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Sunday, November 11, 2007
I've produced another Brainiac audio slideshow, a print version of which appears in today's Ideas section. Click here to watch "Fiendishly Inspiring."
What is today's slideshow about? Not long ago, I blogged about "The Complete 'Dream of the Rarebit Fiend'," a gorgeous archival collection -- edited by independent scholar Ulrich Merkl -- of the wildly imaginative comic strip published in American newspapers from 1904 to 1911. "Rarebit Fiend" was written and drawn by Winsor McCay, who -- according to Merkl -- supplied many ideas later used in comic strips, animated cartoons, and movies. I found Merkl's case so convincing and amusing that I wanted to present it to Brainiac/Ideas readers myself. Now you know.
For example: The 1930 surrealist classic "L'Age d'Or," directed by Luis Buñuel, so outraged audiences that it was banned in France, and wasn't released in the United States until 1979. This is ironic, since the scenes in which a man kicks a dog, slaps a lady, beats a blind man, and throws a cleric out of the window bear a striking resemblance to a 1906 "Rarebit Fiend" episode in which a girl dreams that her father kicks a dog, slaps an elderly woman, beats a blind man, and throws his grandmother out of the window.
Merkl also points to scenes in "King Kong," "Dumbo," "Mary Poppins," and Tim Burton's 2005 film version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Now that every screenwriter in Hollywood is on strike, Merkl’s book, which is only available at www.rarebit-fiend-book.com, might come in handy.
PS: In January 2006, Ideas published an essay by Jeet Heer on "Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend." Heer was writing about another fine collection of McCay's work, titled "Dreams and Nightmares" (Fantagraphics).
PPS: Did you miss the first Brainiac audio slideshow? Check out "The Iconography of Boing Boing."