Day #8: Little Nemo Meets Lunatix on the Moon

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated December 03, 1905:

Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (June 4, 2020):

With this strip, I'm noticing an interesting pattern emerge. Each time McCay utilizes an innovative spatial design, he does so two weeks in a row, then returns to a more traditional one for the following week. - 1/24

Notice strip #1 began with a fairly tradition page layout. This makes sense as the very first strip of the series. #2 and #3, though, were the experimental vertical panels that grew or restricted based on panel content. - 2/24

The following strips (#4, 5, and 6) returned to a more recognizable layout before the circular centrepiece of McCay's Thanksgiving strip emerges in all it's glory! - 3/24

That this strip's page layout is identical fits the pattern of repeating innovative spatial designs one after another. I wonder if, as @pfxbryan and I were discussing yesterday, this is done to help familiarize the reader with these new conventions? - 4/24

Having these layouts repeat would, certainly, assist the reader as they began to decipher/become familiar with McCay's use of layout rhetoric, and serves as continued demonstration of his prowess (a boast of "I can repeat layouts and STILL be innovative!"). - 5/24

The biggest difference between this and the Thanksgiving strip though, resides in the centre tier that houses the circular panel and the four surrounding it. - 6/24

If you look back to yesterday's strip, McCay uses an identical formation of the central tier(s), yet the reading order is different… - 7/24

While I would suggest that the Thanksgiving strip presents a reader's more commonly expected panel order, I don't necessarily dislike the alteration in this strip today. - 8/24

One could argue it eschews comics' logical reading pattern and they would, of course, be right. But I think that's the point. - 9/24

Not only does the change in reading order jolt the reader out of whatever complacency they may bring to the reading, but it also mimics Nemo's disorientation. I believe this acts as a map of sorts for the reader; a reminder that they shouldn't expect the surreality of Nemo's dreams to be logical. - 10/24

So McCay is still setting up the primary (un)rules of the dreamscape that we enter into with Nemo. His hope is surely that the preparatory work done in these early strips will pay dividends in future work. I, for one, cannot wait to discuss that in those future strips! - 11/24

We also witness the return of the bed-as-vehicle motif here as it becomes weightless and breaks through his bedroom ceiling into the night sky. - 12/24

More often than not, there has been a Slumberlandian to initiate Nemo's journey and I think it's important to note that Lunatix doesn't enter his room to get him, but rather (somehow) commands the bed to rise up to him. - 13/24

The pictorial rendering of the face of the moon is an incredible sight to behold! If you recall, he was actually present in the last strip as well, looking perplexingly at the Turkey as it devours Nemo's home. - 14/24

That he makes a return here, this time in a much more prominent role, suggests that characters we have met in the past, no matter how seemingly unimportant, may come back to have important roles in the future. - 15/24

There's also something to be said about being locked away, against your will, within a celestial being. When the Moon's mouth closes, Nemo is shocked and frightened! The captions tell us Lunatix has no intention to harm Nemo, but how else is the act to be interpreted? - 16/24

That said, given all that Nemo has witnessed thus far, it might be surprising that he continues to distrust the characters with whom he comes across. Many of his failures to reach Slumberland are the direct result of not trusting the right people and acting impulsively. - 17/24

Now for the real talk. I am, by and large, disappointed with the end result of this strip. While it has intriguing elements, I find that it utilizes some of the common elements that we've seen so far to a less dramatic affect. - 18/24

For instance, the single colour backgrounds in the central tier(s) of this strip. Rather than add to the mystery and magic as they've done in the passed, they actually function to flatten the impact of Nemo's journey for me… - 19/24

Three panels of Nemo's bed falling apart as it slowly rises to the sky is simply too many for me and the colour changes offer nothing meaningful to the experience beyond unconnected visual appeal. - 20/24

Admittedly though, this could be because the panels are void of dialogue until the final tier of the comic when Lunatix pleads with Nemo not to run away. I'll acknowledge my bias here; I simply don't connect to this sort of descriptive storytelling like this in comics. - 21/24

When the linguistic and the pictorial repeat/mimic the communication of the other, I rapidly lose interest in one of the two modalities. Generally, the one that is less informative and, in this case, that would regrettably be the pictorial - 22/24

This has the effect of distancing me, emotionally, from Nemo… He has nothing unique to give the reader in this strip; the narrator pretty much says it all. - 21/24

This is in contrast to almost every other strip where Nemo is front and centre; his actions, and what he says, matter and have importance for the reader. Since he rarely speaks in this strip, that isn't the case here. - 22/24

So while the moon gets ever closer, I (the reader) feel myself being pulled further and further away, almost as if I am back in Nemo's room unable to truly take the journey with him. - 22/24

To finish off, I'll admit that, while this strip is (again) one of the most recognizable of the #LittleNemo strips, I just… don't like it. But I'm really interested to hear some of YOUR readings. Please change my mind! - 23/24

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" #8. What's yours? - 24/24