Rating: 5/5 – Whimsical and Wonderful Update of Winsor McCay’s Classic.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
There’s been a resurgence of Little Nemo love lately; there was a Kickstarter for an oversized book with a laundry list of comics creators aching to contribute and now there is this fabulous new IDW mini-series written by Eric Shanower (who did some wonderful work on Oz books for both First Comics many years ago, and recently from Marvel with Skottie Young) with art by Gabriel Rodriguez coming off his stellar run of Locke & Key (with writer Joe Hill).
It’s been over 100 years since “Little Nemo in Slumberland” debuted in The New York Herald, the creation of Winsor McCay, where it ran from October 15, 1905, until July 23, 1911. Nemo moved to William Randolph Hearst’s New York American where it was renamed “In the Land of Wonderful Dreams” and it ran from July 18, 1911 until July 26, 1914. Some pretty credible history; read by millions of people every week for ten years. The central premise of the strip (original presented as big full-page strips taking up an entire newspaper page) was that Nemo would get into some predicament whilst dreaming, have a bit of an adventure, and wake up in the last panel. But while each strip could be read as a standalone page there was also a general progression of continuity over time.
McCay’s Little Nemo is revered by many as a pioneer of the comics art form, experimenting with panel sizes/layouts, interesting architecture, use of unconventional perspective and very detailed backgrounds. Shanower and Rodriguez are doing McCay proud in this debut issue. Shanower builds a central story with a new Nemo that is to be recruited as the new playmate for the princess of Slumberland (with a nod to the original Nemo, as well as reference to the 1989 animated film that may be what a lot of people are familiar with when they think of Little Nemo). We are treated to story chunks that while not single page, due to the differences in the format of the comic book to the original large format comic page, are still done in the classic vignette format with wild action and creative page designs and layouts by Rodriguez, ending with Nemo waking up when he gets into a predicament which halts the action in style similar to the format established by McCay.
This debut issue was a visual treat. Gabriel Rodriguez pulled out all the stops in creating some stunning dreamscapes and wonderful page layouts. I particularly enjoyed the “bed roller coaster” on page 9. Shanower does a great job on the connective story giving a motivation to get Nemo (“Stop calling me Nemo!”) into Slumberland. The individual dream vignettes are just plain fun; beautifully illustrated and flowing quickly from beginning to end, making be feel the issue was over much too soon. I was having too much fun reading it, I cannot wait until the next issue in 2 months. 2 months!! I guess quality takes time…
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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