“…Wow! What a narrow escape eh!? Where did Broncho Billy go? Oh! I was only dreaming…”★
COMIC HISTORIANS delight in finding unknown examples of comics mimicking the dénouement of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo dream strips where our hero falls out of bed to find it was only a dream. Examples can be found both before and after McCay began Little Nemo in Slumberland in the New York Herald on October 15, 1905.
Little Willie’s Dream was a 1914 comic strip feature in Motion Picture Magazine. W.H. Sheahan made a Little Willie’s Dream page for the November 1914 issue; L. Kirshbaum made one for the January 1914 issue.
Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson (1880-1971, real name Max Aronson) while still a budding movie actor —‘lost his role as a mounted outlaw in The Great Train Robbery (1903) because he kept falling off his horse’ (Brownlow, 1978). He did eventually make it as an actor in Westerns though. His biggest success came when he decided to set up his own film company, together with George K. Spoor. An S for Spoor and an A for Anderson gave it its name: the Essanay Company (1908-16). Gilbert M. Anderson became the first ‘motion picture cowboy’ in over 500 short Broncho Billy Westerns, one-reelers, and finally two-reelers. All filmed in his own primitive little studio in Niles Canyon, California. It was there that the first Broncho Billy was made, in July 1910. Most of these short films are lost.
| Nov 1914. Willie ‘shall die at the stake…’ Little Willie’s Dream. One-pager by W.H. Sheahan; dream strip in Motion Picture Magazine.|
| 1910s. Rerelease of the early Broncho Billy one-reel films or ‘photoplays.’|
| 1912. “BRONCHO BILLY.” Essanay publicity photograph. ‘…Broncho Billy Anderson, dressed in the Easterner’s conception of the Western costume, derived largely from dime novels…’ (Fenin & Everson, 1973)|
| Jan 1915. Willie is shown ‘how to ride a hawss…’ Little Willie’s Dream. One-pager by L. Kirshbaum; dream strip in Motion Picture Magazine.|
| 1905-11. Little Nemo in Slumberland. Final.|