Rarebit Fiend

by John Holbo on November 11, 2007

Josh Glenn has a great little slideshow for you, in the Boston Globe. His worthy theme: Winsor McCay’s classic early comic strip, “Dream of a Rarebit Fiend” [1904-1913]. (McCay is more famous for Little Nemo. You’ve certainly heard of that one.) The occasion: a lavish new edition, The Complete Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, all the strips reprinted for the first time at full size; edited and annotated by some fanatic by the name of Ullrich Merkl. Here’s the book page. You can download substantial samples (PDF). Looks nice, though pricey. (Older editions [amazon] are in print as well.)


As I was saying: Josh’s little slideshow – with voiceover – documents the influence of “Rarebit Fiend” on five later films: L’Age D’Or, King Kong, Dumbo, Mary Poppins, Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I guess Glenn is taking his cue from Merkl’s work. I deem it well worth 3 minutes and 31 seconds of your time.

Speaking of the shift from print cartooning to film, Winsor McCay, if you don’t know, is pretty much the God-Grandfather of the animated cartoon. He was one of the very first (the very first?), and hand-drew every damn frame, apparently. (With an occasional assistant.) And he did these vaudeville tours in which he lectured and interacted with the films. Obviously the joke is to synchronize your patter with the film itself. YouTube has it all: “Little Nemo” (1911) (but you have to wait until, like, 8:30 minutes in for the actual animation to start.) “Gertie the Dinosaur” (1914); and “Gertie on Tour” (1921); “How a Mosquito Operates” (1912); and some other stuff, too. Gertie the Dinosaur has the distinction of being the first made-for-animation character, I believe.

Last but not least, Josh Glenn himself has a fun new book out: Taking Things Seriously [amazon] – I’ll get around to reviewing that one. Basically, he invited people to submit their objects. And so they did.

Norm Enforcement, Or Not

by Kieran Healy on November 11, 2007

From the Dept of People Who Will Be First Against The Wall When The Revolution Comes: the recurring case of business travelers who think they are being so _frequent flyer sharp_ by using the Disabled/Family restroom instead of the regular one. Example: me this afternoon in O’Hare, near the H gates, standing for several minutes with my increasingly upset three year old daughter outside the door marked with a Parent & Child icon and labeled “Family and Assisted Care Restroom.” Spacious restrooms for unaccompanied men and women are provided on either side. O’Hare even has self-cleaning toilet seats that extrude a fresh plastic cover after every use. Eventually, and inevitably, Mr Cheap _Big & Tall Warehouse_ Suit emerges with his rolly bag. He looks down at me. “Hey mate,” I say, “Did you just flush your kid away in there? Or your wheelchair maybe?” He goggles. I go in.

As norm enforcement this was probably ineffective, not least because the guy was five or six inches taller than me and weighted about 280lbs. He didn’t look as though he was inclined to take orders from anyone, except maybe his regional widget distribution manager. But then again there can be a payoff in satisfaction to even ineffective sanctioning.