We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Looking back at the Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips, it’s easy to admire Winsor McCay’s creation: In large, colorful, finely drawn strips, the title character suffers through bizarre fantasies (say, a giant turkey eating the family home) but always wakes up, safe in bed, in the last panel. Though Nemo’s dream world taps into the freaky and frightening aspects of childhood—showing “dreams that we all had as children but few of us remember,” Where the Wild Things Are creator Maurice Sendak once wrote—Swann Foundation Fellow Katherine Roeder explores the comic’s less ageless sources in her talk, “Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy and Mass Culture in the Work of Winsor McCay.” McCay’s nocturnal playland, Roeder contends, draws from the commercial world his early-20th-century readers saw around them, incorporating the designs of amusement parks, department stores, and print ads—which goes to show that even the most surreal fantasies have mundane roots. Roeder speaks at noon at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, 6th Floor Dining Room A, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. (202) 707-9115.