I’m a little disappointed with myself for not previously knowing who Winsor McCay was. As someone interested in art, comics, and history, I feel I’ve missed out on something, but am very glad to have become acquainted with him through Katherine Roeder’s book, Wide Awake in Slumberland.
Winsor McCay is considered to be the father of modern comics and his work was likely considered cutting edge and avant garde. I was extremely impressed with the highly imaginative fantasy elements that were regular aspects of his strips. And while it was his comic strips that were inspiration to some of the biggest names in comics work, this book examines McCay as an artist and his work in relation to the mores of the time and compares and contrasts the creativity of the work with a growing, adaptable, changing society.
Author Katharine Roeder has done some incredible research and presents the work quite well. Though ‘scholarly’ and not a ‘light’ read, the work is very accessible and the book is peppered with McCay’s strips as examples of what Roeder is discussing.
This is one of those books that I intend to read again, and because I have it in digital format, I’m putting it on my ‘wish’ list for a hard copy. There is too much here to capture it all in one reading and McCay’s work deserves attention, and I just plain want to understand this artist better.
My one complaint is my digital copy. The lettering in the comic strips is small, fine and I often could not read it. I read this book primarily on a 10.1″ tablet, and if I tried to enlarge a page to read the strip, it pixellated out so much that it was still impossible to read. I tried reading it on my computer screen but still experience pixillation issues with the small type face. While this prevented me from fully appreciated McCay’s comic strips, it did not prevent me from understanding Roeder’s work.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in art, comics, history, or sociology.
Looking for a good book? It is unlikely that you are already familiar with Winsor McCay, but I assure you that this book is worth your attention and you will probably come away with an appreciation for the man, his art, and the context for the time it was popular.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay
author: Katherine Roeder
publisher: University Press of Mississippi
hardcover, 221 pages