Monday, September 25, 2006

Boing Boing: Gigantic Little Nemo book does justice to the loveliest comic ever

Boing Boing: Gigantic Little Nemo book does justice to the loveliest comic ever

I have to admit, for about the last seven or eight years, I buy a newspaper purely motivated by reading the funnies. I say this without any shame. It's not that I'm uninformed, it's just I got tired of reading stories that were supposed to be "news" months after I'd read them online. This is particularly true of science news, thanks to the geek's paradise of Slashdot.
The ironic thing is, comics as we know them, came about as an enticement to get people to buy papers. And good ole' Citizen Hearst and his ilk, weren't playing around. Those old school funnies were lavish, and dare I say, decadent. Wil Eisner's The Spirit was a small comic-book insert! And Windsor McKay's Little Nemo was a full color page! And this was when newspapers were THE major source of news.
Now, when you can get news, opinion, and classifieds, quicker and easier online, the publishers continue to shrink the funnies down into postage stamp sized panels, focusing on quantity over quality. Sadly there just aren't that many quality strips anymore. I wish the papers and syndicates would allow cartoonists to explore some the huge rambling formats of yesteryear. A comic section designed with that in mind, comprised of only a handful of features, that would make me a regular newsprint patron.

Maybe it would even entice Bill Waterson back to the craft.

But, as we nostalgically wait for the one-foot-in-the-grave newspaper industry, to pull it's head out of the sand, and realize the true potential of it's medium... we can bathe in the glories of yesteryear, in this collection of one of the true classic masters of sequential art.

I just bought a copy of the astonishing Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays!, the single largest book I've ever owned, and quite possibly the most enchanting...It's the first time I've ever seen Little Nemo pages at the size they were published, back at the turn of the 20th century, and it's also the first time I've ever really gotten Little Nemo. These strips, orginally published in breakfast-table-hogging broadsheets, were watercolor masterpieces, huge paintings that depicted the weekly dreamland adventures of Little Nemo, tripping through fantastic, surreal worlds that McKay brought vividly to life... I've seen them reproduced at generous (but smaller) sizes, and they always seemed a little goofy and uninteresting. I just couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. But when I opened a copy of the mammoth Splendid Sundays collection, the appeal of Little Nemo hit me like a shovel upside the head. Once you've seen Little Nemo at full size, you'll get it too: as generous, gentle, beautiful and wildly imaginative paintings.

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