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Little Nemo in Slumberland, So Many Splendid Sundays [Hardcover]

Winsor McCay , Peter Maresca
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Sunday Press Books (Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976888505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976888505
  • Product Dimensions: 53.4 x 41.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,544,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so many splendid pages 24 Aug 2007
Format:Hardcover
This is the best example of art reproduction i own. My collection includes many 'luxury hardbacks' - the Russ Cochran EC Horror sets to name a few, but So Many Splendid Sundays goes way beyond the norm in quality. The broad sheet pages have been cleaned-up but not altered in any way and the printing is done with subtlety and care. The whole book has the feel of a labour of love. If you are a Little Nemo fan you will definitely not regret purchasing this book!
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Many Splendid Delights 7 Oct 2005
By Gilbert Klein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is the one. I was made aware of Winsor McKay's Little Nemo in the late 1970's, and have been a fan ever since. I've been amazed at how far ahead of the curve McKay was, and how much of an influence he was on so much art so much after his demise.

The adventures of Little Nemo were wonderful- by that I mean full of wonder. The colors were bold- way bolder for his day than anyone else. The panels blew off the limitations of convention as McKay left the restrictions of flat panels behind, letting the story demand its own, unique and innovative visual perspectives. Uh-oh- I'm sounding like an academic here, and I'm not. I'm a Little Nemo enthusiast and I'll let the experts explain in laborious detail what I cannot.

What I can explain is that Nemo was a startling experiment in his time, and if you want a definitive book that will allow you access to his adventures in Slumberland, then this is the one. If you want a more comprehensive overview, I guess Canemaker is your man. Canemaker's is a great book, too, and has the biographical details. This book has enough text for you to understand the strip in the context of its time, but lets the art speak for itself. This is the best book I've ever seen for the sheer joy of Little Nemo.

This is the only book that reproduces the comics in full size, and the editor swears that he has taken all the necessary pains to get the colors right. I will take his word for it, as I have only seen Nemo in other books and in preserved strips of the day, and who knows what the original colors were? Mr. Maresca has sworn that he took the time to get the colors right, and they are fantastic. And seeing it in its original size is a revelation. Nemo was magical, the Harry Potter of his day.

I have collected Nemo books and emphemera, and this is the one that is the most...exciting. Another bonus for me is that it has strips that I've never seen before. And the strips are reproduced in sequence when sequence is important, so a story can play out over several weekly installments. This is a big, oversized delight, and if you can't enjoy Nemo, you can't enjoy Shrek or The Incredibles. Says me.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing - wish there was more 19 Oct 2005
By Nemo Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I had read about the size of this book, but I was truly surprised by just how large it was in my hands. It's essentially the size of entire front page of a paper like the New York Times (length-wise and width-wise). It really has to be seen (or held) to be believed. Aside from being difficult to carry on the subway and having difficulty figuring out where to put it on my shelf, the size is much appreciated.

As for the inside, the images have been reproduced and cleaned-up with such loving care, it is truly amazing. While there is little information on the life of Winsor McCay, other books out there have thoroughly discussed it (the Canemaker McCay book with Sendak introduction is worth getting for those interested). Around 100 of Maresca's favourites have been chosen to represent Nemo, some of them being the most complex of McCay's Little Nemo series.

My only regret is that there is not more. The editor has indicated that he will not release another volume, but I wish he would reconsider. A few years back, Fantagraphics released six books of all of Little Nemo's exploits, but those books, while nicely done, reproduce Nemo in smaller format, and they have long since gone out of print (as will this book soon I'm sure). Further, as Maresca chose 100 of the best pages, what little continuity exists in Little Nemo is somewhat lost. Granted, each Sunday's adventure was often independent of the previous Sunday's, but not always.

Regardless, Maresca has done an incredible job and should be commended for helping preserve some of the most incredible work by an underappreciated American artist. Surprisingly, Maresca could not get a publisher to take on this project, such that it was self-published. Hopefully this edition will do well, and there will be more to come either from Maresca or a publisher who realizes that a full-sized complete reproduction of McCay's work would be a worthwhile and profitable task to undertake.
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from The Palm Beach Post 3 Dec 2005
By Michael C. Browning - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Beautiful dreamer: Winsor McCay's 'Little Nemo in Slumberland'

By Michael Browning

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, December 02, 2005

Winsor McCay dreamed in rainbows, rainbows almost measurelessly

large and lovely, shapes outswept in perfect perspective across

spacious pages of newsprint in a Sunday comic strip that is still

regarded as a sustained pinnacle of fantastic design and

imagination: Little Nemo in Slumberland.

