A Brief History of Animating Comic Strips

The Garfield Movie, currently running on movie theaters (Rotten Tomatoes scoring much better by audiences than critics) prompted Cartoon Brew to revisit animated cartoons that were adapted from comic strips.

Vincent Alexander notes:

The history of adapting comic strips to animation goes all the way back to Little Nemo (1911), one of the earliest animated shorts ever made. Winsor McCay, the genius behind the painstakingly intricate fantasy strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, was inspired to make his characters move after he saw a flipbook that his son brought home. McCay pumped out four thousand drawings on rice paper, each individually hand-colored, all by himself. The fluid movement and dimensional quality of McCay’s animation is still staggering.

Vincent then takes through the 20th century with such characters as Mutt and Jeff and Popeye.

The most successful cartoon character to come from the comics is undoubtedly Popeye, who first appeared in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre in 1929 and became the strip’s breakout star. The cartoons made a few changes from the strip; the one-off villain Bluto was turned into Popeye’s primary rival, and although Popeye of the comics always claimed his strength came from eating spinach, the idea of Popeye downing a can of spinach to gain an extra burst of power was devised by the animators. Still, the Fleischer cartoons captured the essence of Popeye’s gruff appeal, and his gravely voice – created by Billy Costello – couldn’t have fit more perfectly.

Nearly three dozen clips of animated comic strips are included in the study featuring Little Nemo, Toonerville Folks, The Katzenjammer Kids, Count Screwloose, Rube Goldberg and a machine, Little Lulu, Peanuts, Snuffy Smith, Little Orphan Annie, Hagar the Horrible, The Wizard of Id, B.C., Miss Peach, Pogo, Doonesbury, Ziggy, For Better or For Worse, Cathy, Bloom County, The Far Side, Dilbert, and circles back to Little Nemo and Garfield. And those shown and mentioned above, with dozens more discussed.

Plus a test for Mutts and a clip of an unreleased Krazy Kat.

Check out the informative and entertaining article.

2 thoughts on “A Brief History of Animating Comic Strips

Comments are closed.