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Text Commentary

Animation as the Performance of Labor
by Nicholas Sammond `

From its very beginnings, American commercial animation has foregrounded its labor practices. Rather than hiding the labor that go into their products, animation studios celebrate that work. But they celebrate it in a very specific way. During the Golden Age of animation, that performance usually occurred in a studio's public relations. But in animation's earliest days, that performance actually occurred on the vaudeville stage, or (as in this case) in filmed prologues and epilogues that linked the animator's work to...his or her work. In this instance, Winsor McCay has converted the lightning sketch act through which he presented Little Nemo (1911) onstage into a narrative that weaves in and around the animation itself. Having done the intense labor of animation, he now performs it for the camera. Note the vaudevillian staging conventions.

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Winsor McCay's Little Nemo by Winsor McCay (1911) Winsor McCay's 1911 Little Nemo, based on his popular Sunday morning comic strip, "Little Nemo in Slumberland." The film replaced his live stage act with a framing narrative which centered around performing the incredible labor of animation.