Winsor McCays “Sinking of the Lusitania

When I started doing flash animations as part of my elaborated project, I wanted to find out more about the history of animation, and how far back it went. I knew stop motion went quite far back in history, but I didn’t know anything about animation.

I found a piece of work by Winsor McCay, titled “The Sinking of The Lusitania” from 1918, based on the sinking of the ship in 1915. The animation was a factual documented piece, which told the story of how the ship sunk. The animation was created after the company McCay worked for didn’t pay much attention to the deaths of many people on the ship, which made McCay furious. He decided to go against his own employer and create the animation himself.

McCay wanted to show the public how the ship sunk properly. The Lusitania was hit by a german torpedo (or so is assumed, as this part of the story is debated).  The story was explained using animation because there were no photographs of the damaged the ship taken, so McCay wanted to make sure that everyone knew the story of the ship.

Here is the animation below:

McCay made the animation using thousands and thousands (25,000 to be precise) of individually traced drawings, which took a painstaking 22 months for him and his team to complete. The final shot of a women holding her child as they sink to their death was deliberately shown to emphasise the tragedy of the sinking ship, and was put in place to leave the audience with a chilling emotional recreation of the sinking ship and how it must have felt to be a victim in this horrific incident.

The whole article on this topic can be found at this website:




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