January 8, 2016
I took Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream to bed with me. I was tired, and I know you’re not supposed to take work into bed with you–but I also know you’re supposed to work through the tiredness and try to meet your goals if you really want to be a writer. So I wanted to write about one more Nemo page before I gave up on my to-do list for the day.
Imagine a woman propped up in her four-poster bed, in the sweatshirt she plans to sleep in, wearing coke bottle eyeglasses, legs under a heap of quilts, with only little white Christmas lights for illumination. A giant book lies open on her legs, and requires the full seriousness and length of her thighs to lean against. Her heels are a little bit braced against the mattress, doing their part in supporting the book.
Jason Lex’s page is dark and less paneled than the other two I’ve already written about. It has a lot of greens, browns, and purples. It has textured large three-dimensional surfaces and then cut-aways jammed with flat, cartoony figures. Every word balloon is an exclamation written in hard-to-read gothic lettering. The cutaways are surrounded by a thick white dashed border like ugly white contrast stitching on brown leather shoes from the 1990s. Down at the bottom right, I can see that this page is showing how Nemo has incorporated the storm outside his window into his dream, and he’s imagining that these little creatures are running around possibly inside a dragon, but maybe also in a hill next to a dragon. Nemo doesn’t have any of the bedheady, tumbled-out-of-bed, half-tangled-in-bedclothes-still charm that I’m starting to recognize as a Nemo staple. This Nemo might not even be Nemo. This could be some kid named Kyle.
I’m logey and cross. I want to go to sleep and I’ve committed myself to looking at this joyless page. The best I can do is to identify features and think, “OK, I see what you’re doing with that. OK this is a piece of that cleverness.” There’s no white space. There’s nowhere for my eye to rest. There’s not room for an impression to bloom in my mind.
All the while, there’s this big expanse of the facing page, and I’m forcing myself not to look at it. But it’s there, hogging my field of vision, calling to me. There’s tons of whitespace on that other page and my eye wants to go over there so badly. It’s like I’m a little kid in bed with the mumps and I can stare at dark, unappealing wallpaper, or I can look out at a field covered in fresh snow on a bright, winter day. Maybe there are a few fences and clumps of trees, but mostly it just looks really clean and white and snowy.
And then my mood tips and teeters on this edge between dilligence and subversiveness. Suddenly I’m a little kid, up too late, but fascinated with something. Suddenly, I’m wooed by the danger of over-stimulating myself, never falling asleep, having mom barge in and yell at me when she sees my light on under the door and it’s so far past my bedtime.
That other page is by Jeremy Bastian and I will stare at it head on and write about it another night.