Day #20: Little Nemo Reaches the Gates of Slumberland... Finally!

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated February 25, 1906:

Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (June 16, 2020):

Well, folks; we made it. On the 20th #LittleNemo strip, we've finally reached the gates of Slumberland… too bad they shut closed on us. - 1/22

This is a really interesting strip because it ends what I like to think of as the first half of Nemo's journey and initiates the second (which will begin tomorrow for us, but the following Sunday for McCay's contemporaries). - 2/22

I feel as though this and the next strip function together as two sides of a hinge; this one ushers out the episodic gag strips and the next replaces it with a more stable narrative focus. - 3/22

Now that we've reached Slumberland, we are going to be spending a lot of time here. In fact, nearly all of the next group of strips all take place within Slumberland. - 4/22

That said, it is still a ways off before Nemo finally reaches the Princess… how can that be, you might ask? Nemo is IN Slumberland, shouldn't it be easy? … We'll get into that (or him) tomorrow. - 5/22

For these reasons, I like this strip; but it's because of what it represents more than the actual strip itself. - 6/22

One very meaningful thing that McCay does in this strip is introduce a new and interesting recurring character: the Candy Kid! - 7/22

This young fellow, escorted by a guard (Dooflap from Strip #14 on Jan. 14, 1906, perhaps?) and literally made of candy, will be at Nemo's side for many strips to come. - 8/22

His introduction here though is a bit funny, in that it seems as though Nemo's journey is actually hindered, rather than helped, by his involvement. - 9/22

Not only are the two chased by the Giant Pie Eaters who want to consume the Candy Kid, but Nemo's momentary infatuation with the Wood Nymphs is also only initiated because they desire to eat the Candy Kid, as well. - 10/22

Why did the guard/Dooflap even need the Candy Kid? Was it only to entice him out of bed? - 11/22

Without him, Dooflap could have simply escorted Nemo to the Gates without being interrupted by either the Giant Pie Eaters or the Wood Nymphs. This makes Dooflap's melancholy body language in the penultimate panel so much worse. - 12/22

But, it does create an opportunity to do something very meta, which is have the characters recognize that Nemo won't have a chance to enter the gates for another whole week. - 13/22

This means a strange blending of reality/fiction… The real world influences the strip here because #LittleNemo was a weekly strip. So, sure, Nemo has to wait, but more important the READER has to wait, as well. - 14/22

Nemo's desires (attempts at playing the adult, @pfxbryan?) hold not just Dooflap and himself back, but us too. In this way, we (the reader) become Dooflap sitting forlornly on the steps, inches away from making our "dream" a (sur)reality. - 15/22

Another irregularly gridded page, the final two panels wonderfully manipulate spatial design to reflect how Nemo is feeling. - 16/22

Nemo is, understandably, distraught by making them miss their chance at entering Slumberland; his body language tells us this. But so does the layout. - 17/22

Nemo wakes up in the final panel feeling incredibly "small"… hanging his feet off the side, hunched shoulders, with a sad look on his face as he prepared to get out of bed. - 18/22

The fact that the final panel feels so condensed/tiny is representative of Nemo's emotional state. He FEELS small so the panel replicates that feeling spatially. - 19/22

This idea of Nemo as "small" has been foreshadowed throughout the strip… every character is massive except Nemo, Dooflap, and the Candy Kid. They tower over him making him physically small, while his actions make him emotionally small. - 20/22

Thankfully, he won't stay that way forever! While McCay's readers had to wait longer, we only have to wait until tomorrow to triumphantly enter the gates of Slumberland! - 21/22

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" #20. What's yours? - 22/22