Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Untold Story of Artist Winsor McCay's first 18
years of life in his hometown of Spring Lake, MI

Spring Lake, Michigan is the hometown of Winsor McCay, groundbreaking comic strip artist, and pioneering animator. In 2009, a historical marker was placed on the location where Winsor's childhood school once stood, Spring Lake Union School, were he created his first commercial illustration, The Sinking of the Alpena, in October 1880. The illustration, drawn on the schoolhouse blackboard, was photographed, and sold as postcards. It got McCay, who previously cared little if others liked his work, to thinking, "Maybe I can make money doing this."

At the unveiling of the historical marker, pictured at right, a letter was read for the event, written by McCay's grandson, Winsor. R. McCay, the text of which, will be published in the book.

Winsor McCay's life in Spring Lake, "Growing Up McKay," reflects the spelling of the family name at that time.

Robert McKay, and his wife Janet, moved to Spring Lake, Michigan in 1866, encouraged by entrepreneur Zenas G. Winsor, who Robert found employment with. Janet McKay journeyed to West Zorra, Ontario, Canada, to be with her folks for the birth of their first child, whom they named, Zenas Winsor McKay, after Robert's friend and employer. Janet returned with their young son to their rental home in Spring Lake. 

By 1870, the McKays built their first home, on the corner of Meridian and Tolford Streets, in a humble, but prestigious part of Spring Lake. They would see success, as did their son Winsor, and tragedy as well, when they lost their home to a fire, and Winsor's namesake suffered a devastating crisis that influenced young Winsor.

The book, "Winsor McCay: Boyhood Dreams" is like no other book published about the artist, as it tells, in detail, the period completely missing from his life - the first 18 years of his life. It's where he learned to draw, who he knew, and influenced him, and how he came to draw the sinking of the passenger ship, The Alpena, and the secret emotional story behind it.

Don't miss this fascinating, and historical book. There's no other like it, and never will be. Available at The Bookman on Washington Street in downtown Grand Haven, and on Amazon!

Winsor's Littlest Fans Celebrate Annual "McCay Day" Event

While every day is McCay day in Spring Lake, Michigan, one day a year is set aside for family fun to observe our hometown hero. "McCay Day," which first began on June 17, 2008, is an annual event hosted by the Spring Lake District Library for children and their parents. The morning program, of the all-day event, is hosted by award-winning children's book illustrator Aaron Zenz, and involves activities related to McCay for children. In the afternoon, children's book illustrator Kevin Collier hosts an "I'm OK with McCay" presentation, which combines a history of Winsor McCay with an illustration class for children and their parents. McCay day also features a film festival presenting many of Winsor McCay's animated shorts, including "Little Nemo," "Gertie the Dinosaur," and "The Sinking of the Lusitania," to name a few. Also at the event, author and McCay historian John Canemaker's documentary "Remembering Winsor McCay" has been shown. At this year's event, children took their talents to the sidewalks, drawing McCay characters and other imaginative doodles with chalk for all to see. The Spring Lake District Library and members of the Winsor McCay committee thank all who participated this year! Now children in Spring Lake discover Little Nemo, instead of Finding Nemo! Pictured: children gathered to color a picture of Little Nemo.

Creating Awareness and a Park for Our Native Son

It is an ongoing effort to spread the word about Winsor McCay in Ottawa County, Michigan, Many individuals have helped over the years. While resources are meager, plans to honor McCay in his hometown are grand. As grand as the Grand River, which was virtually a minute walk from Winsor McCay's childhood home. Dedicated volunteers go the extra mile to recognize our native son, out of admiration and respect, not self interest. Our hope is that generating awareness concerning McCay's life in Spring Lake, 18 years of it, in fact, will touch others around the globe as an outreach. You can become a part of this historical heritage. If you can assist financially in the effort to help build a play area for children, featuring a life-size statue of Gertie the Dinosaur, it would be greatly appreciated.
Click on the link: Village of Spring Lake, and you will see in the upper right hand corner a Paypal button that reads: Give to the Winsor McCay Fund, where you can donate to help us and make the dreams of young McCay fans, here in his hometown, a dream come true! Pictured: An overhead presentation on Winsor McCay at a McCay Day event, and snapshot of donation button found on The Village of Spring Lake website. 

Spring Lake, Michigan Winsor McCay Resources
Spring Lake District Library Winsor McCay Collection

The Spring Lake Winsor McCay Committee
(Present at recent meetings)
Mark Miller, Lisa Donner, Elizabeth Wheeler and Kevin Collier

Purchase the book from Amazon!
74 Pages / Paperback / $8.95

"Winsor McCay: Boyhood Dreams" Author Kevin Collier
Kevin Scott Collier is a resident of Grand Haven, Michigan. Collier makes routine drives "over the bridge" to his second "home," in Spring Lake, to the Spring Lake District Library, where the Winsor McCay Committee was established and meets several times a year.

Pictured reading the letter from Winsor's grandson at the unveiling of the Winsor McCay historical marker in 2009 outside the library, Kevin has spoken at hundreds of public events for nearly 35 years about McCay's early years in the city. He's an original member of the Winsor McCay Committee, founded in 2007, and teaches a cartooning art class annually at the "McCay Day" festivities hosted at the library for parents and children annually, in June.
Collier is the author of several local historic books, a few fictional chapter books for "tweens," is a professional children's book illustrator, and has illustrated and created children's programs for streaming television channels. He is married to Kristen Collier, author and church secretary, and they made their home with their son, Jarod, who is an honor student at Grand Haven High School.

Contact the Author

For correspondence, with the author of "Winsor McCay: Boyhood Dreams," email Kevin Collier here. Or, if you don't like to "click," it's: