Day #444: Little Nemo and the Skating Zoo

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated January 04, 1925:

Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (SEPTEMBER 9, 2021):

This strip started off a bit slow, but really got my attention in the second tier! - 1/23

It begins with Flip waking up (late) and learning that everyone has decided to go skating together with the assistance of some talented Slumberlandian animals. - 2/23

Sore that everyone but him was partaking in the fun (including Impie and Slivvers), he decided that he had no interest in skating and swears he'd never be a part of the "skating zoo". - 3/23

Side note: Blutch is also not included at first, but I think we can sort of let that one slide… he seems to be becoming pretty attached to Flip and joins him on the elephant later on. - 4/23

The question that I can't stop asking myself is… what made Flip change his mind? - 5/23

It happens in panel 6… almost without warning, he bolts back to the keeper and demands an animal to join the fun saying that he's "had a grouch on," but that he's over it now. - 6/23

There is seemingly nothing that prompts this change of attitude… in fact, in panel 5, he says that he's "dizzy"… presumably, that would make him *not* want to ride… so why does he? - 7/23

Panel 5 is a really awesome panel because, as Flip loses his balance from dizziness, he leans into the panel frame and bends not only it, but also the gutter and panel frame on the previous panel to the left! - 8/23

Why in the world does McCay include this formally meta moment? It's the only one in the entire comic and no other moment in it's narrative is even remotely meta… it almost seems out of place doesn't it? - 9/23

Why utilize this technique, n this moment, in this way and then have it be meaningless? … Unless it's not. - 10/23

My read is that when Flip becomes dizzy and loses his balance (which causes the comic to shift and change in response to his action) that Flip sees either a) the fact that they are in a comic, or b) the reader. - 11/23

Flip's question in panel 5 ("Gee! Am I seeing things?) coupled with his wide-eyed stare in the reader's direction, makes me think that probably "option b" is the one that makes the most sense to me. - 12/23

If Flip's contact with and by extension manipulation of the formal restraints of the comic have revealed to him some hidden truth about his existence in that moment, I could see him having such a moment of surprise. - 13/23

It also helps to make sense of the quickness with which he changes his mind… he is performing for the readers, now! - 14/23

If recognizing that there is a reader means recognizing that he is under a microscope, would he want to be known as the sulky, wet-blanket who didn't have any fun? - 15/23

Heck, if that was the case… maybe the readers wouldn't like him anymore and McCay would stop drawing him thus ending his existence entirely because of his "grouch". - 16/23

Maybe he realized that being rude to Impie a panel earlier (the comment about him being where he belongs in the skating zoo was cringe-worthy) might not endear him to his readers and wanted a do-over? - 17/23

But this moment serves another purpose, as well… because by blurring the line between fiction/reality for Flip, you also blur the lines between fiction/reality for us. - 18/23

In that very short moment, we are forced to remember that we're reading a comic strip/Sunday supplement. - 19/23

It certainly creates a feeling of safety when our friends (Flip and maybe others…) end up falling through the broken ice! What might otherwise be highly dangerous is recognizable as comics fare because of that meta-moment in particular. - 20/23

The subtly here is really spectacular and I think that the way McCay achieves a really grand effect with the most minimal of formal exploitation is something really special! - 21/23

I'm so eager to hear other thoughts about this moment! I'm hopeful that we can have a cool discussion about this! - 22/23

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" #444. What's yours? - 23/23