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The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland: 1905-07 v. 1 Hardcover – 1 Apr 1989
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The "Little Nemo in Slumberland" comics in this book originally appeared in the "New York Herald" Sunday color supplement from October 15, 1905 to March 31, 1907 and are faithfully reproduced in their original colors from rare, vintage file-copy pages in the hands of a few choice collectors. There is even a special strip that appeared in the European edition of the "Herald" that was never printed in the U.S. The strip continued until 1911 and those strips are published in the other volumes in this series. In these early adventures Little Nemo first enters Slumberland and learns to cope with his unpredictable flying bed, pursues the beautiful Princess of Slumber, searches for the castle of King Morpheus, and endures the ministrations of Dr. Pill. Nemo also meets up with the devilish Flip, a green-faced clown in a plug hat and ermine collared jacket, who starts off always trying to summon the Dawn and wake Nemo from his dreams but then becomes our little heroes boon companion in his Slumberland adventures which involved an impressive array of strange giants, beautiful mermaids, humongous elephants, mysterious space creatures, exotic parades, fantastic dirigible rides, a jolly green dragon, and anything else McCay could imagine.
By both artistic and historical standards "Little Nemo in Slumberland" is the first truly great comic strip. When you look at the great strips that followed, such as George Herriman's "Krazy Kat," George McManus' "Bringing Up Father," Bud Fisher's "Mutt and Jeff," and Frank King's "Gasoline Alley," they are all decidedly different from what McCay was doing, although the use of "art nouveau" interiors and zany byplay by McManus is clearly an homage to "Little Nemo" as far as I am concerned. There is a sense in which those who see nothing similar appearing on the funny pages until Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes" have a point, although I would acknowledge Snoopy's imaginative life in "Peanuts" as well.
This volume includes "Perchance to Dream," an essay by Richard Marschall, who I think was the single biggest contributor of the strips reprinted in this volume. The essay provides a concise summary of McCay's life and career, with examples of some of his earlier work, "Little Nemo" postcards, and an incredibly detailed editorial cartoon. But the most important thing is that Marschall's efforts have preserved the premier American comic strip for the enjoyment of posterity. There has never been a more magical comic strip. Never.
If this material is not made available pressure should be exerted somewhere, maybe with the Smithsonian, to release new editions. The lack of availability is almost criminal: like finding out that Don Quixote's gone out of print or something. Really, I'm not being hyperbolic. For all the interest there is in comic art these days, all the Manga, Fantastic Fours and graphic novels, this has to be accepted as the medium's Shakespeare.
for the eyes. His eye for detail gives us a window to the early days of the 20th Century. The characters are completly fantastic. He was decades ahead of his time.