Day #14: Little Nemos Everywhere!

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated January 14, 1906:

Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (June 10, 2020):

Little Nemo wakes up to find his room overflowing with doppelgangers, which makes the Princess' arrival looking for him a tricky prospect. - 1/23

I feel as if there are pieces missing to this strip… for starters, what caused Nemo's replication? We're never told. Dooflap is dumbfounded when he arrives in Nemo's garden to announce the Princess and finds so many Nemos. - 2/23

It seems unlikely that this is Slumberland's doing because the confusion it creates ultimately causes Nemo to wake-up. Could it possibly be an example of Slumberland invading a normal dream instead? - 3/23

In past strips, Slumberland's involvement has occurred almost immediately from the moment we first see Nemo. Here, we get five panels of an innocuous and common dream before Dooflap's announcement. - 4/23

There are interesting implications here… If Slumberland is a dream kingdom that can only be reached while dreaming, then the dreamscape is not defined by Slumberland, but Slumberland is defined by the dreamscape. - 5/23

In the past, I've wondered if Slumberland (as McCay intended it) was coterminous with the dreamscape; that once Nemo fell asleep he had, in a way, already arrived at Slumberland and, by extension, so had we the moment we began reading the strip. - 6/23

Now, I'm not so sure… It seems as though the dreamscape has influence of events that even spoil the plans of Slumberland, meaning that the rules of the dream may be manipulated by Slumberland, but they are not designed by Slumberland. - 7/23

This makes me think back to the idea of the shadow creatures from Day #9 (Dec. 10, 1905)… @barpos and I had discussed their potential existence as "nightmare" creatures from another rival kingdom and, if the dreamscape is independent from Slumberland, then this theory makes some real sense. - 8/23 [INSERT IMAGE]

It is also not particularly clear how, or even if, Blopp, the royal elephant, knows that he has chosen Nemo correctly. From that mass of Nemos, it seems preposterous that Blopp would correctly, and coincidentally, choose the right one to make an example of. - 9/23

The strips final four panels are actually very intriguing. As Blopp, the royal elephant, throws Nemo over the garden wall he crashes through his window before making a Nemo sized indent in his bedroom wall and falling to the floor. - 10/23

Here, the reading pattern and gestural communication is a bit clunky. See how the reader is continuously asked to begin reading the motion of Nemo's body from the right side of the panel? - 11/23

The green arrow indicates the continuous reading of the panels from left to right, but, the red arrows indicate how the reader must read the motion of Nemo's body… it creates this odd stutter-step effect that lacks fluidity. - 12/23 [INSERT IMAGE]

Now, had McCay composed the strip so as to draw that final tier toss to be read left to right where both reading pattern and body motion moved continuously in that direction, the clunkiness would be removed and it would be a much more fluid experience. - 13/23

This would mean Nemo going over the wall and through the glass on the right side of the panel before smashing the wall and slumping to the floor. It's a small quibble, but something of a missed opportunity in my opinion. - 14/23

I also find this strip interesting for the fact that, finally, the Princess has decided to go to Nemo rather than wait for Nemo to come to her. It is a seemingly important moment here that demonstrates the Princess is not a passive character, but actually has some agency. - 15/23

That we see her this time upon an elephant carriage (replacing the dragon from strip #9) is probably a good choice considering how fearful Nemo was of the dragon. Then again, the dragon did not harm or threaten Nemo in any way, which cannot be said for the elephant. - 16/23

Whether intentionally or not, I like the commentary here (continuing the conversation we had about Magoozla) that Nemo must learn to trust Slumberlandians regardless of their physical appearance. - 17/23

In this case, while Nemo fears the dragon and not the elephant, it is in fact the less-fearful creature that causes him harm whereas the other one made no moves against him at all. - 18/23

Finally, there is another distasteful racial caricature in the form of Blopp's unnamed (and silent) driver. That he doesn't speak or utter any sound at all, even as he is being dislodged from his seat when Blopp winds up to throw Nemo, is telling. - 19/23

It seems as though his character exists in the strip only to be laughed at, reminiscent of McCay's "The Tale of the Jungle Imps", which saw similarly caricatured characters tease animals who, in response, evolved to protect themselves: - 20/23

That these strips always ended with the animal getting revenge on the Jungle Imps was exactly the point; readers were to root for the animals against the Jungle Imps and to laugh at them when they received their comeuppance. - 21/23

It seems that Blopp's driver plays a similar role here; he has no real impact on a strip that would be no worse off without his inclusion. In fact, I feel as though it actually brings an otherwise interesting strip down by overt association to the racial and ethnic prejudices of the time. - 22/23

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" #14. What's yours? - 23/23