The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive will celebrate the 100th birthday of animation on April 6. An open house at the archive facility in Burbank. The festivities will revisit the humble beginnings and various milestones of the art form, which has gone on to become one of the greatest American creative contributions to the arts.
The organization is counting from the April 6, 1906 release of J. Stewart Blackton’s seminal film, Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. “Although there were many early films that experimented with stop-motion and other techniques related to animation, Blackton was the first to create ‘drawings that live’… sequential drawings that make a character come to life on the screen,’ says Stephen Worth, Director of Asifa-Hollywood’s Animation Archive. ‘The meaning of the word ‘animate’ literally means ‘to give life to’. Blackton gave life to a whole new artform with his pioneering efforts.”
Blackton was a “lightning sketch artist” billed in Vaudeville as “The Komikal Kartoonist.” Inspired by Thomas Edison’s recent invention of moving pictures, he teamed with Albert E. Smith to form Biograph Films, the first movie studio. Together, they used simple in-camera effects to create “trick films” before Blackton ventured to incorporate his drawing abilities and make what is widely regarded as the first American animated film. A downloadable movie file of Humorous Phases of Funny Faces is available at www.animationarchive.org/animations100.
Asifa-Hollywood is building a museum, library and digital archive devoted to the art of animation in Burbank, Calif. Launched late last year, the facility houses as a database of images, biographic information, movie files and photos for use by researchers, students, artists and the general public. More information can be found at www.animationarchive.org. Cartoon fans can also sign an animation birthday card at www.animationarchive.org/birthdaycard.