Organized by Locust Moon, a Philadelphia comics shop and gallery, and Locust Moon Press, its small press imprint, Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, an ambitious Kickstarter project to fund a tribute book to Little Nemo creator Winsor McCay, has blown past its initial goal of $50,000 and raised more than $100,000 with a week to go. And no wonder: the oversized hardcover tribute features more than a 100 stellar contemporary comics artists creating full-color broadsheet-sized comics in homage to the general style of McCay in a book project that will eventually be distributed to the comics shop market and general book trade.
Winsor McCay (1867-1871 [his birth date is uncertain]-1934) was both an acclaimed cartoonist and a pioneering animator. Started in 1905, McCay’s newspaper comics strip Little Nemo, the story of a little boy who has fantastic adventures each night in his dreams only to awaken in the last panel, is considered a masterpiece of cartooning. Much like the original, the Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream comics strips feature lavish color and wildly imaginative layouts and drawings.
“We got the idea to launch this project about 2 ½ years ago. We wanted to do a tribute to the broadsheet format and to the most intimidating cartoonist of all time,” said Josh O’Neill, one of the organizers of the project and cofounder of Locust Moon comics shop. This isn’t Locust Moon’s first publication or its first Kickstarter project. O’Neill, along with Locust Moon co-owner Chris Stevens and Andrew Carl, editor-in-chief of Locust Moon Press, also used Kickstarter to fund Quarter Moon, a quarterly anthology of comics and illustration. Locust Moon also published Once Upon a Time Machine, a full color anthology published by Dark Horse Press.
O’Neill said the project was inspired by Peter Maresca’s Sunday Press, a pioneering archival publishing venture that releases hardcover collections of meticulously restored classic newspaper comics including Little Nemo. For Dream Another Dream, contemporary cartoonists such as Paul Pope, Peter Bagge, Carla Speed McNeil, Box Brown, Nate Powell, Jill Thompson, Ronald Wimberly—the list of artists is extraordinary—create their own inventive versions of the Little Nemo story, complete with the famous concluding “wake-up panel,” in each comic. Locust Moon is also working with Maresca and the press’ production is based on Maresca’s model and uses the Sunday Press’s printer.
O’Neill said the group just started talking to cartoonists at various comics shows and the project began to grow. “We knew cartoonists Farel Dalrymple and J. G. Jones and few others. But long before we had any sample pages we would just walk up to people and ask them to get involved,” O’Neill said. “David Petersen and John Cassaday were early supporters. Gradually we collected pages to show. We met Paul Pope at MoCCA in New York and he and others promoted the project to other artists,” O’Neill said.
The final project will feature 140 artists. The book will be hardcover, 16-inches by 21-inches and144 pages. A limited edition will be available for sale at SPX, the annual indie comics festival, in September, and copies will go one sale to the general public via the the Locust Moon website in October. Locust Moon Press will distribute 5,000 copies to the general public in Spring 2015. The press is is negotiations with Diamond Comics Distributors for distribution.
Proceeds from the sale of the book will be split 50/50 with the artists, O’Neill said.
The Locust Moon comics shop is a 1,800 square foot store, half retail space and half a gallery and event space that supports signings, workshops and more. O’Neill was quick to acknowledge the influence and support of Peter Maresca, whose Sunday Press publications are universally acknowledged as setting the standard for archival preservation as well as design and production.
“All we wanted to do is create something that can sit next to Peter’s books on the shelf,” O’Neill said. Winsor McCay fans all across the internet appear to believe that Locust Moon got it right.