Winsor McCay How a Mosquito Operates Production Drawing #1868 (1912). Artist Winsor McCay is considered the father of all modern day animation. He completed ten animated films between 1911 and 1921; his first short, Little Nemo, consisted of 4,000 individual drawings, and was shown during McCay's vaudeville act. For his second film, McCay actually constructed a story (the first simply had Nemo responding to McCay's commands, with no plot). In How a Mosquito Operates (also known as The Story of a Mosquito), a man's restful night's sleep is continually interrupted by a huge, top hat-wearing mosquito, who enters the room through the transom, and proceeds to drink so much blood that he finally explodes. McCay's Dream of the Rarebit Fiend comic strip from 1909 also explored a similar theme.
    McCay drew each and every complete frame by hand, in ink on rice paper, during December, 1911, and the completed cartoon was shown in January 1912, first as part of his vaudeville act, and later in movie theaters. A now-lost live action prologue was filmed of McCay and his daughter at their summer home in New Jersey, pestered by the huge "Jersey Skeeters" which were often mentioned in comedy acts and magazines of the day. The film was a huge success, virtually launching the entire animation industry. McCay followed this cartoon with his most famous film, Gertie the Dinosaur.
    This ink and graphite drawing, which occurs near the end of the film, as the mosquito's abdomen is swollen and ready to pop, is on 8" x 6" rice paper, mounted to a backing board, which has pin holes in the top corners. McCay has noted in ink, "Beak Too Long" next to the number 1868. The art is remarkably well-preserved for its age, and is in Fine condition. This one-hundred-plus year old treasure is truly a piece of animation history!

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    November, 2013
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