Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend | Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and MuseumBilly Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

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Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend

September 15 – December 1, 2005
Philip Sills Exhibit Hall
The Ohio State University
William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library
1858 Neil Avenue Mall, Columbus, Ohio

Oddball comic strips for adult readers were published long before Gary Larson created The Far Side. One of the most remarkable of these comics was Winsor McCay’s Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, which was published between 1904 and 1913. This exhibit highlights examples of this extraordinary comic strip from the collections of The Ohio State University’s Cartoon Research Library.

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend features a bizarre assortment of nightmares caused by overeating Welsh rarebit, a popular melted cheese dish. McCay’s biographer, John Canemaker, describes it as “one of the most sophisticated and witty comic strips ever created.”

At the time he was drawing Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, McCay was also beginning to work on animation, and the artwork of the comic strip demonstrates his experimentation with changing shapes and motion. As a result, the nightmare world McCay created far exceeds its predecessors visually. Exhibit goers will be amused and entertained by the century-old horrors he imagined.