Land of Nod

Some have called THE LAND OF NOD a 'midnight funnybook' or a 'non-stop cavalcade of free-associative weirdness'. That may be true, but it's also a drifting, dream-like cartoon universe full of strange, semi-anthropomorphic kids that like root beer and comic books. There's Merv and Dave, goofball buddies who spend their time playing mean tricks on each other, running from Yeti, and thwarting the invasions of Devil Martians. There's Val, the cute girl who woos all the boys in the clubhouse; Joey, the toothless expert on the greatest comic book ever, Jumbo Head; and Hector, the skeleton boy with the bad smell. There's giant bugs, talking dolphins, and Captain Rightful, the incompetent, armless superhero. And presiding over it all is Nod, the pointy-eared dream gremlin with the Cheshire-cat grin.

The Land of Nod began as the first feature in Jay Stephens' first comic book series, SIN in 1991. The character of Nod was inspired by an incident as a teenager. He and a friend (Dave) had heard that dreaming was an absolute necessity for human beings, and that people will begin to have conscious dreams if they stay awake too long. In trying out this experiment, Jay 'saw' what appeared to be a Felix the Cat type animated character run through the room and vanish under a table. Jay began doodling the strange little visitor who would become known as Nod. This weird, hallucinatory experience is the basis for the Land Of Nod comic stories.

The early underground comic SIN was a big hit with the budding 'alternative' scene, and the 20 year old Jay was deluged with fan mail. Graffiti and tattoos featuring characters from the series began popping up all over the world. Comic book critics started paying attention and writing about the newcomer, so Jay did what all self-destructive punks do in such a situation... he quit.

The Land of Nod characters returned in a collected edition (the Land Of Nod Treasury) in 1994, and a new series under the Land Of Nod name was begun in 1996, but featuring different characters every issue. The only connecting tissue between the disparate stories was a guaranteed appearance by Nod. A second Land Of Nod series in 1997 followed the same pattern, with Jetcat starring and Nod making only cameo appearances... Jay's punk rock alter-ego was fading into the background.

Nod's last gasp was as a monthly comic strip in the alternative music magazine !*@# EXCLAIM!, beginning in 1997. The full run can be seen on the Jay Stephens' Funnies site.