Brain-openers in illustration depict the human head spiked or sucked, opened up, overflowing or downright exploding. Today, the result is picture rhyme.
2  Brain tap. An enormous mosquito gorges himself on a drinker’s head. Winsor McCay signing as Silas, in a page of his ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’ strip series (detail), published in various American newspapers, this dream on Saturday, June 5.
3  Brain tap. A giant mosquito gorges himself on a sitting man’s head. Winsor McCay, in a page of his ‘Midsummer Day Dreams’ strip series (detail), published in various American newspapers.
4  Brain blast. A frustrated dentist resorts to blowing up his patient’s head. Édouard Chevret, in page 14 of his 38-page French comic strip novel ‘La Perroquettomanie,’ self-published.
5  Brain smokers. Addlebrained addicts smoke out their brains to the tune of scorched old fiddler Nick-Otin. Fully titled ‘Old Nick-Otin Stealing “Away the Brains” of His Devotees’, a captioned cartoon in woodcut by N.N., in the London weekly Punch, Saturday, January 16, page 21.
6  Brain blast. A sneezing man’s head explodes. Winsor McCay signing as Silas, in a page of his ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’ strip series (detail).
7  Brain blast. Showered with compliments, the head of strip maker “Silas” gets bigger and bigger until it explodes. Winsor McCay signing as Silas, full page of his ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’ strip series, Thursday, November 22.
8  Brain blast. A new way to graft trees blows a botanist’s top off. Christophe, in ‘Fantaisies de botaniste,’ captioned cartoon in the French weekly Soleil du Dimanche.
9 [c.1890] Brain mug. Cartoon of a man with steaming character mug (detail) by Adolf Öberlander, in the Munich weekly Fliegende Blätter.
10 [c.1901] Brain jug. Ceramic character jug in variable brown glaze, Martin Bros., London and Southall.
11  Brain stretch. A man’s head becomes a putty-like mass of jelly. Winsor McCay signing as Silas, in his ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’ strip series (detail), Saturday, September 26.
12  Brain-opener. One of many English celebrities exposed by Phil May – this one titled ‘The Duke of Cambridge’ – number 15 (not 14) in his series of caricatures ‘On the Brain,’ published in the London weekly Pick-Me-Up, September 12.
13  Brain-opener. ‘Mr. Punch’ by Phil May, in his series ‘On the Brain,’ in the London weekly Pick-Me-Up.
14  Brain-opener. ‘Sir Edward Lawson’ by Phil May, in his series ‘On the Brain,’ in the London weekly Pick-Me-Up.
15  Brain-opener. An absentminded man takes the lid of his head to count his marbles. Winsor McCay signing as Silas, full page of his ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’ strip series, Thursday, October 25.
16  Brain paint. ‘Inspiration,’ self-portrait by German illustrator-painter Heinrich Kley, in his picture book ‘Leut’ und Viecher,’ Bavarian/Austrian dialect which translates to ‘People and [crazy] Animals,’ page 13.
17  Brain fill. ‘Filling Ingot Molds’ by Russian-American illustrator-caricaturist Boris Artzybasheff. Detail of full-page illustration from the ‘Machinalia’ chapter in his picture book ‘As I See.’
18 [c.1950] Brain-opener. American comic strip author Fred Laswell presents his strip character Snuffy Smith in a self-caricature, ‘Fred Lasswell by hisse’f.’
19  Brain-opener. American cartoonist Vip (Virgil Partch), self-caricature on the cover of his Gold Medal picture pocket book ‘Cartoons Out of My Own Head.’
20  Brain blast. “Chief scientist of Alias Wavefront Bill Buxton demonstrates what Maya, cheaper than before though still ridiculously expensive, can do in this ad that probably didn’t make it onto TV from the looks of it. VFX by Topix.” See the one minute video HERE.
A special Note of Thanks to: Ulrich Merkl, Antoine Sausverd, Mike Lynch, Ianus Keller and François Caradec, plus virginia.edu, carters.com.au, gallica.bnf.france, coconino-world.com