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Western Animation / Little Nemo

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Little Nemo is a 1911 short film directed by cartoonist and animation pioneer Winsor McCay.

By 1911 McCay was a veteran cartoonist with newspaper comic strips such as Little Nemo and Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. Meanwhile, a man named J. Stuart Blackton had been making some of the earliest examples of animated films, both in Stop Motion (The Haunted Hotel), and animated drawings (Humorous Phases of Funny Faces). In 1911, the two worked together on an animated adaptation of McCay's Little Nemo comic, producing what might be the first Animated Adaptation of all time.

More than half of the completed film is actually live action. It begins with a scripted sequence in which McCay meets with some of his friends, and bets them that he can make a 4000-frame animated short film. The next scene shows McCay and his assistants working in the studio. Next, McCay gathers his friends together to show them the film. The movie then concludes with by far the most famous part, McCay's animated short, which he made by hand-drawing 4000 images on rice paper. The images were photographed by Blackton.


  • Animated Adaptation: It might be the very first one.
  • The Bet: McCay is challenged by his friends to make a four-thousand frame animated cartoon, within one month. He does so. The animated portion takes up the final quarter of the 10-minute film.
  • Deranged Animation: The animation is quite surreal, with characters stretching and shrinking, materializing out of random lines, etc. McCay is demonstrating potential of the art form.
  • Line Boil: Present, as one might expect for a hand-drawn cartoon.
  • Medium Awareness: One of the characters in the animated short draws another character, which he then interacts with.
  • Medium Blending: A combination of live-action and animation. The first part is a live-action film detailing the making of the cartoon, and the last part is the finished cartoon.
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: The actual title of the film is "Winsor McCay: The Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics". It is almost universally referred to simply as Little Nemo.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: Where McCay and his friends are hanging out when they make the bet, and where he shows them the finished cartoon.
  • Splash of Color: The cartoon characters are hand-colored.
  • Undercrank: Employed when McCay is sketching out his Little Nemo characters for his friends.