Day #11: On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prancer, On... Nemo?

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated December 24, 1905:


Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (June 7, 2020):


It's Christmas Eve, 1905! #LittleNemo is snug in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing o'erhead! When all of a sudden he hears a clatter and has to get up to see what is the matter! - 1/17

A very… familiar beginning conceit to this particular strip; one that you can find in just about any children's storybook about Christmas Eve… which, admittedly, puts it in very good company. Not a criticism, just an observation. - 2/17

I really love the top tier (a single horizontal panel this time!) with the strip's name chiselled into the frosty icicles that hang from the panel's "ceiling" (hyperframe). - 3/17

I use this analogy of the "roof" as frame and "ceiling" as hyperframe with my students whenever we discuss spatial design/framing rhetoric and I've found it helps to clarify. This is a good example that I need to add to the toolkit! - 4/17

McCay really does a good job of blending the real/surreal here… the setting is so mundane. It could be any Northern area of the world complete with Walrus and Polar Bears! But it's also magical because… well, Santa. - 5/17

The conversation between Santa's Helper and Santa is very interesting… they seem to have a plan, but it isn't revealed. In fact, it isn't DIRECTLY provided at all throughout the whole strip. It's up to the reader to use the linguistic and pictorial clues to put together the plan. - 6/17

That Santa has been enlisted into getting Nemo to Slumberland speaks to the significance of the event. King Morpheus certainly has friends in high places if he can get Santa to do his bidding. - 7/17

The plan, as I understand it, is to trick Nemo into holding onto the reins of the magical reindeer while Santa delivers presents at his house. Then, the reindeer dash off "for some reason known only to themselves"…and Santa! - 8/17

The "reason" that the reindeer's begin to rush away when Nemo takes control is, it seems to me, because Santa has instructed them to do so and to get Nemo to Slumberland as fast as they can! - 9/17

Maybe Santa forgot to get the Princess a gift and thought that Nemo would suffice? Regardless, this trickery matches Santa's earlier declaration about "the only way to get him to Slumberland." - 10/17

I must admit some disappointment with this Christmas-y strip. It's doesn't even come close to replicating the splendor and magic of yesterday/the week before's strip and leans far too heavily on linguistic narration. - 11/17

I know this is an early strip, and McCay is still working out the kinks, but the pictorial elements of are completely superfluous… you could understand the entire narrative perfectly by just reading the captions. - 12/17

This isn't a new criticism for the strip as I've noticed it before, but it's very prevalent in this one. - 13/17

The final two tiers remind me of strip #1 with the single colour backgrounds and the speeding of the reindeer (in place of Somnus). It's a nice call back! That McCay plays with how Nemo falls off these speeding animals is also clever. - 14/17

In the first strip, Nemo fell over Somnus' head. In this strip, Nemo cannot hold onto the reindeer and falls off the back of the sleigh and gets caught on the weathervane. - 15/17

I do somewhat feel bad for Nemo in the final panel of the strip… his papa could be a little more understanding considering it is Christmas Eve and he's an excited little boy… BUT, this is a pretty common thing for Nemo so his parents must be exhausted! - 16/17

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland #11". What's yours? - 17/17