The Moving Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend
September 10, 2007 9:03 PM   Subscribe

In 1921 comic strip artist Windsor McCay lay claim to the illustrious title Inventor of Animated Drawing on the title cards of his hand-drawn moving versions of Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend. Here are three of the delightful and funny animations:
The Pet
The Flying House
Bug Vaudeville

If anyone can locate and link to the first of these animated pieces, simply called Dream of a Rarebit Fiend, I'd be much obliged.

Please don't miss Astro Zombie's spectacular introduction to Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend (the comic strip) nor snarkout's excellent post on the origins of American animation; sadly, crunchland's background/work post on Windsor McCay is deadlinked.

Also of note is this 6-minute live action version of Dream of a Rarebit Fiend, directed by Edwin S. Porter (a man worthy of his own MeFi post, to be sure) in 1906. This short uses a radically innovative trick photography technique developed by Georges Méliès. Here's another (slightly longer) version of it set to a loopy Loony Tunes score.
posted by carsonb (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I know there's not a whole lot to say about these animations. They're old, and as such sorta crappy by today's standards. But there's a lot of history wrapped up in them, and swirling around their creation. Watching these films excites me, and I imagine it's nearly the way these creative geniuses felt when making them. If you feel that way too, even the least bit, then this post is an unqualified success. Thanks.
posted by carsonb at 9:20 PM on September 10, 2007

There is, however, something to say about how to do a post on topics previously linkloved hereabouts. Executed with the grace of McKay's own line, carsonb.
posted by mwhybark at 9:22 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

His Gertie the Dinosaur is also considered to be one of the first animated cartoon---the wikipedia entry has the google video link.
posted by brujita at 9:26 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Gertie's also available at the LoC's Origins of American Animations site, which was the topic of snarkout's previous post.
posted by carsonb at 9:30 PM on September 10, 2007

The Flying House link should lead here. The attention to realistic detail is amazing.
posted by imposster at 9:30 PM on September 10, 2007

This is the link to The Flying House I meant to include. Oops.
posted by carsonb at 9:33 PM on September 10, 2007

(Thanks for catching that, imposster.)
posted by carsonb at 9:34 PM on September 10, 2007

(The Flying House link in the post is fixed now, thanks admins!)
posted by carsonb at 10:09 PM on September 10, 2007

I'm happy to say that my copy of the newish bookified collection of the "Little Nemo in Slumberland" strips in their original size is one of my most prized possessions.
posted by trip and a half at 10:58 PM on September 10, 2007

Oh man, I love Windsor McCay. I have a copy of Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend that my step-mother happened to have written the back-cover biographical blurb for (long before she and my father met, much less married). I treasure it.

This is really terrific, and thank you!
posted by Nabubrush at 11:09 PM on September 10, 2007

Cheers, Nabubrush.

Let me be the first to point out a glaring mistake, however: I've spelled Winsor's name wrong nearly every time I've typed it.
posted by carsonb at 11:24 PM on September 10, 2007

Great post; thanks! As my username (and the domain name of my blog) might indicate, I have a special interest in McKay's work. The broken link in crunchland's old post you mentioned above is probably here now.
posted by litlnemo at 12:11 AM on September 11, 2007

Great post. Thank you!
posted by brundlefly at 3:07 AM on September 11, 2007

Yup, love him.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:58 AM on September 11, 2007

i love these--thanks!
posted by amberglow at 6:40 AM on September 11, 2007

This is great stuff, thank you for posting it. Like George Herriman (Krazy Kat) McCay was an absolute original. It's wonderful to see Fantagraphics putting their work out in print too.
posted by Alec at 8:33 AM on September 11, 2007

Favorited. Thanks for these, and the well-crafted post. McCay was a spectacular draftsman. He supposedly had a photographic visual memory, and early in his newspaper career, before photographs were widely used, would go to the scene of some newsworthy event and come back and sketch it up for the evening edition.
posted by Bron at 11:05 AM on September 11, 2007

Ah, this evokes Jim Woodring's animations in the corner of the Whole Earth Review. Winsor McKay=Woodring sans psychedelics, although McKay does some wonderfully strange stuff.

I'll shut up now.
posted by mecran01 at 10:54 PM on September 11, 2007

Obviously, I'm a fan.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:15 PM on September 14, 2007

Welcome, RF! Are you a brand-new Mefite, or is this just a new handle on you?
posted by carsonb at 11:48 PM on September 14, 2007

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