He did it a hundred years ago, from 1905 to 1912, before TV, almost

before movies, when the comic strip itself was only eight years old,

and was regarded as just a gag and a novelty. He worked modestly and

dutifully all his life, drawing, drawing, drawing, riding the El

train from Sheepshead Bay to Manhattan every day, laboring in a

shabby office, always wearing his hat, even indoors, even while

working.

He was silently working wonders. Practically plotless as a dream

itself, Little Nemo is today regarded as the most beautiful work of

graphic art ever to appear in a newspaper.

The mechanics of it were simple. It would begin with a fanciful

frame, exquisitely drawn. Then McCay would go to town, building the

fancy to impossible heights, ever-more-marvelous reaches of visual

imagery, until at last the whole thing collapses and, in a tiny

frame at the lower right-hand corner, Little Nemo wakes up and

realizes it was all a dream.

It was visually astounding. It still is. Yet people wrapped fish in

McCay's masterpieces; they lit stoves with his pages. Little Nemo

was never much appreciated at the time it appeared, though today

original printed pages go for $30,000 or more.

Now, thanks to an extraordinary new book, it is possible to

appreciate what McCay had in mind, what he wrought. A selection of

the best of his work, actual size, has come out at last. Nemo hasn't

looked this glorious in a hundred years.

Peter Maresca, a former Apple computer designer who idolizes McCay,

has published at his own expense a huge handsome book, Little Nemo

in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays!, which costs $120.

Done to honor McCay on the centenary of Little Nemo's first

appearance in print, the mega-volume measures 21 inches by 16 inches

and weighs more than 8 pounds. It was printed in Malaysia, on paper

laboriously sought out from Japan. It is so big it had to be

hand-bound. It exceeded the capacity of commercial bindery machines.

It reproduces faithfully, and in their original size, McCay's

astounding visions in color and reproduces them "down to the last

pixel," the publisher says.

"This shows you the insanity of my mind," Maresca said. "I wanted to

get the exact look of the newsprint. I didn't want pristine white

borders, and I didn't want the yellowed Scotch-taped effect. So we

took five background pages and blended them to get the right visual

texture, the grays and greens that real newsprint has, and then we

had to blow it up twice to get the exact grain. I wanted a very

authentic background."

Even after a century, the splendor of McCay's work has the power to

take your breath away. His huge, columned, sapphire-domed,

night-clad cityscapes, his fantastic beasts, sparkling ice-caves,

outsized butterflies, tremendous fireworks, dizzying perspectives,

his giants, his gems, his multicolored mushrooms and airships and

skyscrapers and elephants -- all these were outpoured weekly in a

tremendous, wide-irised, full-spectrum rush of perfect draftsmanship

that still exceeds the special effects in most movies today.

"He anticipates the wide screen," Maresca said. "He loved the

theater. He captures a lot of the exploding technology of his time.

He was working when the Wright brothers invented the airplane, when

the New York subway system was being built."

Nowadays Nemo is revered by illustrators like Maurice Sendak, whose

magic island in Where the Wild Things Are owes a debt to McCay's

Slumberland. He also influenced Bill Watterson, whose Calvin and

Hobbes also has a small boy who dreams wild dreams.

At the time, though, it was just one more comic strip in a host of

high-quality offerings being put out daily by furiously warring New

York newspapers. It was never syndicated. It played only in New

York.

"It never was all that popular," said Mickey Finn cartoonist Morris

Weiss, 90, of West Palm Beach, who met McCay in New York in 1934,

the year before the artist died. "It never really took off. It was

too whimsical."

Weiss was scarcely 20, McCay was nearly 68 when the two met. McCay

died shortly afterward, in July 1935.

"He was a slight man, very quiet. He always wore his hat while

working," Weiss remembered. "He didn't have a big, palatial office.

"He was very nice to me. He gave me an original of one of his

political cartoons. If you look at it, it's incredibly detailed. You

look at something like that up close and you think: 'Wow, the

effort! The work!' But if you're a cartoonist, that's what you do.

It isn't work. You are completely into it, and you do it."

McCay was born Sept. 27, 1867, in Spring Lake, Mich. He was the son

of an indulgent merchant-father who early recognized his talent.

"I never saw a tramway or an electric light before the age of 15,"

McCay said later. "But I loved to draw."

An art professor named John Goodeson taught McCay the power of

perspective. His lessons would result in some of the most dazzling

drawings in newspaper history. Using perspective, McCay was able to

suggest limitless distance in the space of a few inches.

The young man went to Detroit and became a quick-sketch artist in a

local "Dime Museum," a sort of vaudeville fun-house. He enjoyed the

applause and for the rest of his life would seek fame and public

approval that always seemed to elude him by a hair's breadth.

At one point McCay was doing three separate comic strips a week as

well as appearing in a nightly vaudeville show, where the audience

would challenge him to draw anything in a few seconds. He would. He

was a slave to his pencil.

