Day #9: Little Nemo, the Armoured Knight

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" dated December 10, 1905:

Transcripts of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (June 5, 2020):

Here we have a bit of a more traditional #LittleNemo strip in that the spatial design/page layout is a little more traditional than we've seen the past two days. - 1/25

This strip begins by doing something very cool on the top tier. In the centre panel of the triptych, the seemingly unending stairs that Nemo will soon traverse are presented with a striking perspective. - 2/25

I love that the moon shines brightly above them; it almost says, "Look! If Nemo had just accepted my help last week, this is where I'd have brought him!" An interesting call back for astute readers. - 3/25

That said, the way that the stairs are presented gives off a very "flat" feeling to me… In fact, I almost didn't even realize that they were the same ones in below because of it. - 4/25

Tiers 3-5 give us the impression that the stairs are incredibly steep, but you'd never guess that from the first tier. This makes me wonder… - 5/25

Does Slumberland change in response to Nemo's presence? Can the stairs flatten to accommodate Flipflop's journey to Nemo, but revert back to a steep staircase to "test" Nemo in some way? A quasi-test of his knighthood? - 6/25

It's a genius idea Flipflop has to give him the armour, what boy wouldn't want to prepare for battle and pretend at knighthood? Though I wonder if the armour comes with more significance than Nemo realizes? - 7/25

For starters, it makes him feel powerful and safe. His journey's have all been nearly catastrophic so far, so the opportunity to get to Slumberland safely and locked away inside a suit of armour would certainly have it's appeal. - 8/25

This is evidenced by how quickly we actually (FINALLY) arrive at the palace of King Morpheus. The journey was so… uneventful (?) that there was nothing to tell. - 9/25

The suit makes Nemo feel invincible. The caption tells us that Nemo walked "boldy" ready to "fight anything or anyone". Can you blame the lad? With shield and sword in hand, who wouldn't have that sort of bravado. - 10/25

Even the more unsightly shadow creatures of Slumberland declare that Nemo is a "dangerous looking man." The use of the word "man" and not "boy", I think, is incredibly important here. - 11/25

This could be read as Nemo playing at being a grown up; strong, proud, confident, and self-assured he is "plucky" as he stomps up those five-hundred miles of stairs. - 12/25

Yet, the moment he comes face to face with a Slumberlandian, his bravado fades. The caption tells us that he is clearly nervous of the Sandman, but his real fear is instigated by the Dragon carrying the Princess. - 13/25

Now, a dragon is a fairly stereotypical battle staple within a Knights "rogues" gallery… That this dragon scares our little knight, Nemo, so badly as to make him descend the stairs he'd just come up is somewhat contradictory. - 14/25

A "dangerous man" would not shirk the challenge of his fire-breathing foe, but would unsheathe his blade and prepare for battle! That Nemo doesn't do that is telling and simultaneously demonstrates his desire to grow up and his position as a child. - 15/25

But, the dragon is harmless! It is carrying, within it's mouth, the Princess for whom Nemo has been brought to Slumberland! This is the moment we've all been waiting for! The one where Nemo and the Princess are finally united. - 16/25

McCay refuses to give us that moment, though. The Princess barely has time to rise from her throne and certainly doesn't have time to speak before Nemo is tumbling down the stairs in fear. - 17/25

Panels 12-18 (depending on where you want to begin and end his tumble) are a very long six panels displaying Nemo's falling down the stairs he'd previously ascended. - 18/25

Part of me wonders if this is a comment about the futility of it all? The fact that we, the reader, return to this strip each day (week McCay's contemporary reader) hoping for something we know we won't see? - 19/25

At this point, the reader is familiar with not reaching the Princess, but this time McCay gives just enough of a taste of the moment to come as to be tantalizingly cruel. - 20/25

I find it peculiar that at no point in his fall do we see Nemo's body hit the stairs; the impact happens exclusively within the gutter between panels. I wonder if this it to emphasize the sudden hitting of the ground in his room or if there more to it? - 21/25

Finally, Nemo says something in the penultimate panel that really stuck with me: "Mother! Save me, I'm falling to pieces!" - 22/25

This must be a call back to Crystalette, the Queen that he was responsible for shattering within the glass caves. I like the idea that this strip is a companion to that one; Nemo fears his fragility, which was embodied by Crystallette and the glass people,… - 23/25

…so rather than allow himself to be destroyed, he arms himself with protective gear that will ensure his safety. Of course, it could also simply be a call-back and reminder of his guilty conscience. - 24/25

This is my reading of "Little Nemo in Slumberland" #9. What's yours? - 25/25