Cartoon Research Books
July 22, 2017 posted by

Dreamy Dud Introduces “Cartoon Research Books”

Special announcement today – and a special offer exclusively for readers of this blog.

For years I’ve been contemplating new ways to share my cartoon research (and that of others) beyond the daily posts on this page. Some of it needs to be committed to physical print and not left to linger in the digital ether. Call me old-school, but I still read – and use actual books in doing my work. Reference books actually are “fun” to peruse, to hold, to stare at for hours – with no drain on battery power.

No one here believes ‘books are dead’… heck, I myself am currently preparing a proposal for a big new book project for a major publisher (‘top secret’ for now). But what I’m considering in the meantime is another idea I’ve had for years (maybe decades)… a series of branded ‘mini-books’; featuring supplemental, or additional information, to the blog posts presented here on Cartoon Research. Smaller than a “real” book, but larger than a typical post. Modestly priced, under $10.

With self-publishing now a reality and easier than ever, the time has come to at least “put my toe in the water”. Author and historian Kevin Scott Collier, whom I just met via his recent mini book on Winsor McCay has agreed to partner with me in this experiment to create a Cartoon Research line of books.

We are still in the earliest phase of drawing up plans for this series of mini-books, but as of today we are offering up the first in the series – a filmography of Dreamy Dud. We have a second book compiled by Collier on tap for next month – and hopefully the third (in September) to be compiled by me (schedule permitting).

The book can be ordered on this Amazon page. It is 40 pages long and costs $5.95.

Below is a bit of background by author Kevin Scott Collier.

Discovering Wallace Carlson and Dreamy Dud

By Kevin Scott Collier

My inspiration for writing the book Dreamy Dud: Wallace A. Carlson’s Animation Classic arose from my interest in my hometown hero Winsor McCay. The pioneering animator spent the first 18 years of his life growing up not more than three miles from my home. McCay resided in Spring Lake, Michigan from 1867-1885.

While researching for a book I wrote on young McCay, I came across Wallace A. Carlson, another early animator from that period who mentioned McCay in a piece he wrote for Movie Pictorial magazine, published December 1915. Reading the article, it peaked my interest in Carlson.

The three page spread, written by Carlson, explained the animation process. The article is truly an oddity. Entertainment magazines of the early 1900s would review cartoons or publish occasional feature spots on animators, but to hear one in his own words was amazing.

The piece wasn’t diminished or translated by a reporter interviewing Carlson then trying to explain the process as a narrative. It was all Carlson, like a magician, telling the secrets behind the great illusions.

I reprint Carlson’s article in the book, along with Dreamy Dud episode descriptions originally published in entertainment and film industry magazines from 1914-1920.

The more I read about him, the more I appreciated the enormous amount of work that went into all of the short animated cartoons he created. He explained how the the intensity of the lights required to photograph the artwork onto film caused him to wear dark glasses due to the glare and a hat upon his head so his hair would not be burned by the heat.

Carlson, who is best known for his Dreamy Dud character, was a pretty remarkable character himself. He worked fast, and learned animation on the job by trial and error. In a time period where technology worked by the crank of a lever, the ability to produce cartoons that increased in graphic detail and quality is astounding.

Becoming a fan of Carlson opened up my eyes as to what techniques and routine he used that became an early standard, such as fixed backgrounds, and cut out illustrations, such as heads with changing faces, to fast track production. Carlson may not have pioneered many of these things, but he created a practice others noticed. This cartoonist was an incredible early example of the rule: “Work smarter, Not harder”.

Perhaps one aspect attracting interest in Carlson’s cartoons is they appeared, then vanished, in a narrow time frame. While he was a print cartoonist for most of his life, his animation work spanned only about seven years. And while he created at least 140 film titles, only a small number of those have been recovered and preserved.

This Dreamy Dud book is a little book about a big talent who created a small boy and a dog, who entertained young and old on the silver screen a century ago. Wallace A. Carlson was hardly in the shadow of Winsor McCay. He took animation to another level and helped shape the industry.

Special thanks goes out to Tommy Jose Stathes for his exceptional help with the project.

9 Comments

  • Sounds wonderful (I’ve always wanted an official Cartoon Research book…and at a cheap price). Any ideas swirling around on future subjects (more Bray artists? Urban legends?, etc, etc?)..

    • I’m glad to have been able to contribute in some small way to this. Jonathan, I’m planning my own eventual works on Bray and Bray talents; but I don’t want to rush things. Please be patient. 🙂

  • Good idea! Just odered it on Amazon Germany, and will cite it in my forthcoming “Animated film in Japan until 1919”. “Dreamy Dud” was known there, too.

  • It’s Just…Just..AMAZING!!!
    The first tutorial of the history!!

  • Pretty cool idea with Cartoon Research books! Color me interested for more.

  • Too bad Wally Carlson didn’t continue with animation, but he did fairly well in comics – “The Nebbs,” created by Sol Hess (a jeweler who contributed gags to Sidney Smith’s “The Gumps,” and started his own Gumps-like strip), which Carlson drew till it was merged with “The Toodle Family,” a strip written by Hess’ daughter and son-in-law and drawn by Rod Ruth. Wally then created “Mostly Malarky.”
    (There was a “Nebbs” radio show, which starred Gene and Kathleen Lockhart – June Lockhart’s parents.)

  • I think it’s a great idea, too! I will definitely order them. Looking forward to Tom Stathes contributions, too!

  • Great idea. I’m ordering now. Can you set up some sort of email list to let us know when a new book is out?

  • I just ordered mine. This is a great idea!

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