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This chapter locates one of the significant taproots of American commercial animation on the vaudeville stage. Performing animators such as Winsor McCay, James Stuart Blackton, and Pat Sullivan made a living as lightning-sketch artists, creating complex visual puns on chalkboards and pads of paper before live audiences. These artists saw in the popular new medium of film an opportunity to expand their stage shows to include photographic tricks and characters that seemed to move and change on their own. As they developed these new acts, they incorporated the play with race and ethnicity that was one of the hallmarks of...

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