Database for Animation Studies


Comics and the Critique of Chronophotography, or ‘He Never Knew When It Was Coming!’

In the wake of Muybridge's and Marey's experiments in recording movement, comics quickly began to emphasize the depiction of continuous movement. Chronophotography mapped the kinetic body onto the regulated spaces of industrial culture: it was a means of revealing the body and a tool for its containment and control. Comics by Wilhelm Busch, Steinlen, Winsor McCay and others, however, mimic the fixed viewpoints and measured progress of chronophotography, but caricature the instrumental reason that supplied its motivation. Each episode of Winsor McCay's Little Sammy Sneeze, for example, offered systematic and meticulous time–motion breakdowns of everyday activities, but the rhythm of efficient motion is subverted by the mighty sneeze that turns all to chaos. With an emphasis on the pioneering comics and animation work of McCay, this article explores the peculiar, parodic counter-logics that mark an oasis of disorder in a time of insistent regulation.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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