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Windsor McKay was more than ‘Little Nemo’

There is a must read on Windsor McKay and the incredible breadth of work that he did. I was not aware that he had created anything other than “Little Nemo,” but he had a successful strip called “The Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend” which was more dark and for an adult reader. He was also an editorial cartoonist and at the time paid a salary that rivaled a Hollywood leading actor.

Frequently tackling sexual and religious taboos, “Rarebit Fiend,” which ran until 1913, made a daring claim: All it takes is some cheese and suddenly the unseemly underside of conventional social life becomes visible.

Besides the fact that both strips were about nocturnal adventures, it’s difficult to reconcile “Little Nemo” and “Rarebit Fiend.” Whereas “Little Nemo” is predominately a visual strip, marred by stilted dialogue and a vapid lead character, “Rarebit Fiend”-perhaps the most bizarre newspaper feature in American history, a daily dip into the netherworld of the human psyche-gets its bite from its sharply etched portrait of duplicity and self-deception. Perhaps too sharply etched: Apparently we’d prefer to remember McCay as a harmless fantasist, not as a penetrating critic of social life.

I was able to find a Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend book on Amazon that looks interesting.

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