Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Here's How The 1905 Little Nemo Comics Inspired Netflix's Slumberland

The origins of Netflix's "Slumberland" date all the way back to the early 20th century. The Jason Momoa-starring adventure draws inspiration from the comic strip "Little Nemo in Slumberland" by Winsor McCay, which ran from 1905 to 1927, per The Hollywood Reporter

The story of "Slumberland" follows young Nemo (Marlow Barkley) in a new world trying to reunite with her late father, Peter (Kyle Chandler). She is partnered with Flip (Momoa), a horned creature sporting a costume Momoa helped personally inspire, as the actor himself admitted in an interview with Screen Rant. "Slumberland" director Francis Lawrence said he actually wasn't aware of the source material when he was first circling the film. After making his way through McCay's work, the director found himself interested in creating something drawing from the original idea but existing in a more contemporary universe. 

"I saw some of the stuff, but the idea was always to sort of take the original idea from the source material and then kind of like jump off with it and then create our own stories and our own look and bring it into a more contemporary world," Lawrence told Coming Soon

So how much did the original comic strip influence the decades-later film it inspired? 

Slumberland gender-swapped the main character

One notable change from the comic strip to Netflix's "Slumberland" is that Nemo has been changed from a young boy to a girl. The character teaming with Jason Momoa's Flip to find her late father is also original to the movie. Besides that, the comic strip and movie have the same concept of a child named Nemo who enters a dream world full of fantastical creatures and adventures. 

Francis Lawrence also noted in an interview that the character of Flip took inspiration not just from the comic strip, but also from Lawrence, Momoa, and costume designer Trish Summerville, though the character still carries the same name in both the strip and the film.

"I didn't have that much knowledge of the original source material, I had a fresh start on Flip. I knew I wanted Jason to play the role, because I knew that in person, he has a lot of the elements needed to play a character like this," the director told The Wrap, adding the trio crafted the lively look of the character together.

"Slumberland" is a significant adaptation of Winsor McCay's comic strip with a reported budget of $150 million, but it's actually not the first time the fantasy has made its way to screens, per The Guardian

Chris Columbus previously helped adapt Slumberland

Before there was "Slumberland," there was "Little Nemo: Dreams in Slumberland." The animated musical was co-scripted by "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" director Chris Columbus and directed by Masami Hata and William T. Hurtz, per IMDb

The film didn't rake up all that much business at the box office, pulling in less than $2 million, via Box Office Mojo. On home video, however, it did find some success going on to become the fourth highest-grossing children's movie tape in 1993, per Billboard. The animated film carries differences from the new adaptation — the main character remains a boy, for instance — but Francis Lawrence still said watching the 1992 feature was part of his research to prepare for his "Slumberland."

"Then I went back and I got that big Taschen book; I don't know if you've seen that, but there's this big beautiful Taschen book with, I think, almost, if not all of the comic strips that Winsor McCay did. So obviously looked through all of that and saw the Chris Columbus animated film," Lawrence said in an interview with Coming Soon, adding his new version still decided to forge a path of its own, diverging the source material and earlier adaptation.