I’ve been meaning to scan this Little Nemo New Year’s story. It’s 1906 and Father Time takes Nemo to a massive grid of upcoming years from the 20th century. Nemo can touch a year and he suddenly becomes the age he would become in that year—which is easy to figure out because he was born in 1900. He’s a child of the century. Nemo’s curiosity gets the best of him as he touches 1999 and before you know it, he wakes up from being a decrepit 99-year-old in a nightgown.
I think a lot about time, the future and the past. For some reason I’ve drawn a lot of time periods—Madame Xanadu skipped through time and I recently did another time-related thing with Cecil Castelluci in Vertigo’s latest Ghost Anthology. Especially when it comes to decades in the 1900s, I get lost in different eras and form my own sense of weird, fake nostalgia.
In particular, I am REALLY interested in past predictions of the future—and how they represent the past more than they accurately predict anything. This cartoon doesn’t predict much more than what’s most predictable: one’s age. It doesn’t seem like Windsor McKay makes any attempt to predict clothing change. Maybe that’s because clothing didn’t change as quickly back then—and maybe in general there was less of a fixation on the future? And more fixation on aging? Or maybe I’m just making this up.
All I can say is, I got chills when I saw the above panel. Nemo has the entire century in front of him and it’s nothing more than a little entertainment. And his naivete unintentionally represents everyone at that time. Not that you can blame them: to them it was just a bunch of numbers that seemed increasingly overwhelming and impossible to reach. (To me it’s comparably insane that I am reading a cartoon from 1906.) But each year in front of him has MEANING to us now. Numbers become stories that form a detailed map—I look at each year and some will make me sad, while others bring fondness. And I didn’t even live in most of them. The future was ahead of Nemo, but I look at it and know he will experience two World Wars and the Great Depression in the first fifty years of his life. It will make him hide cash and crave traditionalism while his grandchildren rebel from the stability he built for them.
Meanwhile LITTLE Nemo seems more preoccupied with a year I remember being a lot lamer than it sounded. But it’s a year I lived in—Windsor McKay thought about a year I lived in, the year I turned 19. So in a vain sense it’s pretty cool.
Aaaaanyway. Speaking of the past and future, right now I’m working on a new series with Brandon Montclare (my writer from Halloween Eve) and the whole thing is AWESOME. A lot of it takes place in the 80’s, and the story is inspired by the wonder that is 1980s futuristic films. Brandon sure does write for his artists! It’s looking great and when we are able to say more about it or show you cool art, you’ll find it here.
Happy New Year’s Eve. Here’s to the Future!
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