Little Nemo (1911)
McCay’s only film with a co-director credit, to fellow animation pioneer Blackton, the film was his first animated experiment. Ironically, Blackton by this time had probably already declared his own animated experiments as amateurish wastes of time, but with the film, his primary function was likely to oversee production and shoot the live-action portion that makes up most of the short.
You see, much of the film dramatizes a bet that McCay makes with his cartoonist friends (mostly played by actors) and plays up how huge of an undertaking this animated film is. Ultimately, the thing that makes the film spectacular comes for just a couple of minutes in the end, but it’s radical. This was animation like the film had never seen before, fully realized to an extent that is quite baffling for a first attempt. The smooth naturalistic motion would continue to define McCay’s films, and LITTLE NEMO’s hand-coloring gives it an especially beautiful air.