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Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends

Created by Team Nemo

An indie game based on Winsor McCay's groundbreaking comic strip.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Backer only Discord invite!
over 1 year ago – Wed, Mar 10, 2021 at 04:00:47 PM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.

Week 2 pledge drive: help us get to 50% and unlock backer-exclusive features
over 1 year ago – Tue, Mar 09, 2021 at 05:26:03 AM

Dear backers,

Happy Monday! 

After our Nintendo Switch announcement yesterday, we want to keep the momentum for the campaign going and we need your help! 

Here's the deal: IF we can get to 50% funded ($35,000) by Saturday, March 13 at 11:59pm EST, all backers whose rewards include the game will receive: 

  • Backer-exclusive gold costumes for the characters (includes sparkly particle effect)
  •  Steam Early Access copy of the game (backers at $75 and above will still receive exclusive testing builds)

Help us get this dream game funded (and beyond!!) by sharing the campaign far and wide (reddit, Discord servers, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, anywhere you can!) 

We can do it everyone! 

Team Nemo

Sunday Funnies - Winsor McCay's non-Nemo comics
over 1 year ago – Mon, Mar 08, 2021 at 08:31:12 PM

Happy Sunday dear backers!

Usually I would do this on Sunday morning, but we had some other big announcements today, including bringing the game to Nintendo Switch! The positive response has been overwhelming, so we’re going to make sure we work extra hard to make it something awesome!

That being said! It’s time for some Sunday Funnies! What are these? Well, it’s our opportunity to talk about the history of Little Nemo, and some of the other comics that Winsor McCay created, which is the main topic for today. They also won't usually be this long, but since this is the first, we have to lay some historical groundwork. 

A brief intro to Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay in 1906 (source: Wikipedia)

First of all, the man himself. Winsor McCay was born Zenas Winsor McCay in either modern-day Ontario, Canada or Spring Lake, Michigan. Records of his birth have been lost, and McCay himself gave different dates of his birth, ranging from 1869 to 1871. From an early age, McCay was a talented artist, but his parents wanted him to have productive work and sent him to business school in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He would skip classes to take a train to Detroit to draw patrons in a local dime museum, and received drawing lessons from a professor at another nearby college. Becoming an artist was never not an option.

McCay eventually moved to Chicago, then to Cincinnati, Ohio where he did more dime museum work while doing freelance cartoon work for various magazines. In 1900 he got an illustrator and cartoonist position at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where he first worked in comic strips. Content warning if you look these up: some of this early work and even episodes of Little Nemo itself contain horrible racist caricatures common at that time. McCay was exceptional in many ways, but unfortunately not in this one.

McCay would eventually be lured away from the Enquirer and Ohio for a job at the New York Herald, where he worked alongside and built a rivalry with Richard F. Outcault, another comics pioneer. There he began a flurry of comic strips before arriving at arguably his most important work, Little Nemo in Slumberland. These other New York comics though, are our other topic today.

McCay's non-Nemo comics

First is a comic called Little Sammy Sneeze, first drawn in 1903. Sammy Sneeze was not McCay’s first strip for the Herald, these included earlier strips like Mister Goodenough or Phurious Phinish of Phoolish Philipe's Phunny Phrolics, but Sammy Sneeze was the first to really take off. Each strip featured 6 panels, where a young boy would be standing in some quiet or delicately-positioned place such as next to a tall department store display or at a chess game. The first 4 panels would display him beginning to sneeze and increase in intensity until he lets loose in frame 5, often completely destroying the place he is with a powerful gust of wind. The 6th frame always featured Sammy being literally kicked out by an adult.

Little Sammy Sneeze from September 19, 1904, where Sammy destroys the work of a clockmaker. (Source: Wikipedia)

Sammy Sneeze would demonstrate themes prominent in McCay’s other work, such as sequential art (Sammy’s sneeze occurs over 5 frames showing the passage of time), repeated motifs (Sammy destroying the adults’ world and being kicked out), and sometimes even meta-narrative. The final Sammy Sneeze strip sees him sneeze his own comic into oblivion.

