Day #10: Little Nemo Visits Santa Claus' Palace

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated December 17, 1905:


Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (June 6, 2020):


Merry Christmas, everyone! Don't tell #LittleNemo that it's June because he's perfectly content looking around at the wonders of Santa Claus' palace! - 1/29

I need to start by saying that I absolutely love this strip… I'm going to try not to gush too much about how aesthetically beautiful that I find it, but my bias may come out at times… be warned. - 2/29

Let's start with the gorgeously stylized triptych at the top tier. By now, this is a common trope for #LittleNemo strips, but here McCay does something special. - 3/29

Placing the "Little Nemo" (above panel 1) and "in Slumberland" (below panel 3) on different planes adds to the visual appeal and makes for an interesting effect! - 4/29

The frames are also impressively detailed and I think there's a neat commentary being made with panel rhetoric here: The ornamental frame could be said to contain Santa's magic within the confines of the panels and ensures it doesn't escape into the gutter. - 5/29

This is the first time that McCay has used this type of ornamentally styled framing rhetoric and I think the fact that the panel content includes, perhaps, the most magical being in existence says something meaningful about the inclusion. - 6/29

Now, Nemo also does something very special in this strip; he overcomes his fear! - 7/29

In strips past, when Nemo decides that he doesn't "care to go any further" he inevitably does something silly (like letting go of the whale way back in strip #4) and ends up in a right catastrophe that wakes him up. - 8/29

Last strip, we saw Nemo act at something (knighthood) that he wasn't able to actually manifest (because of his fear of the dragon), which resulted in his falling down the stairs. His FEAR was what held him back in both instances.- 9/29

This time, Nemo decides not to be afraid and continues the journey across the ice. Maybe it's the allure of seeing Santa Claus' palace (what little boy WOULDN'T want to see the workshop… I sort of still do…) that increases his bravery… - 10/29

…but, regardless, this strip marks the first time that he presses on without letting his fear (or impulsiveness) get the better of him in some way. - 11/29

Now, before I talk about the content, I want to mention the panel layout from 9-13 (captioned 6-10). The captions here were very helpful because my instinct was not to read them as he's organized them. - 12/29

The image with the black arrows depict how they are meant to be read as per the caption numbers. The image with the red arrows depicts my initial expected reading order. - 13/29 [images]

According to work done by @visual_linguist, I think that this layout would be best categorized as a sort of vertical staggering/blockage hybrid. - 14/29 [COHN IMAGE]

Because of the gutter placement, my mind wants to finish reading all of the left hand content (until we have a full uninterrupted horizontal gutter again) before moving to the right hand content. - 15/29

Again, I wonder if this is my modern-era sensibilities informing my reading expectations, but it doesn't really matter all that much because McCay has yet to move away from the numbered captions. - 16/29

This will become much more of an important conversation in a few days time when the captions fade away. - 17/29

Now, Santa's palace is architecturally stunning. It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful panels in all of the strip and rivals the reveal of Jack Frost's palace for me. - 18/29

This is one of the first time's that McCay just let's loose his Art Nouveau style and architectural prowess at the same time. The result is brilliant! - 19/29

Even the Reindeer stable is meticulously rendered with precision and detail. Sure, it's repetitive, but isn't it awesome (in the classical sense)? I particularly love the marble detailing on the support pillars. - 20/29

Nemo must also be equally awed by the place, because poor Icicle fails miserably at convincing Nemo to go to Slumberland. This is, of course, one of the worst plans to get him there… who would want to leave the North Pole for Slumberland? - 21/29

Surely, the positive experience that Nemo is having here should ingratiate King Morpheus and Slumberland to him after all of the hardship and frustration that Nemo (and the reader) have felt. As a result, this strip feels like a reward to me. - 22/29

It's interesting because we discussed this just yesterday; how McCay is relentless in teasing us about actually reaching Slumberland. I read this strip as a soft apology. A treat for those who have stuck with the journey. - 23/29

Just like Nemo gets to enjoy all of the wonderful sights, we get to follow along, as well. Had we given up in frustration, we wouldn't be here, just like if Nemo had turned back at the lake of ice, he wouldn't be here either. - 24/29

I really enjoy the moments where Nemo's experience and the reader's experience are aligned. There is something "magical" about it for me. - 25/29

A question that I had: Why is Icicle wearing what we would traditionally associate with Santa Claus, while the big man is in a new get-up? What's the purpose do we think? - 26/29

Finally, I love that Nemo's mother has to wake him up in this strip. Rather then having a nightmarish dream experience, Nemo is enjoying every moment of his surreal dreamworld. Of course he'd rather "sleep all day"; reality will never match surreality. - 27/29

This is a significant change in the strips M.O. and I think it aligns nicely with the idea that this strip is a reward to both Nemo and the reader. - 28/29

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" #10. What's yours? - 29/29