artist and were even traded from
paper to paper like sports players.
Among the most famous of cartoonists was
Winsor McCay, Max Fleisher, and George
Herriman, the creator of Krazy Kat. Krazy Kat
Goes A-Wooing (1916) and the Krazy Kat film
series was animated by a different artist,
Many historians credit French
animator Emile Cohl with the first
animated film. American animator
and historian John Canemaker
credits J. Stuart Blackton with the
first two animated films:
The Enchanted Drawing, and
Humorous Phases of Funny Faces.
In The Enchanted Drawing
(1900), Blackton, then a
cartoonist for the New York
Evening World, is photographed
in Thomas Edison’s New Jersey
studio, performing a vaudeville
routine knows as the “lightening
sketch,” supplemented by stop
camera tricks that bring the
objects to life.
Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906)
used chalkboard sketches and then cut-outs to
simplify the process. The flickering in the film
was common to the earliest animation and
resulted from the camera operator’s failure to
achieve consistent exposure in manual
Winsor McCay put his newspaper-born Little Nemo
on film in 1911. He gave us the first fluid animation,
drawing on translucent rice paper, and using crude
crossmarks for registration from frame to frame.
After his longtime assistant John A.
Fitzsimmons developed a cel
registration system (a forerunner of
most peg systems used today), McCay
introduced “animation cycles,” the
repeated use of a series of cels. He
used his cycle technique in How a
Mosquito Operates, and the highly
successful Gertie the Dinosaur.
The following fragment from Gertie on Tour
(1921) was done in collaboration with
McCay’s son John and Fitzsimmons. It may
have been released as part of the 1921
Series Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend.
Emile Cohl created the first animated series Phantasmagorie, a simple blackboard technique with stick figures.
SOME MILESTONES IN ANIMATION INCLUDE:
Raoul Barré established the first studio capable of producing animated cartoons in quantity.
Max Fleisher filed for a patent for the Rotoscope, a device that allowed the animator to trace over live-action images
In Pat Sullivan’s
created Felix the
Cat, the hottest
But 1927 brought two things: sound
on film, and the loss of Felix.
Wonderful Felix, who walked and
ran to piano music or whatever the
theatre musicians happened to be
playing, had a short lived career.
Sullivan, who owned him, refused to
believe that Felix needed sound
accompaniment. A new animated
animal star would take Felix’s place.