Opening Nemo

January 1, 2016

Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream came out in 2014 and I was among the first batch of people to get a copy because I signed up for one through Locust Moon’s crowd-sourcing efforts. I thought it sounded cool.

I will lay before you the extent of my ignorance–I found out who Winsor McCay was only through the press for this Locust Moon tribute anthology. I didn’t know that there was this genius cartoonist hero called Winsor McCay that started this big full-page newspaper comic strip in 1905. The Locust Moon gang rounded up dozens and dozens of contemporary cartoonists to each contribute one McCay-inspired story in this giant-page format. The result is a book that is a giant object.

I’m not always the best with objects. Here’s what happened to this one. I had it sent to my office address instead of home, because I didn’t want it stolen while I was at work. It arrived encased in cardboard. It was a bit cumbersome to haul with my other commuter accoutrement, and my buses are so crowded, and I’m always so vanquished at the end of the workday, that there never seemed to be a good time to lug it home. I forgot about it, and it leaned under my desk for several months.

Then I brought it home and leaned it somewhere in my apartment. Forgot about it for a few months. Then a new neighbor got an overly aggressive porch light that penetrated my blinds at night, and I realized that the Nemo package was a good size to blot out the light, if I propped it up against the window. In the morning I hefted it down and leaned it against the bureau. That’s how art gets treated sometimes!

Today is New Year’s Day, the great day for Generally Getting Your Shit Together. Since it’s a new year and a new me, I decided I was no longer the sort of person who lives quite so much like a Boxcar Child. I propped the package up on the chair and cut it open. Lifted the book out and tore the cellophane away. Then I stopped and cleared off my kitchen table, because I needed most of the surface.

It’s refreshing these days to encounter a physically imposing book. Seeing it dominate my kitchen reminded me of how my mom kept her Audobon Baby Elephant Folio of bird illustrations open on a special wooden stand in the living room, as if it were the family Bible.

So far, I’ve only read Bill Sienkiewicz’s fiery introduction in praise of Winsor McCay, in which he first takes a swipe at the shallow way praise is thrown around these days so that we will know: When Bill Sienkiewicz says Winsor McCay is a genius, he is not saying it like someone might call a sandwich “awesome.” OK. Got it.

More to follow.

Not a tiny apple.



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