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A screen shot from 'The First Circus.'

A scene from "The First Circus" from 1921

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Three Early Cartoonist Filmmakers
"The Flintstones" are a more recent example of a cartoon based on prehistoric times, but as you can see, the theme started years ago.

Tony Sarg was an illustrator and a puppeteer who created a kind of animation that is not done with drawings, but with a frame-by-frame filming of a silhouette marionette (a puppet with jointed limbs that are moved with strings). In this film, called "The First Circus," Sarg and co-animator Herbert M. Dawley imagined what a prehistoric circus might be like.

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VIDEO CREDIT: Dawley, Herbert M., producer and co-animator, Sarg, Tony, animator. "The First Circus." Dawley Prods. 1921. Origins of American Animation, Library of Congress.