I wake up to Nemo

A little while ago I posted a plea for help with a cartoon I had found in an old catalogue. Peter, with the help of his boss, kindly did a translation for me with help of flickr notes.

It’s a curious little story and I was relieved to be able to enjoy the text as well as the pictures, however, there seemed to be no explanation for the connection to Maurice Sendak that had originally got me enthused.

Over the last 24 hours there has been a new development…


On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 23:11:39 +0000, eversion wrote:

Hi Mike,

Ralf has passed on your comments about the cartoon I posted. I’m fascinated to learn that you may have copies in English, I assumed it was just an obscure one off!

Whatever info you have would be much appreciated.

Regards,

Rob

On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 17:34:02 -0800, Mike Whybark wrote:

Can you pass me back the URL again?

I assumed that the piece was a translation of the little nemo original; the images I noticed looks familiar as part of a long sequence in which Flip, Nemo, and the Imp are wandering through Morpheus’ castle. I have several of the Fanagraphics full-year reprints and may be able to locate the piece.

If it’s not a translation but was originally in Dutch, I may be of little use, although I could probably put you in touch with Eric and Fanta, who could get you and Bill Blackbeard hooked up. I think Blackbeard edited the Nemo books.

I seem to recall something about early seventies bootleg dutch reprints of Nemo preceding US reprints by a couple of years. I may have read that these reprints influenced Joost Swarte, who so clearly has looked at McCay (among other early cartoonists) pretty closely.

On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 23:55:34 +0000, eversion wrote:

Mike,

Time for a confession.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until about 5 minutes ago I didn’t know anything about the history of Nemo or Winsor McCay. If I’d bothered to Google it in the first place (as I just have) I’d have realised that I got the Sendak connection completely the wrong way round!

Here’s the link again, it should make you chuckle…

rob.annable.co.uk/journal.cgi/2005/01/07/books/little_nemo

I found the strip in a furniture catalogue put together in the late 60’s showing the collection of iconic furniture owned by a Dutch university. If it’s not too much trouble, I’d love to see what you have, but it’s clearly not quite what I imagined it might be.

Rob

On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 17:34:02 -0800, Mike Whybark wrote:

oh, fantastic. It’s just what I thought it was. I’m certain i have this. I will leap off the couch into action in a minute.

McCay also is widely credited as the inventor of animation, for his “Gertie the Dionsaur” films.

here’s a wikipedia article on Nemo:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Nemo

And then finally, I got this from Mike earlier this evening…

Ok, yes, this is known as the “Befuddle Hall” sequence.

I have it in several republications. This transcription is taken from page 110 of “the Best of Little Nemo in Slumberland,” edited by Richard Marschall.

FRAME ONE
Nemo (on the left, in policeman’s cap):
I wish we had never come into this Befuddle Hall in the first place.

Flip (to right, in cap, appears bearded and with cigar):
That isn’t the question now, it’s how are we going to get out.

FRAME TWO
N: The whole affair seems to be sideways. It makes me dizzy.
F: There’s a hall running up and down and crossways! Don’t fall in, now, hear?

FRAME THREE
N: Let’s give ourselves up when we get out of here, eh, Flip?
F: Let’s get out first! Whoever named this Befuddle Hall knew his business!

FRAME FOUR
N (to the Imp): Come on! You slowpoke! Hurry up! Don’t be so slow!
F: I see daylight! Come on! Hurry up!

FRAME FIVE
N: We’ll hunt up the princess now, eh? And go back to the palace!
F: Yes! There’s the door to this befuddle place yonder!

FRAME SIX
I: Pug ug umble guck!
N (losing cap): I’m so glad we are going to get out of here!
F: I told you I’d find the way out, did I not, eh?

FRAME SEVEN
N: Yes! You did not! We are as bad off as ever!
F: Huh! This beats me! I’m certainly, um, twisted! the only thing we can do is go back again!

FRAME EIGHT
N (having fallen out of bed and awakened): Huh! I was wondering why everything looked so sidewise like!

Every single LNIS ends with Nemo awakening on the floor in a smaller frame. There is a wonderful sequence which starts with him in bed, and the bed grows legs and gallops over the city wildly until he awakens, having fallen out of bed.

Little_nemo_plancha_1.jpg

The strip you found has an original publication date of 1908, and is drawn from a several-weeks sequence known as “Befuddle Hall.”

From the same sequence:

McCay_LittleNemo.jpg

There was a very terrible animated film adaptation of the strip made in the 1990s. In the US in the seventies, a wonderful animated campaign for Levis’ pants made heavy and direct use of imagery and sequences originating in the strips, but wildly psychedelicized in the nineteen-seventies idiom.

Performing a google image search on the quoted term “little nemo” seems to yield a number of scans of the strip in color, as it was originally published. The strip was an anchor of the American sunday comics supplement and original rotgoravured pages are sought-after collectibles (I have never seen one in real life).

LittleNemoADVERTe513_bis.jpg

Anyway, there’s a ton of stuff out there of Nemo and on McCay. If you can find it, “Little Nemo 1905-1914” may contain every strip from the greatest period. This edition was published by the Evergreen Press (a subthing of Taschen), has an introductioun by Bill Blackbeard, and the ISBN is 3-8228-6300-9

www.amazon.com/gp/reader/3822863009

absurdly, the book dealers on Amazon have this listed as $280 and up.

Hope you enjoy getting to know Nemo. It’s truly brilliant drawing.

The moral of the story? Check Google and Wikipedia first. That is, of course, unless you want to enjoy actually being taught by someone who cares enough to give you their time and wisdom.

Thanks Mike, Peter and Ralf.

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