The Com­plete Lit­tle Nemo

No, you’re not dreaming – af­ter 110 years of ad­ven­turess in py­ja­mas, this re­ally is as com­plete as it gets

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Reviews -

The oth­er­worldly ad­ven­tures of the cu­ri­ous child known as Lit­tle Nemo have long been di­vorced from any con­scious pop­u­lar­ity in our cul­ture. The clas­sic se­ries’ first stum­bling block for many will stem from sim­ply be­ing so de­cid­edly Amer­i­can, but also the strips have been all but forgotten about in the cen­tury since Nemo’s rise to great­ness.

This makes this im­pres­sively gi­gan­tic com­pre­hen­sive pack­age very much a spe­cialised pur­chase. But even a flick through th­ese pages (per­haps re­quir­ing the as­sis­tance of a stronger mem­ber of your house­hold) equally proves that Lit­tle Nemo’s in­flu­ence on comic and fan­tasy art is de­serv­ing of this lav­ish and lov­ing treat­ment.

There was a time when few fol­low­ers of popular cul­ture would need a thumb­nail sketch of Lit­tle Nemo, on ei­ther side of the At­lantic, but in 2015, the sleepy tot’s ad­ven­tures are redo­lent of a long-lost world. If any­thing, cre­ator Win­sor McCay is now re­mem­bered more for his pi­o­neer­ing 1914 an­i­ma­tion of Ger­tie the Di­nosaur than his strip most cel­e­brated at the time. But this just makes this col­lec­tion all the more pre­cious, con­tain­ing as it does as ex­haus­tive a trea­sury of the comic odyssey as can be achieved, painstak­ingly pieced to­gether from the artist’s own ar­chives, and with the help of an army of fans and col­lec­tors.

The most cel­e­brated for­mat for the strips book-ended a wildly fan­tas­ti­cal adventure through a dream­scape with the tit­u­lar child ly­ing in bed, ul­ti­mately be­ing grate­ful that ‘it was all a dream!’ This de­vice, seen as a cheap get-out in mod­ern pop cul­ture, en­abled Win­sor to de­vise and pi­lot some of the most in­no­va­tive tech­niques in comic book de­sign, and a level of artistry we all too eas­ily take for granted th­ese days. More than 100 years on, only the most knowl­edge­able comic fans can re­call what made Nemo’s dreams so great.

The ac­com­pa­ny­ing his­tory of the se­ries is beau­ti­fully laid out as a re­lay of cod newsprint ar­ti­cles, and cov­ers the whole sweep of Nemo’s ad­ven­tures in Slum­ber­land, right up to mod­ern car­toon adap­ta­tions, Simp­sons ref­er­ences and a Nemo-themed Google doo­dle. But it’s the ti­tanic-sized trea­sury it­self that will mark out the truly ded­i­cated comic book afi­cionado from the ca­sual fan. Keep an eye on the price, and splurge when it low­ers.

Win­sor McCay’s comic started in the New York Her­ald in 1905, moved to New York Amer­i­can in 1911, and went back to the Her­ald 1924.

A strip from April 1926, where Nemo joins the cir­cus and per­forms in a “dar­ing eques­trian ex­hi­bi­tion”.

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