From Comics to Cartoons


Watching Winsor McCay’s animations, Gertie the Dinosaur and How a Mosquito Operate, unless I had been told I wouldn’t have guessed it was done by the same author as Little Nemo in Slumberland. But watching them alone I would have guessed they were done by someone either super interested in writing a comic strip or a previous author. These animations came off to me as ideas someone thought would look better on screen than on paper.

Some of the physical gags and the repeated action sequences worked well enough given the time period as a cartoon but honestly I think I would have preferred to see them on paper. Seeing the mosquito fly his way through panels and into the mans house would have opened up some possibilities that the limited animation techniques of his time. The dastardly mosquito following his unsuspecting prey across a few panels and then slipping through the window, the kind of things a comic strip could have done stylistically! Add more to the scenery and even to the main characters.

I’m sure the case can be made for any movie/cartoon then, “well just put it on paper and you can do whatever you can do with a pen!” That I’m not trying to say but in this case, given the basic story line and character, a “SLAP” as the man hits his face instead of the mosquito or seeing the sound of his wings flying around (not sure what sound a mosquitos wings make but I would if it were just a small note in a panel).

The animated short is quite creepy and fascinating to watch but the comic hints I see throughout it make me truly think that as a written out on paper comic strip would have helped this particular story but I don’t think I feel the same way about a lot of other cartoons/animations I’ve read or other comics for that matter! I could wonder about each one until I’m blue in the face but I do think its an interesting question to raise, perks to a comic format or animated one?

  2 comments for “From Comics to Cartoons

  1. dtarkent
    September 7, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    It’s always a possibility that these ideas were constructed by thinking “yes this will look much better animated and drawn.” But you also have to think about some of the backstory to them. Gertie was a bet that McCay could make a moving picture through drawing, so there is a possibility that Gertie never even was thought to have been a comic in itself. If McCay had been able to take the time and flesh out Gertie into a graphic novel (with story and more characters) rather than a possible Vaudeville show, then perhaps it could have worked as a stand alone comic!

  2. September 27, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    For what it’s worth, McCay did do this idea first as a comic:

    I do see what you’re saying, amille22, about the greater possibilities a comic could afford, but in this case, I think the animation is much better. It’s just a lot creepier without the running commentary from the mosquito.

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