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This book is the one. I was made aware of Winsor McKay's Little Nemo in the late 1970's, and have been a fan ever since. I've been amazed at how far ahead of the curve McKay was, and how much of an influence he was on so much art so much after his demise.
The adventures of Little Nemo were wonderful- by that I mean full of wonder. The colors were bold- way bolder for his day than anyone else. The panels blew off the limitations of convention as McKay left the restrictions of flat panels behind, letting the story demand its own, unique and innovative visual perspectives. Uh-oh- I'm sounding like an academic here, and I'm not. I'm a Little Nemo enthusiast and I'll let the experts explain in laborious detail what I cannot.
What I can explain is that Nemo was a startling experiment in his time, and if you want a definitive book that will allow you access to his adventures in Slumberland, then this is the one. If you want a more comprehensive overview, I guess Canemaker is your man. Canemaker's is a great book, too, and has the biographical details. This book has enough text for you to understand the strip in the context of its time, but lets the art speak for itself. This is the best book I've ever seen for the sheer joy of Little Nemo.
This is the only book that reproduces the comics in full size, and the editor swears that he has taken all the necessary pains to get the colors right. I will take his word for it, as I have only seen Nemo in other books and in preserved strips of the day, and who knows what the original colors were? Mr. Maresca has sworn that he took the time to get the colors right, and they are fantastic. And seeing it in its original size is a revelation. Nemo was magical, the Harry Potter of his day.Read more ›
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I had read about the size of this book, but I was truly surprised by just how large it was in my hands. It's essentially the size of entire front page of a paper like the New York Times (length-wise and width-wise). It really has to be seen (or held) to be believed. Aside from being difficult to carry on the subway and having difficulty figuring out where to put it on my shelf, the size is much appreciated.
As for the inside, the images have been reproduced and cleaned-up with such loving care, it is truly amazing. While there is little information on the life of Winsor McCay, other books out there have thoroughly discussed it (the Canemaker McCay book with Sendak introduction is worth getting for those interested). Around 100 of Maresca's favourites have been chosen to represent Nemo, some of them being the most complex of McCay's Little Nemo series.
My only regret is that there is not more. The editor has indicated that he will not release another volume, but I wish he would reconsider. A few years back, Fantagraphics released six books of all of Little Nemo's exploits, but those books, while nicely done, reproduce Nemo in smaller format, and they have long since gone out of print (as will this book soon I'm sure). Further, as Maresca chose 100 of the best pages, what little continuity exists in Little Nemo is somewhat lost. Granted, each Sunday's adventure was often independent of the previous Sunday's, but not always.
Regardless, Maresca has done an incredible job and should be commended for helping preserve some of the most incredible work by an underappreciated American artist. Surprisingly, Maresca could not get a publisher to take on this project, such that it was self-published. Hopefully this edition will do well, and there will be more to come either from Maresca or a publisher who realizes that a full-sized complete reproduction of McCay's work would be a worthwhile and profitable task to undertake.
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