The Trippy World of Nemo’s Oz

In class while discussing Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, the general consensus of the class was that the themes in the comic were “trippy” or “strange” what with the fantastical creatures appearing in Nemo’s dreams and the creepy ways that Nemo appears to “die” at the end of each comic. In a particular comic from 1905-11-12 which depicts Nemo trying to get to King Morpheus’ castle with the help of the fairy Cheecaumo. This particular comic strip is “trippy” and is reminiscent of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

(c) Winsor McCay, 1905
(c) Winsor McCay, 1905


First is the fairy help/guide that helps the main character. In Little Nemo the helper is the fairy Cheecaumo. Cheecaumo is depicted as a blonde, white woman, with fairy wings, and a wand. Similarly in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, there is the Glinda the Good Witch of the South. Glinda, like Cheecaumo is described to be a white woman with blonde hair sporting wings and a wand. They both a friendly and try their best to help their young charges with their quest. Another similarity is the path. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  the path is the Yellow Brick Road the leads Dorothy to the Wizard. In Little Nemo its a mostly yellow road held up by “slaves” that resemble monkeys.


Now, outside those characteristic similarities, there is the aforementioned “trippy” aspect to both stories. In Dorothy’s story the out-there aspects of the story is can be found in her traveling companions, one of which is a talking lion, the Wizard who cries from his eyebrows, and flying monkeys wear suits. In Nemo’s story it can be found in the the path that is moving and trying to capture him for the “slaves” and the fact that Nemo actually dies at the end of the comic and wakes up back in the real world.

The Wonderful World of Oz was published in 1900 so is seems hard to imagine that Little Nemo, which came out in 1905, wasn’t influenced in any part by the story of Dorothy.