I was tempted to scribble a screed today about the gnashing of teeth over the Brexit news. While performing a Windows 10 upgrade on a workstation, the two girls in the cube next door were whining about what a tragedy it is. Is control so important to the Left? A part of me feels a little satisfied at the development. Obama’s asinine threats to the UK about leaving the EU struck a sour chord, and I don’t have a very high opinion of the European Union in general. And yet I don’t really care very much. Why should I? Let the British decide how they want to be governed. It amazes me that some Americans are so angsty about it.
What I meant to write about today plays to my tendency to look backwards – golden pulp literature, golden age gaming, times when traditional Judeo-Christian values were the norm and not something to be shamed.
John Carter of Mars was a major inspiration for the development of Superman, one of the most iconic comic characters ever. But if we go even further back in the history of comics (of which I’ve never been a close follower, admittedly), what do we find? I should also probably beg your pardon here, as I realize I’m probably committing some nerd-society faux pas by categorizing comic books together with comic strips. Sumimasen.
I was reminded recently of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo. McCay has been called a genius for his imaginative illustrations and vivid art style, and even if most people today are unaware of him and his Little Nemo character, they have continued to inspire various artists throughout the years.
Probably the most famous imagery of the comic, which has been spoofed and imitated many times since, is the walking bed. Look familiar?
I have only sampled a small amount of the Little Nemo comics online, but there were some pretty crazy (and great) tropes and pictures that I can certainly imagine others to have drawn upon.
Personally, I had two encounters with Little Nemo growing up.
First was Little Nemo: The Dream Master for NES. This was a tough game; I remember beating it, but I can’t swear that was without Game Genie. Aside from the difficulty, the music and imaginative nature of the game made an impression on me. The principle gameplay of the sidescrolling platformer came in the form of feeding candy to various dream denizens (frog-like creatures, bee-things, gorillas, moles, etc). You would then either ride on or fuse with the tamed beasts and make use of their unique abilities to traverse the levels. You also carried a dream scepter that became more powerful at the end-levels of the game and you ultimately used to defeat the evil nightmare king.
My second experience with Little Nemo came in the form of the animated film Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, the movie upon which the NES game was based . Interestingly, the film was a Japanese-American collaboration (which explains why it looks like anime).
It seems that the production of the film ran into quite a few hiccups – originally George Lucas and then Chuck Jones were approached for help, but both turned down the offer. Ray Bradbury was involved in the writing process, though it’s unclear to me how much of his writing survived to the final version of the movie.
I recall enjoying the musical numbers and the various characters. I also remember thinking that the princess was quite a cutie (I guess I had ladies on my mind even as a youngster).
Little Nemo is another “oldie” that I hope will be revived again in some form before it fades into obscurity. And though I don’t suppose it falls neatly into the contemporary SFF category, it most definitely lies in the same realm of imagination and fantastical creation. Especially when you look at a lot of the sludge being churned out today, the Little Nemo is worthy of remembrance and preservation. I’ll be doing my part, at least; I own the DVD of the film, ready for a screening for my progeny down the line.