This week's REMAKE/REMODEL challenge from WHITECHAPEL.
Here's the brief:
To mark this year’s New York Comic Convention – and the disruption-of-service-while-I’m-away-getting-pissed it represents, and the slumber-knackering jetlag I shall inevitably suffer – I thought I’d set us a 2 Week Challenge of a particularly delicious, somnambulistic and comic-centric nature.
Little Nemo was quite simply one of the Best Things Ever. Quite apart from being an early explorer of the narrative medium, the amount of sheer invention, humour and creepiness pumped into it by Winsor McCay means it’s still a rollicking read today. And it’s fucking beautiful to look at. The bar, my friends, is High.
Little Nemo is the main fictional character in a series of weekly comic strips by Winsor McCay that appeared from October 15, 1905 – April 23, 1911 and April 30, 1911 – July 26, 1914.
The strip related the dreams of a little boy: Nemo (meaning "nobody" in Latin), the hero. The last panel in each strip was always one of Nemo waking up, usually in or near his bed, and often being scolded (or comforted) by one of the grownups of the household after crying out in his sleep and waking them.
So we’re in super-high-concept territory here. It’s about the world of the subconscious, the slithering Id, the subliminal empyrean dragging-off a child’s brain for romps on another plane. It’s Narnia with teeth.
In the earliest strips, the dream event that woke him up would always be some mishap or disaster that seemed about to lead to serious injury or death, such as being crushed by giant mushrooms, being turned into a monkey, falling from a bridge being held up by "slaves", or gaining 90 years in age. The adventures leading to these disasters all had a common purpose: to get to Slumberland, where Nemo had been summoned by King Morpheus, to be the "playmate" of his daughter, the Princess.
Full article – including some of the creepy motherfuckers this poor little kid shared his dreams with – is Here.
So let’s do some reading between the lines, shall we? We’ve got a desperately unhappy kid, roundly loathed by the adults in his life, whose only escape from the dreariness of existence is to fling himself into a kaleidoscope of psychedelic experiences, quasi-racist lunatics and lethal fuck-you-uppery, all with the ill-defined goal of becoming the pliable Plaything of an imaginary girl. Uh-huh.
Usual rule applies: we’re RECONTEXTUALISING. The hows and the whys are up to you – maybe this is a contemporary version of Nemo, maybe it’s the original at the end of his life, maybe it’s something completely different and weird – but we want modernity, we want novelty, and we want cleverness.
On a personal note: Little Nemo is a work of beauty and inspiration which has changed the way that a lot of people in this industry – myself included – regard the tone and nature of narrative comics. I’m not going to stop you being as creepy and weird and nasty as you like, but – please – do so in the knowledge that the source material is as important as it is wondrous. Change it, evolve it, reclaim it… but don’t disrespect it.
You have two weeks."
Decided to see how close I could get to McCay's masterful drawings, and decided to toss Warren Ellis into the Dream Time instead. We all know how much he enjoys going to fan conventions! This was a real blast, and makes me worship McCay even more; these panels were tough!