Today marks the 107th anniversary of illustrator Winsor McCay’s iconic comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland. Today’s Google Doodle is an animated comic short in which Little Nemo tumbles through one of his dream sequences. Each click of the tab at the bottom of the panel reveals another strip of the comic Doodle.
McCay’s work has influenced generations of illustrators; Walt Disney was reportedly among those who were inspired by his work. Little Nemo ran in the New York Herald on Sundays from 1905 to 1911, sharing the adventures of a young boy trying to reach the Princess of Slumberland. The strip was printed under the pseudonym “Silas.”
The Google Doodle, titled “Little Nemo in Google-land,” has eight comic panels that drop down singularly or in small groups. Clicking on the doodle activates the animation, which first colors in the letters in the Google logo in their traditional colors.
Starting the animation throws Little Nemo out of bed, to fall down the page. He is first caught by the Princess of Slumberland, then travels with her in an orb to the next sequence. The orb bounces across a castle hallway with a floor decoratively marked with Google’s small “g.”
As the orb travels into a large room filled with oversized, green lowercase “L”s from the Google logo, it cracks open. Little Nemo and the Princess find themselves sitting atop a wooden bed with oversized, spindly legs, which walks them across the room.
On the other side, the bed sways and Little Nemo falls off, hanging on to the end of the bed. Clicking on the comic drops him into the next panel.
In this section, he falls straight through a tall comic panel with a sinister moon looking over a castle stairway leading directly into the sea. The wall of the staircase is guarded with men holding banners that begin to spell out “Google.”
Finally, Little Nemo lands back in his room, halfway fallen out of his bed. Clicking on the hanging banner one final time takes the user to a search results page for “Winsor McCay.”
Winsor McCay was born in Detroit. His tombstone reads that he was born in 1869, though this has been debated since his death. His career really began in Cincinnati, where he worked for the Enquirer. His first major comic strip began running in that paper in 1903. A Tale of the Jungle Imps ran under the pseudonym Felix Fiddle and continued for 43 episodes.
After his work on Little Nemo, McCay went to work for William Randolph Hearst as an editorial cartoonist, on the morning newspaper New York American. It was during this time that he created another of his famous characters.
Historians believe his animated film “Gertie the Dinosaur” was the first example of an animated character with a likeable, realistic personality, to whom viewers could relate. That film was created using thousands of drawings sketched out on rice paper. In 1934, McCay suffered a cerebral embolism and passed away. Illustrators and comics will forever remember him as one of the great innovators in comics.
Today’s Google homepage features the latest of a series of interactive logos. Recently, Google also displayed:
- An HTML5 synthesizer users could play and use to record songs from the homepage, in celebration of Bob Moog’s birthday.
- A hurdles game in honor of the 2012 London Olympics.
- A Turing Machine code-breaking game, also in HMTL5, in honor of Alan Turing’s 100th birthday.
See a video of the Little Nemo in Slumberland Google Doodle in action: