Day #389: Flip Introduces Baseball Among the Lilliputians

"In the Land of Wonderful Dreams" dated June 22, 1913:

Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (JULY 10, 2021):

Well, those brigands from the last couple strips must be safely locked away inside Duke-Commissioner Flip's jail because we've moved on to teaching the Lilliputians about baseball now! - 1/22

For many reasons, including the return of previous tropes (i.e. abandon Flip) or the fairy tale/literary focuses, Flip's ubiquitous connection to American culture has been allowed to sit on the back burner a bit… - 2/22

That all changes here with the return of baseball to the #LittleNemo strip! - 3/22

This isn't the first time that we've seen baseball, America's game, featured in the comics, but it *is* the first time in a very long time (since Mars, perhaps?). - 4/22

I'm immediately reminded of McCay's impulses to reflect America through the imaginary cultures that he creates. Mars was one example and now we have the Lilliputians, as well. - 5/22

The difference between the Martian and Lilliputians is that the latter exists within literature as a pre-created satirical society… it made me wonder if McCay's use of baseball here, in combination with the Lilliputians, was satirizing something as well? - 6/22

For Swift, the Lilliputians were stand-ins for politicians; their stature and attitude a harsh criticism of their real-world counterparts. Could McCay be using ball to make a political commentary here? - 7/22

If he is… It's very unclear. Granted, this might just be because I've no understanding of the political landscape at the historical moment of the strip's publication, but I can't read much of anything in the way of satire here... - 8/22

I'm willing to bet that McCay's injection of Americanism here was more about Flip than any attempt at satire. - 9/22

We've long discussed Slumberland's "American"-ness (which will only become more pronounced as time goes on) and one of the primary factors that feature in that discussion is Flip and the way that he reflects American attitudes of the time. - 10/22

Ultimately, though introducing baseball to the Lilliputians is another example of "American"-ness bleeding into McCay's fictional worlds, it mostly served (at least for me) as a reminder of Flip's unique American characteristics that have been less obvious of late. - 11/22

I'm going to be a bit petty here, but I love watching Pill get cracked with the baseball. He's such a blowhard; he speaks to the Lilliputians as though he knows what's going on, but that clearly isn't true. - 12/22

Seeing him standing with his back towards Flip makes it obvious he doesn't understand the game. In this way, he's much like Impie in this strip. - 13/22

Impie doesn't pretend like he knows what to do… it's obvious that no one has explained to him the rules or what the "outfield" actually is… so he just stands there. - 14/22

By contrast, Nemo (the sleeping American boy) and Flip (the American Slumbelandian) have a firm grasp of the game that they want to be playing. This explains to me, at least in part, why Pill acts the way he does. - 15/22

The last thing Pill wants is to look as though he is uneducated or doesn't know the rules. He must maintain his status of importance alongside Nemo and Flip who know the rules… to suggest that he is as in the dark as Impie would be unthinkable for him. - 16/22

This made Pill's incredibly rude and racist comments towards Impie in panel 4 ring more like a whiny, foolish, old man who wants to be taken seriously but is in the midst of doing something absurd. - 17/22

He deserved not just the first baseball to the back of the head, but also the one that Impie throws. I absolutely loved it. - 18/22

I'll end just by mentioning that I really like the diptych that McCay creates in the final tier. It functions really well to create a sense of the size of the grandstand through picto-spatial representation. - 19/22

It also allows us to really understand the distance that Impie moved from when he climbed the grandstand to when he was, unfortunately, apprehended. - 20/22

It's an effective example of how space can communicate multiple things in comics; it communicates distance and time and scale and affect all really well here! - 21/22

This is my reading of "In the Land of Wonderful Dreams" #389. What's yours? - 22/22