Winsor McCay sketches a young boy in a "Nemo" sash. (Courtesy Library of Congress)

Today's Google Doodle is in honor of the 107th anniversary of the "Little Nemo In Slumberland" comic strips, which appeared in the New York Herald starting in 1905. The strips were created by cartoonist Winsor McCay, who hailed from Michigan but eventually found his way to New York sometime around 1904. A few facts about McCay:

  • In 1904 McCay published two strips: "Dream of a Rarebit Fiend" and "Little Sammy Sneeze," in the NY Telegram and the NY Herald, respectively. The papers were owned by the same company, but the editor wanted McCay to use a pen name for one strip, to separate the work/papers. For "Dream" he used the alias "Silas."
  • "Dream" was so popular that there was talk making it a Broadway musical.
  • "Nemo," considered McCay's masterpiece, was made into a musical.
  • In 1911 McCay moved to William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper empire, and started getting into animated film (which he would make part of his vaudeville act). Meet Gertie the Dinosaur:
  • Hearst felt the vaudeville was taking McCay's time away from the newspaper and forbid him from doing live performances outside of New York.
  • "This time period [1914] was the heyday of Yellow Journalism, and Hearst’s papers were in a war of ideas, words and images with those of Joseph Pulitzer. During the first three months of the year, McCay entirely ceased drawing comics to concentrate solely on editorial cartoons to accompany the papers’ often inflammatory op-ed pieces."
  • In 1918 McCay created a propaganda film called "The Sinking of the Lusitania," which he hoped would inspire America to join WWI.
  • "McCay's work is thought to have influenced generations of animators, including future stars of the industry such as Walt Disney."
  • McCay died in 1934, and is buried in Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn. His obituary in the NY Times states he had a "sudden collapse" at his home. He reportedly suffered from a cerebral embolism.

Here's the Google Doodle:

And a little bit from an original strip: