Before Little Nemo, there were the Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend
March 7, 2006 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Note that this post has ten less links than the one that preceded it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:12 PM on March 7, 2006

Damn bugmenot.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 PM on March 7, 2006

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:16 PM on March 7, 2006

Hmm, until the second to last link I thought rarebit was a weird misspelling of rabbit. Oh, and thanks!
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:25 PM on March 7, 2006

posted by creeky at 11:34 PM on March 7, 2006

Oh papa! Do you know what causes strange dreams when you eat cheese before going to bed? I do not! CHOUM!
more linkies
Nice link! I've always loed McCay's art.... but seriously - what is it with the strange dreams and cheese before bed?

posted by Zack_Replica at 11:42 PM on March 7, 2006

I used to love that stuff when I was a kid. After seeing this, I'm gonna have to get some. Mmm...fattening.
posted by obvious at 11:48 PM on March 7, 2006

Citizen Premier - you should try it - it's great!
link - link - link
...especially before bed. Cheese dreams are the best!
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:48 PM on March 7, 2006

Okay, it's bedtime and now you've gone and made me hungry...the Rarebit Fiend is a great book to have lying around for friends to thumb through; it's hard to believe McCay wrote it over 100 years ago. He was a graphic art genius, way ahead of his time, and fantastically imaginative.
posted by tula at 12:23 AM on March 8, 2006

great post, great timing. Perused while snacking on crackers and cheese, just before bed.
posted by jeffj at 1:06 AM on March 8, 2006

Sweet dreams, all.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:27 AM on March 8, 2006

Hmm. English nachos?
posted by Mijo Bijo at 1:33 AM on March 8, 2006

clearly the yorkshire variant is superior. unlike all the others, it has bacon.
posted by juv3nal at 1:41 AM on March 8, 2006

This is great stuff.

This comic seems to have inspired Kubrick somewhat.

Been living in the UK for 4 years and haven't had rarebit yet. Now I quite want to, but maybe not before I go to sleep...
posted by slimepuppy at 1:56 AM on March 8, 2006

To the Brits, "grilling" = heating from above? Wow, that makes no sense at all. I thought grilling was grilling because of the heated grill/grille cooking something and leaving the telltale burn marks.

Great post, though. I think the other cartoon about Nemo was mentioned here on the blue before, but I'd never heard of the Rarebit Fiend.
posted by emelenjr at 2:57 AM on March 8, 2006

emenlenjr, it's 'cause the ovens here have an in-built grille at the top. Therefore grilling = heating from above.

Though we do have "normal" barbeques in the summer with more traditional below grille heating.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:18 AM on March 8, 2006

posted by slimepuppy at 3:19 AM on March 8, 2006

Wow, I love Winsor McCay but I didn't know about 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend"; now I want a collection. Thanks, AZ! (And thanks for including a link that explains why "Welsh rarebit" is called that, the original term being "Welsh rabbit.")
posted by languagehat at 5:18 AM on March 8, 2006

Awesome post. I love cartoons from the olden days.
And I'm going to make some rarebit tonight before I go to bed.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:48 AM on March 8, 2006

Those who like Winsor McCay might want to pick up this collection of full-size Little Nemo in Slumberland reprints once it comes back into print. I have a copy from the first printing, and can confirm that the book is absolutely gorgeous--the price is steep at $120 + s&h, but all buyer's remorse will vanish once the gigantic box containing the book arrives at your doorstep.
posted by Prospero at 5:53 AM on March 8, 2006

Yabbut, do the tops of the ovens there touch the food being cooked? There are heating elements built into the tops of ovens over here, too, but those don't come down and sear the surface of what's being cooked.
posted by emelenjr at 5:56 AM on March 8, 2006

It's hard to imagine a time when artists like McCay (and George Herriman and George McManus and Lyonel Feininger...) had the space and the license to present these art pieces in the comics section of newspapers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to read this morning's Cathy wherein, I believe, she experiences some sort of amateurishly-drawn neurotic meltdown. Or maybe I'll look at Sally Forth first; how I love the characters' unchanging expressions. Or how about that scallywag Hagar, I bet he's up to some utterly unpredictable and anachronistic fun...
posted by the sobsister at 6:01 AM on March 8, 2006

