Hey Friends! I wanted to do a short biography of an animator and their work, and during my research found another wordpress site that I really like!
The blog features the history of film and animation, and the link I pasted is a post about 7 of the most famous animators in history. Of course there are hundreds of animators, and most of whom we’ll never know the names or faces of. But these guys in particular could be called “forerunners” of the animation world, and their creations the guinea-pigs. If you take a look for yourself, some of them are Walt Disney, Max Fleischer (Popeye, Betty Boop), Tex Avery and Robert McKimson (Bugs Bunny). For the next few posts I would like to focus on these guys, creative geniuses behind it all.
I decided to do my biography on the man who is considered by many as the “first animator in history”, James Stuart Blackton. Known by most as J. Stuart Blackton, he’s most famous for his short films “The Enchanted Drawing” (1900) and “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces” (1906).
The Enchanted Drawing was a very short film that Blackton produced of himself drawing the cartoon face of a man, a hat, a bottle of wine, a glass, and a cigar. He used frame by frame, stop-motion techniques to make the objects move, and then appear to become real as he took them off the canvas.
Click here to see The Enchanted Drawing on youtube. Pretty cool, huh?
His second experiment, Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, was what many film historians regard as the first fully animated feature, while you still see his real hands as he draws. Blackton used chalk on a chalkboard and once again a stop-motion technique to draw several cartoons and make them move. He was also said to have used cut-out stick puppetry to look like chalk for the clown towards the end of the clip.
Here’s his masterpiece, Humerous Phases of Funny Faces.
You could say that Blackton created the first cartoon short, or epidode, whether it belonged to a series or not. His talents and innovation were what brought him from his job as reporter and artist for the New York Evening World newspaper, to being the founder of Vitagraph Studios, which would greatly influence, and later be bought by Warner Bros in 1925. Truly a pioneer in the world of animation.