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Nemo!
Ray Bradbury
Subterranean Press, 171 pages

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is one of the greatest SF and fantasy writers of our time. Born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920, he authored such classics of the genre as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Farenheit 451 (1953) by his early 30s, and continues to produce important work today.
In 1990, while at a summit meeting in New York, Mikhail Gorbachov made a special trip to visit Bradbury, his "favourite author," whose works he claimed to have read in the original versions. Bradbury is American fantasy's great ambassador.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Illustrated Man
SF Site Review: The Golden Apples of the Sun and Other Stories
SF Site Review: Where Everything Ends
SF Site Review: The Martian Chronicles
SF Site Review: Masks
SF Site Review:Summer Morning, Summer Night
SF Site Review: Moby Dick: A Screenplay
SF Site Review: Fahrenheit 451
SF Site Review: Dinosaur Tales
SF Site Review: From the Dust Returned
SF Site Review: Dandelion Wine
SF Site Review: Green Shadows, White Whale
SF Site Review: Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines
SF Site Review: Driving Blind
SF Site Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes
SF Site Review: The Illustrated Man

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Richard A. Lupoff

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Nemo! At some point in the 1940s, I came across a used copy of Superworld Comics, a short-lived periodical (three issues) published by Hugo Gernsback. We remember Hugo for Amazing Stories and its scores of descendents and imitators published since 1926, but Hugo was into all sorts of publishing ventures including a brief foray into the realm of comic books.

Superworld Comics featured a less than spectacular array of characters, the most notable of whom was Hip Knox, the Super Hypnotist. Small wonder that Superworld didn't last longer, despite the distinctive pen-and-ink stylings of the great Frank R. Paul. But what caught my attention most in Superworld was a feature called "Little Nemo in Slumberland," written and drawn by Winsor McKay. As a small child I had no understanding of publishing practices and no concept of the difference between new and reprinted material. It was all the same to me.

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" chronicled the experiences of a little boy in his dreamworld. Each night he would don his pajamas, climb into his brass bed, and soar off to fabulous adventures in marvelous cities populated by fascinating characters and weird monsters. Time and space were annihilated. Even Nemo's bed came to life, lengthening and stretching its legs and carrying the youngster away from his home.

Think "Calvin and Hobbs" meets "Flash Gordon," 1911 style.

"Little Nemo in Slumberland" ran in Sunday Hearst newspapers -- huge, magnificently drawn, color pages -- from 1905 to 1914. There was a second series, 1924-1927. I'm not sure which series the Superworld pages came from, but they were just marvelous. They enchanted me then and they are as wonderful now.

McKay created several other comic strips, and was also one of the pioneers of film animation. He personally drew the first Nemo motion picture in 1911. His "Gertie the Dinosaur" (1914) was the progenitor of every screen monster from King Kong to Fantasia to Reptilicus to Avatar.

And now, it seems, there is to be a full-length animated feature version of Little Nemo in Slumberland with a script by no less than science fiction superstar Ray Bradbury. The Subterranean Press edition consists of Bradbury's script; I have seen only an advance copy of the book so I have no idea what graphics, if any, will be included. I hope there will be a lot, because McKay's creation, while faithfully rendered into script form by Bradbury, really needs McKay's images.

Fortunately, there have been numerous albums of Little Nemo in Slumberland pages in recent years, and other Winsor McKay books as well. Publishers include Fantagraphics, Taschen, and Checker, and I recommend them all. Even to speak of Little Nemo in script form, with all due respect to Mr. Bradbury (whom I revere, and whose works have inspired and delighted me almost as long as Winsor McKay's) is like speaking of The Last Supper in script form or the Lincoln Memorial in script form. No words, no matter how passionately conceived and no matter how skillfully rendered, can do justice to the imagery.

Buy the reprinted Little Nemo albums and pray that the film is as good as the one Winsor McKay made in 1911.

Copyright © 2013 Richard A. Lupoff

Richard A. Lupoff is a prolific and versatile author of fantasy, mystery, and science fiction. His recent books include a novel, The Emerald Cat Killer, a multi-genre collection of stories, Dreams, and the forthcoming novel Rookie Blues. His chief contribution to Lovecraftiana is Marblehead: A Novel of H.P. Lovecraft, available at www.ramblehouse.com.


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