I guess welsh rarebit was the hallucinogen of choice back in the early 1900's... in the days when coca-cola actually had cocaine in it. Go figure.
posted by crunchland at 6:01 AM on March 8, 2006

If you're a McCay fan, see if you can dig up one of these. It's the entire first run of the Little Nemo Sunday pages printed in full size. Absolutley gorgeous. The first edition sold out, but I spoke to the publisher at WonderCon a few weeks ago and they're doing a second printing.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:05 AM on March 8, 2006

posted by Otis at 6:09 AM on March 8, 2006

Winsor is the true master of the comic. I've been a fan for the better part of 30 years. I always wondered if rarebit was some type of hallucinogenic or if Winsor partook of some substance back in the days. Some of his ideas are beyond the realm of nightmarish.
posted by JJ86 at 6:26 AM on March 8, 2006

What's really wild is all the now-universal cartoon tropes that you find in McCay's work, like stairs that fold into a slide... this is in 1918! He couldn't have picked that stuff up from any earlier art, could he?
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:30 AM on March 8, 2006

I'll third Prospero and doctor_negative as regards the Splendid Sundays book. I bought it for myself as a holiday gift, and it is truly amazing.

I first encountered the Rarebit Fiend strips back in the 80s, and they are a lot of fun. If you like the subject matter you may also like Rick Veitch's efforts in dream-based comics, Roaring Rick's Rare Bit Fiends, although visually they are nothing like McKay.
posted by mkhall at 6:58 AM on March 8, 2006

the sobsister - perhaps a little zippy in your life would make you feel better about today's comics ... you can subscribe by email and get yesterday's strip for free

he doesn't get much room to work with, but he uses what he gets
posted by pyramid termite at 7:05 AM on March 8, 2006

Great post. Winsor McCay is one of the great masters of all time.

I credit my encountering his stuff as a teenager (in writing a high-school term paper on "animation") with waking me up to that fact that Walt Disney was not, in fact, the Great Innovator of Movie Cartoons as was the gospel at the time (mid-70s). There's stuff McCay did with character expression, fluid movement and believable weight in 1914's Gertie the Dinosaur that Disney's stable of first-rate cartoonists wouldn't catch up to until around 1940.

And, of course, it's funny to think that the "it was all a dream" ending was completely exhausted by McCay in two separate strips well before Dallas or the Wizard of Oz movie, our current points of reference for it.
posted by soyjoy at 7:47 AM on March 8, 2006

You know, I used to enjoy Zippy when I saw the strip once in a blue moon. Now that my local paper carries it every day, I realize it's every bit as repetitive and boring as Garfield. I no longer even bother to read it.
posted by languagehat at 7:48 AM on March 8, 2006

yeah, Zippy's fine (although I was a bigger fan when I first encountered it in comic-book form way-back-when) but languagehat has a point. Doing a daily comic (rather than serial adventure) strip is a stone bitch. Having your two or three or five characters transcend the teentsy-panels given you by today's papers to tell new stories that are, simultaneously, just repetitive or familiar enough every day for, you know, thirty or forty years must be brutal. That's why the ones who did it successfully over any kind of a long haul (Segar, Herriman, Schulz, even Trudeau) are considered geniuses of the form. Everyone else phones it in after whiles of varying length. Some have been phoning it in for so long that no-one remembers when, if ever, the strips were new and funny.
posted by the sobsister at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2006

And yet Andy Capp remains funny! Bravo, you drunken wife-beater, you!
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:19 AM on March 8, 2006

Cheese gives you crazy dreams? Who knew!
posted by malaprohibita at 9:47 AM on March 8, 2006

Great links, Astro Zombie. Thanks!

(Andy Capp is just a ConAgra shill. I like my dailies nsfw.)
posted by maryh at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2006

I love Winsor McCay and have a Little Nemo collection already, but where can I get a collection of Little Ego?
posted by davros42 at 2:58 PM on March 8, 2006

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