The Wild Imagination at Play

The Wild Imagination at Play:

Interactions between Newspaper Cartooning, Comic Books and Animation  (curated by Maurice Greenia, Jr. Summer 2010)


At the Library of the University of Detroit Mercy, McNichols Campus (McNichols and Livernois) phone: 313-875-0663 Open Monday-Thursday 9am to 6pm/ Fridays 9am to 5pm and Saturdays 9am to 4pm  The show is up from July 12 to August 21 , 2010


This is my first attempt to do a blog about one of my exhibits here at the library.  I’ve long been interested in newspaper cartoons, comic books, graphic novels and cinematic animation.

 Flip books are early sequential images which move when flipped by hand.  These include an old silent movie and an image of myself, moving my hands around.  There’s also part of a MAD reprint and a cartoon xerox that I hand-colored.

Then below, there’s an old 1980’s Etch-a-sketch animator toy and a cardboard zoetrope.  This came free with an old vinyl record LP.  You had it punch it out and put it together.  It was a Doors Lp.  You spin it on your turntable and watch the pictures move.

These first two cases include information on Winsor McCay.  He did amazing newspaper cartoons including Little Nemo in Slumberland.  He went on to be a pioneer animator, doing work regarded to be years ahead of it’s time.  His films included Gertie the Dinosaur:

Some of his other films:

Otto Messmer created Felix the Cat.  He was another pioneer animator as well as an excellent newspaper cartoonist.  Some of his work:

Then, there’s the story of Elsie Segar. He was another masterful newspaper cartoonist.  He didn’t make any of the animated cartoons himself.  He may have been more involved if he hadn’t died young, at age 43.  The Fleischer studios (out of New York), did the Popeye animation.  They also did the classic, early Betty Boop cartoons.


The Fleischer Brothers:


Betty Boop:

George Herriman’s Krazy Kat is also amazing and is represented in the exhibit.  There were some interesting cartoon versions but Herriman didn’t really work on them:

I’d intended to put this on my cinema blog but it fits in just as well here.  Some of my other favorite animators include Tex Avery, Ladislas Starewicz, Jan Svankmajer and those responsible for the classic Warner Brothers studio Looney Tunes cartoons.

Besides these “overlaps” there are also other influences.  Harvey Kurtzman’s early MAD magazine seems to be influenced by animation as well as print cartooning.  Warner Brothers animators and directors have admitted to being influenced by print cartoonists such as Bill Holman and Milt Gross.   This exhibit is a sort of collage or montage on the connections between printed cartooning and cinematic animation.

Phi Pheakistoscope

Thanks to Gary Schwartz for lending work from his archive including an Etch-a Sketch Animator toy, two zoetrope loops and a Phi Pheakistoscope.   Here is some of his work:

Noted: Winsor McCay spent much of his early life in Michigan.  His early art career included a job at a “dime museum” in Detroit, doing portraits.  Max Fleischer spent the late 1940’s and early 1950’s working at the Jam Handy Organization in Detroit.  The great Bob Clampett died in Detroit.  He was in town to promote the video release of his Beany and Cecil show.

There will be a reception for this exhibit here on Saturday August 14 from 1pm to 3pm.  If you think you’re coming please RSVP at my email

4 Responses to “The Wild Imagination at Play”

  1. Gary Schwartz Says:

    Perhaps a mention that Max Fleischer worked for Jam Handy in Detroit directing films on industrial processes utilizing animation.

  2. Gary Freeman Says:

    Wow! Great blog….with the links, etc.
    I’ll hit the reception, for sure.

    See you there, Gary S.,

    –Gary F.

  3. V.E.G. Says:

    I think Krazy Kat cartoons from Columbia possibly will remain in the Columbia vaults, permanently. It is not a popular today.

  4. My Library Exhibits at the University of Detroit Mercy | Adventures and Resources Says:

    […] […]

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