Tag Archives: Slumberland

The Saturday Comics: Little Nemo in Slumberland

11 Feb

February 11, 2012

This is easily one of the most revered and influential comic strips ever to grace the newspaper. Little Nemo may not be a household word today (and indeed, it wasn’t in its own time either) but after the gallery I’ll attach a couple of modern homages you may recognize.

From wikipedia, whose Little Nemo entry is unusually  pretty good:

Little Nemo is the main fictional character in a series of weekly comic strips by Winsor McCay that appeared in the New York Herald and William Randolph Hearst’s New York American newspapers from October 15, 1905 – July 23, 1911 and September 3, 1911 – July 26, 1914; respectively.

The strip was first called Little Nemo in Slumberland and then In the Land of Wonderful Dreams when it changed papers. A brief revival of the original title occurred from 1924-27.

Although a comic strip, it was far from a simple children’s fantasy; it was often dark, surreal, threatening, and even violent. The strip related the dreams of a little boy: Nemo (meaning “nobody” in Latin), the hero. The last panel in each strip was always one of Nemo waking up, usually in or near his bed, and often being scolded (or comforted) by one of the grownups of the household after crying out in his sleep and waking them. In the earliest strips, the dream event that woke him up would always be some mishap or disaster that seemed about to lead to serious injury or death, such as being crushed by giant mushrooms, being turned into a monkey, falling from a bridge being held up by “slaves”, or gaining 90 years in age. The adventures leading to these disasters all had a common purpose: to get to a place called Slumberland, where he had been summoned by King Morpheus, to be the “playmate” of his daughter, the Princess.

Sometime during early 1906, Nemo did indeed reach the gates of Slumberland, but had to go through about four months of troubles to reach the Princess. His problem was that he kept being awakened by Flip, who wore a hat with “Wake Up” written on it. One sight of Flip’s hat was enough to take Nemo back to the land of the living during these early days. Although at first an enemy, Flip went on to become one of the recurring heroes. The others included: Dr. Pill, The Imp, the Candy Kid and Santa Claus as well as the Princess and King Morpheus.

The “Slumberland” of the title soon acquired a double meaning, referring not only to Morpheus’s fairy kingdom, but to the state of sleep itself: Nemo would have dream-adventures in other imaginary lands, on the Moon and Mars, and in our own “real” world, made fantastic by the dream-state.

 

 

 

 

 

Of all of the various tributes and homages, this next strip may be my favorite. It is a page from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, itself one of the most revered and influential comics of recent times. although taken out of context, I think the page makes its point perfectly. the characters are all from DC Comics/Vertigo.

And lastly, everyone’s favorite, Spongebob Squarepants!

 

 

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