Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Nemo! is another one of those unfilmed Bradbury screenplays, but this one is slightly different as it's based on characters and stories by someone else, the cartoonist Winsor McCay. Bradbury was a frequent self-adaptor, but only rarely did he adapt the work of others.
Nemo! was written in the early 1980s for producer Gary Kurtz (of Star Wars fame), but the film spent years in development hell. It's based on McCay's early twentieth-century comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, and although it uses McCay's characters and premise, it apparently takes off into a free-flowing narrative which is as much Bradbury as it is McCay. (I say all this based on what I have heard; I haven't yet had time to read Nemo! from cover to cover, and nor have I read all of McCay's original strip!)
Eventually a film based on Little Nemo was released, ten years after Bradbury began work on the screenplay: Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland. Virtually nothing of Bradbury's screenplay ended up in the completed film, but he did receive a credit for the screen concept.
This convoluted production history is not mentioned in the Subterranean book. Although it is a beautifully produced volume, it is completely devoid of any of the introductions, forewords, afterwords or contextual essays I have come to expect from this publisher. Nor does it have any illustrations or any visuals from McCay's strip. Maybe that would have blown the budget. It does have a delightful cover, which gives a tempting suggestion of what a Bradbury-McCay animated feature film might have looked like.
Subterranean's page for the book is here, and if you want to explore McCay's original adventures of Nemo, you can find a collection of them at The Comic Strip Library.
*Update: it has been brought to my attention that, although Subterranean has sold out of this book, Amazon currently has stock. Details are here.