The Complete Little Nemo
No, you’re not dreaming – after 110 years of adventuress in pyjamas, this really is as complete as it gets
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”.