Day #23: Little Nemo and the Helpful Star

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated March 18, 1906:


Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (June 19, 2020):


When I started reading this strip, I realized that I hadn't yet mentioned the fact that we're no longer starting our journey in Nemo's bedroom. - 1/19

This is a pretty big deal since, up til this point, that's been our kicking off point each and every strip. From now on though, the strip is deeply entrenched in the surreality of the dreamscape from panel 1. - 2/19

This again signals McCay's experimental development; by removing the anchor of the real (Nemo's bed/bedroom) from the beginning of the strip, the jolt back to reality at the end is that much more intense and meaningful. - 3/19

In fact, this becomes so pronounced over the next few months that it'll be over two years (on Aug. 26, 1908's famous Walking Bed strip) before we see Nemo begin in bed again. - 4/19

Narratively, we see the return of another recurring character, the Moon, who, after being asked yet again by King Morpheus to assist him, decides to enlist the help of the Stars to get Nemo to the Princess. - 5/19

McCay again utilizes his new synoptic caption boxes in the top tier, though (this time) they take on a specific diegetic purpose as the Stars both lay and sit on them while the Moon speaks. - 6/19

We've spoken a little bit throughout the last few days about how certain characters of the comic eventually become meta-aware of the fact that they are, indeed, comics characters. This could be another hint/nod towards that. - 7/19

The boxes don't "cover up" pictorial content, but actively "interact with" the pictorial content. This means that both pictorial and meta content exist within the same diegetic plane. Another element of surreality, surely, but arguably something more than that, as well. - 8/19

I also enjoy the narrative conceit of tricking the trickster. The Stars are clearly more cunning and capable than Flip. It's actually a bit sad, isn't it? That the strip (and Slumberland) both think so poorly of Flip that he's beaten at his own game. - 9/19

Or is he? - 10/19

I find it hilarious that Nemo wakes HIMSELF up by looking at his own/Flip's hat in the mirror. Ultimately, it is Nemo's little blunder that causes the otherwise excellent plan to fail here (though it does continue in the following strip, as well…). - 11/19

The Stars' plan was, actually, pretty brilliant; how could Nemo wake up if that which was causing it was permanently out of sight? Makes sense… until of course you remember that mirrors are a thing! - 12/19

When the inevitable moment occurs, we only see Nemo's face *within* the mirror which looks back at the real Nemo (whose back is facing the reader) in shock and surprise. - 13/19

That Nemo has been painted and disguised to look like Flip increases the irony! Nemo is pretty much gone in this moment, replaced entirely by a simulacra Flip thus causing the awakening. In a way then, Flip DOES wake Nemo up even though he isn't even technically there! - 14/19

That the Stars plan could be foiled by something as mundane as a mirror is perfectly funny (especially for McCay's young readers). - 15/19

Finally, I love the tension created within this strip between Nemo and Flip. There is a back and forth effect that occurs as we switch between the panels and character focuses. - 16/19

This strip lives and thrives in the tension created by this tug-o-war! It permeates the entire page right up until the penultimate panel when it declares Flip the winner. - 17/19

Even though he isn't actually there, his simulacra reflection is. Nemo, back turned to the reader, is only represented through the image of Flip… that it causes Nemo to wake up though, is enough to definitively declare his defeat. - 18/19

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" #23. What's yours? - 19/19