Here’s a real treat, courtesy of the Art Wood Collection of Caricature and Cartoon at the Library of Congress.
In 1910 Windsor McKay’s innovative comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland, featured a sequence in which Little Nemo and his companions accidentally land in Sing Sing Prison.
After a trip to Mars, Little Nemo, the dwarf Flip and the cannibal Impy fly back to New York in their dirigible spaceship, but they’re intercepted in the air by customs agents and decide to land at West Point instead. They fly up the Hudson River—awed by the Palisades—and set down in the Sing Sing Prison by mistake. As usual, in the last panel Little Nemo awakens in the morning in his own bed.
First published by Winsor McCay in October 1905 in The New York Herald, Little Nemo in Slumberland featured a small boy who traveled in his dreams each night to Slumberland, where he had fabulous adventures. The strip was notable for its delicate drawings, innovative layouts, fantastic architecture, and brilliant use of color. McKay’s work influenced many artists, most notably Maurice Sendak—whose book In the Night Kitchen was an homage to his favorite comic strip.
The images shown here are from the original pen-and-ink drawings by McKay. If you want to see what Little Nemo looked like in color check out the Comic Strip Library.