Little Sammy Sneeze - September 24, 1905. Sammy sneezes away his own comic (source: Wikipedia)

The next comic we’ll look at is Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, a hugely popular comic that McCay would draw from 1904-1911 until he left the Herald to sign with William Randolph Hearst’s New York American newspaper. Like many of McCay’s other comics, Rarebit Fiend always followed the same plot structure: a person finds themselves in an increasingly bizarre and at times horrifying situation which would reach a climax right before the person woke up. Every time, the dreamer would express regret at eating Welsh Rarebit, a dish made of a rich cheese sauce served over toast.

In this Rarebit Fiend strip, the dreamer is literally haunted by the cheesy dish he ate before bed. (Source: Internet Archive)

Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo form interesting mirrors of one another: one is a mature and sometimes terrifying look at latent anxieties, while the other is a whimsical childhood fantasy. Each ends with the dreamer waking up and, at least in Nemo’s early strips, blaming the dream on food. Given the tonal difference between Rarebit Fiend and McCay’s other strips, his editor asked him to use a pseudonym when drawing it. He chose “Silas” after the trash collector that worked in Herald Square. At times, it seems like Rarebit Fiend infringes on Nemo, with some episodes having the former’s darker tone (an idea that’s inspiring our approach to Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends’ villains.)

The March 21st 1909 Little Nemo in Slumberland strip. It depicts situations and a level of horror more common for Rarebit Fiend than for a Little Nemo comic (and notably features none of the usual cast besides Nemo himself)

The last comic we’ll look at is A Pilgrim’s Progress by Mister Bunion, which depicts the adventures of an everyman trying to rid himself of a valise labeled “Dull Care.” This comic closely mirrors the premise of John Bunyan's 1678 Christian Allegory A Pilgrim's Progress, that tells a similar story (albeit far less humorously) of a man seeking relief from the burden of his own sin. McCay's comic version ran from June of 1905 until 1909. The briefcase is understood to be Mister Bunion’s mundane cares and worries of his everyday life. Bunion tries again and again to get rid of the case, whether by pawning it off on another unfortunate soul, selling it, or flat out abandoning it. In all cases though, he is inevitably reunited with it, furthering his suffering.

A Pilgrim's Progress by Mister Bunion from July 10, 1905. In this strip, Mister Bunion tries to blow his dull cares up with dynamite, only launching them into the air so they later come crashing down on his head while he's enjoying a literal walk in the park. (Source: University of Richmond Pilgrim's Progress collection)

While not McCay’s full catalog of non-Nemo comics, these ones show common elements of McCay’s work such as sequential art, dreams, or wry social humor. They also hold up compared to many comics of the era, with themes that resonate with modern readers. That's all for today's Sunday Funnies, we hope you liked it! 


Be well dear backers, and we'll see you in the funny papers!


Chris and Team Nemo

25% and Nintendo Switch news
over 1 year ago – Mon, Mar 08, 2021 at 03:55:57 PM

Hi Everyone it's Ben,

First of all we've made it to 25% funded - thank you so much for being wonderful backers and community members!  You are incredible!

We've been following all of the feedback, and have absolutely seen the demand for console versions of Nemo!  The Nintendo Switch version has been the most frequently requested, so after some chatting with the rest of the team we've decided to prioritize putting the game on Switch.

We initially had the console versions as stretch goals, because of the hidden costs of porting.  Testing, first-party compliance, SDK integration, and console optimization is a significant commitment in both time and money.  Console ports have always been on our long-term plans, but by shuffling some things around, we can commit to getting the game out for you on Nintendo Switch.

We are also looking at publishing partners, and console plans are absolutely part of this!  Hitting or exceeding our Kickstarter goals will absolutely help prove to these partners that there is a demand and it's worth the cost and effort to bring the game to other platforms.

If you've chosen a digital copy of the game as a perk, you'll have the option to select Switch as your backer reward.  This version may still ship later than the PC release, simply because of things like the rigorous testing that needs to go into console releases, but we're absolutely making this a reality and a priority!

Again, thanks for all the support and feedback!  We sincerely appreciate all the passion we've seen around Nemo and can't wait to bring this game to you.  Now on Nintendo Switch!

- Ben and Team Nemo

Saturday Night Dev Stream!
over 1 year ago – Mon, Mar 08, 2021 at 12:46:02 PM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.