He went to Chicago in 1889, Cincinnati in 1891 and New York in 1903.

There he would work at a pace so prodigious, turning out drawings so

prolifically, that their sheer volume is still staggering. They were

all done from scratch: No celluloid overlays, no Adobe Photoshop.

Just ink.

He began with strips titled The Jungle Imps, Mr. Goodenough,

Sister's Little Sister's Beau and The Phurious Phinish of Phoolish

Philip's Phunny Phrolics. McCay finally arrived with Little Sammy

Sneeze, a running gag strip that built up to a huge climax in which

a child would sneeze and blow everything and everyone away.

He struck a vein in 1904 with Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend, which

presages Little Nemo and which purists still consider his cleverest

work. Every strip begins with an ordinary situation, which gradually

gets warped, magnified, pushed and shoved out of all recognition. In

the last frame, the hapless dreamer awakens and swears never to eat

Welsh rarebit (a toasted cheese sandwich) again.

The crazy dream, followed by the rude awakening, became the pattern

for Little Nemo In Slumberland, McCay's masterpiece, which debuted

on Oct. 15, 1905.

The first strip began with Nemo flying through the air in a

snowstorm, meeting strange winged animals including a kangaroo. The

very second episode was one of McCay's masterpieces, reproduced in

the new book: A forest of multicolored mushrooms whose tall stalks

break at last and whose caps fall in a soft avalanche. The third

episode had Nemo surrounded by storks on impossibly tall, glassy

legs that gradually become entangled chaotically.

On it went, getting more and more magnificent. The modest little

draftsman from Michigan produced Nemo every week for just over seven

years, ending on Dec. 29, 1912.

As time went by, Nemo gradually took on social issues, going to Mars

in a huge, beautiful airship where he finds that a rich mogul has

bought up all the air and charges people to breathe it.

"You have to buy your words," said Maresca of that particular story.

"The culture is completely overcrowded and polluted on Mars. On air

vending machines you have signs like 'CUSS WORDS WILL NOT BE SOLD TO

MINORS.' People are shipped off to work in tin cans. I find it not

unlike the times we are living in now."

The air-monopolizing Mars-mogul was a subversive comment on the

excesses of the Gilded Age, when huge amounts of wealth seemed

concentrated in the hands of a very few people. One of them,

publisher William Randolph Hearst, was to become McCay's employer.

He clipped the cartoonist's wings gently, directing him to do

political cartoons on subjects that Hearst decreed. Nemo was

resurrected in paler and paler versions as late as 1924 to 27, but

the brilliant fire of the early strips looked more and more like

embers.

McCay meekly obeyed all his bosses. The last part of his career was

a falling-off. He showed up for work each day, put in his hours,

drew industriously. But apart from a foray into animated film (his

Gertie the Dinosaur was one of the first cartoon movies), he never

again produced anything as fantastic as Little Nemo.

The first 5,000-copy press run of So Many Splendid Sundays is

already practically sold out, with orders coming in rapidly from

everywhere, France in particular.

"I'm having to ration them out," Maresca said. "I'm trying to be

fair. If demand warrants, I will try to do a second printing late

this winter."

"This heartbreakingly beautiful book... " "This stunning volume... "

"This beautifully done book... " ù cartoonists Art Spiegelman, Garry

Trudeau and Patrick McDonnell have raved over the new, gigantic

reprint.

There is a sense of justice at work here. At long last, thanks to

modern computer technology and Maresca's own personal collection of

McCay pages, it is possible to time-travel back to those splendid

Sundays when you could buy a masterpiece for a few cents.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reprinted as it should be. 7 Oct 2005
By Arnaud Wirschell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
These are the best reprints of Little Nemo I have ever seen. The paper is off-white, the colors are bright - there is no need to buy the original sheets from hundred years ago any longer. But don't expect lesser known pages, they have all been reprinted by Remco and Fantagraphics before. We should all thank Peter Maresca for this labour of love. And McCay deserves it: between 1905 and 1910 he invented the grammar of the comic strip. His panels are not crowded with figures as in later years, the lay out is imaginative, and some early pages are really scary and subversive.

By the way, there's more underway: a German collector is preparing a large Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend book for all those people who think that the Checker reprints are a bit to small.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but it's more an art book than the story of Little Nemo 2 Dec 2005
By Arthur Rambo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Very good - and impressive - edition of Little Nemo in Slumberland. Beware however of the fact that the edition is not complete. It covers a subset (120) of the pages produced by Mc Cay between 1905 and 1910, and therefore does not sport the complete story of Little Nemo over this period. So if you want to buy the book as an art book, do not hesitate. It's gorgeous. If you want to buy the book to read the story of Little Nemo or to offer to a children, than you'd better look at other, older - and probably less visually appalling - editions of this classic.
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