Saturday, May 13, 2006


Here's a look at a footnote in animation history.

I was going through a collection of cartoons from Judge, a popular humor magazine the late 1890s through the 1920s. Judge was similar to the old Life magazine as it had short essays and cartoons. Life was a superior magazine, though, as it had political commentary, theater reviews by Robert Benchley and movie reviews by Robert E. Sherwood.

Judge had James Montgomery Flagg as its star illustrator, while Life boasted of Charles Dana Gibson.

I was looking through my two Judge collections looking to see if Harrison Cady, the illustrator I'm currently researching, had contributed to Judge (his cartoons were in Life). I didn't see any Cady, but here is one of several cartoons by J.R. Bray, arguably the father of modern animation productions techniques.

Bray was half of the Bray-Hurd patent on cels and has been credited to have been the producer to have figured out how to make cartoons like Henry Ford made cars: on a production line.

Bray is largely forgotten today. His greatest success was in the silent era with his Col. Heeza Liar series,– which was out-shined by Felix the Cat and Ko-Ko the Clown.

One of the mostinterestingg parts of Bray's legacy is that he launched the careers of Max Fleischer and Walter Lantz, two men whose careers in animation became far better known to the public than Bray's.

The cartoon is from a 1908 collection from Judge, although I think the date is "'03."

© 2006 Gordon Michael Dobbs
Opinions expressed in this column are mine alone. So there!

1 comment:

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