Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland # 1 Review

Written by: Eric Shanower

Art by: Gabriel Rodriguez

Publisher: IDW

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland is Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez’ revitalization of Winsor McCay’s classic comic Little Nemo. Winsor McCay created Little Nemo in Slumberland in the early 1900s as a full page weekly comic strip in The New York Herald. McCay was known for his innovative work in comics, and he used the comic to experiment with color, timing, spacing, and panel shapes and sizes. McCay helped to revolutionize the form of comics, and now Shanower and Rodriguez are paying tribute and creating dreamscapes of their own.

The first issue of Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland is an excellent interpretation of McCay’s Slumberland. King Morpheus and his court are trying to select the Princess’s newest playmate when she hears the name James Nemo Summerton and knows he must be the playmate she is looking for. King Morpheus begins sending representatives of his court to fetch the new Nemo in his dreams, but he keeps getting woken up before he can make it to Slumberland.

Shanower has included many elements of McCay’s original comic, from the bed moving on a track to it being turned into an elevator of sorts, much like how the original comic has Nemo riding his bed through town while it walked on elongated legs. At the same time, Shanower has created many of his own elements. The worlds James Nemo and Bon-Bon encounter on their way to Slumberland are unique and spectacular, definitely the stuff of dreams. Shanower has also made a point to include the fact that James Nemo Summerton is not the original Nemo, but there is a chance the two are related.

Gabriel Rodriguez and colorist Nelson Daniel have done a fantastic job recreating the Art Noveau style that Winsor McCay was known for. The old characters are instantly recognizable, and the detail in each of the fantastical panels is really incredible. Daniel has updated the look of the comic with a more modern, vibrant color spectrum. Rodriguez has taken the original style and added even more intricate work to it, with a lot of fine line work. They have also followed McCay’s footsteps in the paneling. Most of the issue is pretty standard, but around pages eight and nine, the sizes and shapes of the panels begin to change, and the rollercoaster track the bed is riding on spills over into all of the panels on the page.
This first issue is a great start to a series that many readers will be coming to with high expectations. It pays homage to where comics began, while also using modern styles to make it relevant to today’s comic book reader. The issue also contains a few bonus pages of rough drafts of the art and script, as well as a brief essay on Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland. This comic is definitely one worth picking up, especially if you’ve got children who love comics.