Winsor McCay is considered by many to be the “father of animation.” He is probably best known for his newspaper comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-1914 and 1924-1927) and the animated short film, Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). His work influenced countless generations of illustrators and animators including Walt Disney. Unfortunately, outside of film history books, Winsor never received the attention that he deserved.
The Flying House (1921)
In 1921, Winsor McCay created one of his greatest short films, The Flying House. Unfortunately for animation history, his boss William Randolph Hearst felt that the talented artist was neglecting his drawing duties at the paper, and demanded that he stop making films. So, sadly, The Flying House was McCay's last film. Who knows what great achievements he could have attained had he not given up his animation career. With his talent, he could have surpassed Walt Disney, whose Mickey Mouse was still 6 years in the future.
The Flying House (2011)
I discovered The Flying House a few years ago while watching a collection of McCay’s works on an old videocassette tape. I was amazed by the humor, great storytelling, and of course, the superior draftsmanship. But all that was hindered by too many intertitles, word balloons, and the lack of color, music, and sound. The biggest problem with the film is the terrible condition of the print. It has been neglected and badly handled for nearly 90 years. It's a mess of scratches, dust, and erosion. So, I took it upon myself to restore and update the film for a new generation. STEP 1: painstakingly clean every frame of the film by removing all the imperfections. STEP 2: color each frame, using reprints of Winsor’s color comics as a guide. Winsor loved color and even hand-colored some of his early films, like Little Nemo in Slumberland. STEP 3: record actors Patricia Clarkson and Matthew Modine to give voices to the two leading characters allowing us to remove the word balloons and intertitles. STEP 4: hire a musician and sound editor to add a stirring new soundtrack to compliment the beautiful new picture.
I’ve been working on all of this for awhile now, but still have a long way to go. The restoration process is quite laborious – each of the 12,000 frames has to be personally cleaned up. There's no magic computer program called "Clean the Film.” With your help, we can continue to work on this important project and hopefully complete it later this year. $10,000 is the bare minimum we need to move forward, but we hope to raise a lot more. I’ve never worked on a project like this before. It’s far more costly, time consuming, and difficult than I ever anticipated. Even a small pledge of $5 or $10 will help us, so if you’re a fan of animation, please consider supporting this project.
I remember when the great bluesman Howlin' Wolf, in his declining years, recorded an album with his big fans, The Rolling Stones, and that album went on to become the greatest blues album ever, and people rediscovered the genius of Howlin' Wolf. Well, that's what I want to do with Winsor McCay. Young animators have no idea who this genius is. In my opinion, he was the greatest animator, bar none; better than Ub Iwerks, Hayao Miyazaki, Bill Tytla, Milt Kahl – even Bill Plympton! And he deserves to be rediscovered by the world for the genius that he was. I hope this new version of his film will give Winsor and his great body of work a second chance at life.
Thank you for your support!
For more information on Winsor McCay and Bill Plympton, visit the following sites.
For a pledge of only $125, you will receive this limited edition 14 x 22-inch movie poster signed and numbered by Bill Plympton and actor Matthew Modine!
- (30 days)