I am prone to fits of lust over really, really beautiful books, and no one gets me lustier faster than Sunday Press, publishers of the gigantic, marvellous "Little Nemo: Splendid Sundays" collections. These books collect the Sunday Little Nemo comics of Winsor McCay, a surrealist watercolor genius whose weekly strips were lush, gigantic paintings that took us through the dreamscape of Little Nemo, a charming and enigmatic boy living in turn-of-the-century America. And now there's a second volume: "Little Nemo in Slumberland, Many More Splendid Sundays."
I grew up seeing the Little Nemo strips reproduced in "large-format" hardcovers, typically 8.5x11, and I confess that I didn't really get what the fuss was about. The strips were small and smudgy, the type spidery and illegible. Then I saw the first Sunday Press collection, "So Many Splendid Sundays," and I experienced enlightenment. Publisher Peter Maresca has scanned, cleaned up and reproduced his favorite Nemo pages, at full size, 21" by 16", and at that size, Nemo is a completely different experience.
First of all, you can't read a book this big the way that you normally would. I couldn't read it at my desk chair -- even in my reading chair I barely fit (as you can see from these photos). The only way to really read these books is lying on your stomach on the carpet, the book open, chin propped on your hands, and you are, once again, 10 years old, reading the funnies on a lazy Sunday.
This second volume is every bit as charming and magic as the first. Mostly, of course, it's made of Nemo strips (120 of them!), but there are a handful of sweet little essays describing McCay's relationship to Coney Island (it was his muse) and to William Randolph Hearst, his publisher (and nemesis). There's also a Dinosaur Gertie flip book for you to cut and assemble, the perfect aperitif for your lazy Sunday with the funnies.