Thursday, July 2, 2009

Influences on Seth: Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay was a pioneer in the drawing of comic strips. He was, according to the things I have been reading about him, the first to set his comic stories in other than the real world, the first to use surrealism in his work, though what he himself wanted most to do was to draw beautiful pictures. His Little Nemo in Slumberland seems to have been the the first comic in which panels might change shape as an aspect of the story, so the panel shape became actually part of the artwork. This is one thing that Seth gloried in, and used especially robustly in Willworld, as you can see in this page, where Hal has come in contact with this hallucenogenic globe, and just bl0%*#>+=*~~s into never never land. This is an especially McCayish page, with Hal in his 19th century style nightshirt and nightcap (not that Little Nemo wears either one) and heading off to a sleep that is sure to have weird dreams.
There are several other aspects of Seth's art that owe something to McCay. In his style of drawing, where he didn't use shading, and not even much black, he needed some way to make the important parts of the image stand out. He did it by using heavier and lighter lines,

as McCay did. It seems to me that he did this consciously, after discovering McCay's work while he was in college. Seth's first or second multi-page booklet is a story he wrote in the style of McCay's "Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend" that starts out ordinary and grows more and more fantastic, ending with his heroine falling out of bed saying, "I knew I shouldn't have eaten that rarebit right before bed."

Also like McCay, Seth wanted particularly to draw beautiful pictures.

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