Stuart Blackton (left,) was a young English-born adventurer who pioneered American films as one of the founders of Vitagraph in 1899. In 1906 he issued a short film Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. A sensation with audiences, the illusion was created by a very simple method.

Comical faces were drawn on a blackboard, then erased. The camera was stopped after each face was photographed. The 'stop-motion' provided a startling effect as the facial expressions changed before the audience's eyes. Blackton also experimented with animation in The Haunted Hotel (1906), The Magic Fountain Pen (1907), and other films.

 Created by Tom Howell © 1997 Tom Howell Productions