JUNGLE IMPS "WHY THE PARROT LEARNED TO TALK" ORIGINAL 1903 SUNDAY PAGE ART BY WINSOR McCAY.
19.75x23-1/8" illustration board with paper mounted to it. Art by Winsor McCay, the creator of legendary Sunday comic strip "Little Nemo" that ran from 1905-1914 and was revived again in the 1920s. Also noted as creator of 1914 animated cartoon "Gertie the Dinosaur" (See following item #1238). In 1903, before Nemo, McCay created a Sunday strip that ran only in the Cincinnati Enquirer called "Tales Of The Jungle Imps By Felix Fiddle." McCay went on to do 43 different stories for the strip in 1903 between Jan.-Nov., 1903. These tales were based on poems by George Randolph Chester (an editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer) and the stories were similar to Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories." In each Sunday page, an animal's anatomy was accounted for with stories involving three mischievious and somewhat cruel Jungle Imps and their pestering of various animals. McCay biographer John Canemaker says "Tales Of The Jungle Imps Was Winsor McCay's First Attempt In An Extended Series Format To Bring Together All Of His Ecclectic Talents In A Cohesive Graphic Style. On Each Page He Found Fresh Ways To Combine His Exquisite Craftmanship, Dynamic Staging, Sense Of Caricature, Mastery Of Perspective And Feeling For Motion With His Version Of The Decorative Art Nouveau Style." Each week, the Imps would be seen tormenting a trunkless, ancestorial elephant or neckless ancestorial giraffe or some other ancient ancestor of a present-day creature. These animals would then develop their special features to defend themselves against the Imps' pranks. Usually, monkey surgeons helped remodel the persecuted animals, rarer was when the victims saved themselves on their own. The page we are offering here is "Why The Parrot Learned To Talk" which deals with a trio of Jungle Imps antagonizing a sleeping trio of prehistoric cavemen. The Imps look on from bushes as club-toting men discuss eating whale and elephant for breakfast. When men fell asleep, Imps attack with sticks only to be caught by men who grab the imps while saying such things as "Hello! You Measly Imps, Hello You Brats, Hello You Mischievous Wretches." All the while, parrots look on and in last panel imitate what they have heard, threatening the Imps. Felix Fiddle oversees each panel. 4 paste-on text panels nicely complete the story. Original art has been hand-colored by McCay as is often the practice when original art from this era was presented as a gift. In 2006, a family in Ohio had held the only known (11) examples of McCay's original art for over 100 years. 2 art dealers convinced the family of the importance of this art, a third party contacting the Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library, resulting in the family selling 3 pages, donating 2 to the OSU library, the 2 art dealers buying the remaining 6. A 2006 press release from OSU curator, Lucy Shelton Caswell, said this "The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library Acquired Five Of The Original Hand-Colored Drawings From Their Finder: "How The Turtle Got His Shell, How The Quillypig Got His Quills, How The Rhinocerous Lost His Beauty, How The Hound Got So Thin, Fourth Of July In The Jungle." It's Remarkable That These Originals Would Turn Up In Columbus, Ohio Which Is The Only City In The Country With An Academic Library Devoted To Cartoons," said Caswell. "We're Delighted That The Family Who Found These Important Works Understood That Some Of Them Belonged In An Institution Where They Would Be Preseved And Protected While Also Being Made Accessible To Scholars, Researchers And Students." The 2 art dealers obtained "How The Tiger Got His Stripes, How The Pig Got His Appetite, How The Camel Got His Back Up, How The Snake Lost His Body, How The Pelican Lost His Pouch" and "Why The Parrot Learned To Talk." Until now, the only example of the 11 Imps pages found that made it to public sale was "How The Pelican Got His Pouch." Recently, a "Little Nemo" page sold privately for $55,000, a cut-up and re-assembled page missing the top title panel sold for $40,000. McCay did 400+ Nemo pages, roughly 10 times the amount of Imp pages, making Imps pages much rarer. These pages are considered to be the most significant original comic art find of the past 20 years. The strip itself is so obscure and rare that only a couple of the actual newspaper pages have ever turned up due to its limited distribution in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Obvious margin wear/aging. Corners are worn with .75" piece missing from bottom right-hand corner, removing "Cay" from McCay's inked signature. .5x1" piece missing from fourth text panel, only removing a few letters. Art has moderate trace of aging. Colors remain bold. Aside from noted margin defects, page is Fine. Unique, one-of-a-kind piece. Great content.