new-york

Herbert Crowley and Windsor McCay

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For several years prior to the out break of the First World War, Two Fantastic Draftsmen, as they are rightfully called at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shared a page in the funny papers of the New York Herald. Among the least anticipated contenders for a “Met” show, these turn-of-the-century illustrators are something of a smash hit, beguiling, popular and visually stimulating. (Conversely, the literary aspect of their comic strips—unlike our best ones—is almost nil.)

Herbert Crowley and Windsor McCay were comic strip artists of an heroic cast. Nothing today, at least no strip that has come into prominence since the Second World War (thereby excluding “Prince Valiant” with whom the relationship to McCay is visible if only for the historical opulence of the “mise-en-scene”) equals the visual fantasy and spatial complexities that these illustrations put out for weekly consumption. Herbert

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