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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Return to Slumberland. Leonardo Melo (Writer), Alberto Pessoa (Art). WP Comics (2017)

Stunning art work and audacious writing make for a deeply enjoyable and engaging comic that takes huge creative risks that pay off wonderfully. Windsor McCay's " Little Nemo in Slumberland" is a giant landmark in the history of comics, a extraordinary use of design and colours, the dreams of Little Nemo are a unique creation. This creates a problem for a creative team who wish to create a sequel to the strip, one of the many delights of this comic is how deftly  Leonardo Melo and Alberto Pessoa have sidestepped the problem and created a unique comic of their own.
A veteran of a war, Nemo, has been devastated by his experiences and is trapped by alcohol, depression and poverty, until he meets a woman who has just lost her living space to hijackers. Nemo offers to share his space with her and suddenly starts to dream again. In glorious colours Nemo returns to to the world of his dreams and finds that it is dying. The inhabitants are looking to him to save it, Slumberland has changed just as Nemo has done and the adult does not relish but accepts the challange. The journey is every bit as difficult as it should be.
For any reader who is familiar with the Windsor McCay stories the way that Leonardo Melo solves the problem of drawing inspiration from the strip while clearly forging his own story is fascinating. The cast share the same names and have other echo's this is the slightest jumping off point for a very different story that leads to a very different awaking. Nemo lost something precious in the war, Slumberland has lost someone vital, bitterness, frustration, fear and anxiety are the common threads between Nemo's wakeful and sleeping lives. The parallel between the two is obvious without ever being heavy handed, the two story threads are strong enough to stand by themselves and gain strength from the way they interact with each other.
Leonardo Melo has written a comic that does not require any prior knowledge, the story and the cast stand squarely on their own, the recovery of a lost soul has strong possibilities and Return To Slumberland makes great and moving use of them.
Alberto Pessoa's art is simply staggering, the jagged edges of the black and while waking world captures and amplifies the bleak and desperate situation Nemo is in. The explosion of colour in Slumberland appears optimistic and hopeful until the darker reality is exposed. The balance between the two, in particular the critical transitions between the two when Nemo wakes up are gripping.
The cast are fractionally stylised so that there is a degree of formality in their shapes and movements that adds to the presence and force.
Leonardo Melo and Alberto Pessoa have such a strong creative vision that they make the insanely heavy lifting of task trying to match a unique masterpiece look easy by simply not doing so. They have the confidence to take what should be a overwhelming starting point for their own deeply engaging story and using key themes from the original for their own purposes. A great comic.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy of Return to Slumberland, which you should to feel the scientifically proven effects that an increase in joy will deliver, it is available from

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