|The Sinking of the Alena. Drawn by Winsor McCay on a school blackboard at age 11, this image was professionally photographed and sold in postcards.|
McCay worked in many different jobs in his adult years. In Chicago he worked as an apprentice at a printing company while living with fellow artist Jules Guérin from whom he learned color and figure-drawing techniques. McCay moved to Cincinnati two years later where he painted signs, posters, and stage sets for a museum and its events. This increased his experience in drawing exotic and varied animal figures, something that would define the fantastic scenes in his later comics. He joined the Cincinnati Enquirer staff and became head of the art department. Here he began drawing and publishing his first comic strips in national journals such as Life, earning him exposure across the country. In 1903 McCay's work was brought to the attention of the New York Herald, and McCay was recruited to move to New York and draw comic strips for the paper.
McCay created many comic strips in his Herald career, including Little Sammy Sneeze, The Life of Hungry Henrietta, A Pilgrim's Progress, and The Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. From the very beginning, McCay experimented with different techniques and perspectives in his comic strips. Little Sammy Sneeze for example employs the actual structure of the strip itself as a tool to illustrate the forcefulness of Sammy's Sneeze.
|Little Sammy Sneeze one of McKay's early Herald comic strips shows a sneeze so powerful that it breaks the comic strip altogether.|
|The first strip of Little Nemo in Slumberland|
|A strip of Little Nemo featuring dynamic panels and creative style|
Roeder, Katherine. Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay. Print.