On October 15, 1905, Winsor McCay’s most beloved character debuted as the title character in the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland in James Gordon Bennett’s newspaper, the New York Herald. McCay had begun his career as a comic artist two years earlier at the Cincinnati Enquirer with his first comic strip, Tales of the Jungle Imps, including characters who would reappear in Little Nemo.
Little Nemo in Slumberland ran in the Herald for several years, until April 23, 1911. Just a few days later, the strip reappeared in William Randolph Hearst’s paper on April 30, 1911 under the title In the Land of Wonderful Dreams, where it remained until McCay went back to work for Bennett in 1914. During the 1920s, the strip was revived until it finally came to a conclusion in 1927, and McCay passed away in 1934.
Today, the strip is still regarded as one of the best in comics history. Nemo was a little boy and the strip centered around his adventures in his attempts to get to Dreamland. The king of Dreamland, Morpheus, had summoned Nemo to be a playmate for his daughter, the Princess. In each strip, Nemo encountered all kinds of unusual friends, enemies and obstacles, all set in an appropriately dream-like state, and in the very last panel, he would wake up, unable to reach Dreamland.
Finally, McCay allowed Nemo to reach the gates of Dreamland. But it took four more months of adventures to reach the Princess. Part of the problem was a character named Flip, who wore a hat with the words “Wake Up” written on it. Every time Nemo saw Flip, he woke up, and his adventure was over. At first an enemy, Flip gradually turned into a friendly character.