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CREATOR PROFILE:

GEORGE HERRIMAN

Biography:

“Well, here’s the old man’s picture. Any fella with a face like that should keep it a secret from the public, and I can’t see how you’re going to get any circulation publishing mushes like that. Once, when a youth, I aspired to become a baker, a kneader of dough, to mould bread and fashion a doughnut or stencil a cookie. Full of the spirit of adolescence I buried a dead mouse in a loaf of bread once - it found its way into a tough family and not only did I get a sweet trimming but I got the air also. In another bakeshop, I thought it cute to salt the doughnuts instead of the accustomed sugaring. Wam!! Stars and everything - out on the pavement again - a good baker at large. Another shop; and I slit a 200 pound sack of flour over a four foot five inch baker - we barely got him out alive, when we did, looking like a pose plastique, he took away the last remnant of ambition out of me. Then I became a cartoonist - as a sort of revenge on the world. We’re doing stuff for Mr. W. R. Hearst, but don’t let him know anything about it. Oy, if he should know! And if you want to know it, we love the desert - the dry (notice Dook, not a Chicago Desert, dry) old Desert, and that’s where you will find us - when the last drop of ink is out of our bottle and the pen snaps.”
George Herriman (1880-1944), Ziff’s magazine, 1926.

Art Spiegelman says:
Herriman’s deco-doodle Navajo rug of a comic strip just gets better with age… The infernal triangle of Mouse, Kat and Pupp has been interpreted as the forces of Anarchy, Democracy and Fascism by some; as Ego and Id and Super-ego by others. It is, of course, all that and blissfully less. What Picasso and Braque did to wine bottles and guitars in the Heroic Cubist days, Herriman did to narrative itself. He gave us all our stories simultaneously. Behlod the comic strip’s proudest achievement: Brickism!

Chris Ware says:
I think George Herriman’s Krazy Kat may be the only comic strip that has a genuine internal life to it. To me, I never feel like I’m looking at drawings ‘of’ things in Krazy Kat, I feel like I’m seeing the things themselves. It feels like the most inevitable work I’ve ever seen in comics. I believe his characters in a way that I don’t believe any other characters.

Bill Watterson says:
Despite the predictability of the characters’ proclivities, the strip never sinks into formula or routine. Often the actual brick tossing is only anticipated. The simple plot is endlessly renewed through constant innovation, pace manipulations, unexpected results, and most of all, the quiet charm of each story’s presentation. The magic of the strip is not so much in what it says, but in how it says it. It’s a more subtle kind of cartooning than we have today… Krazy Kat was not very successful as a commercial venture, but it was something better. It was art.

Grant Morrison says:
Krazy Kat is so organic, so unique, that to attempt to write critically about it would be like writing a dissertation on a tree. Better simply to look. Certain aspects of the aesthetic experience lie beyond the limitations of vocabulary.

Umberto Eco says:
In Krazy Kat the poetry originated from a certain lyrical stubbornness in the author, who repeated his tale ad infinitum, varying it always but sticking to its theme. It was thanks only to this that the mouse’s arrogance, the dog’s unrewarded compassion, and the cat’s desperate love could arrive at what many critics felt was a genuine state of poetry, an uninterrupted elegy based on sorrowing innocence.

Michael Chabon says:
One could argue the claim, confidently, pursuasively, and with an all-but-inexhaustible store of ever fresh evidence, that George Herriman was one of the very great artists in any medium of the 20th century.

Essential Reading:


Krazy & Ignatz
14 Volumes, 1913-1944
Fantagraphics

Krazy Kat adores Ignatz Mouse. Ignatz hates Krazy Kat and throws bricks at her head. Offissa Pup loves Krazy Kat and, in an attempt to protect her, throws Ignatz in jail. This simple premise sustained Krazy Kat for over 30 years, with George Herriman playing out endless variations on the same theme in a continually evolving and organic comic, using ever changing formats and layouts, set within surreal and ever-shifting desert landscapes.



Krazy Kat: A Celebration of Sundays
Sunday Press Books, 2010

Finally, Krazy Kat as it was meant to be seen: 135 full-size Sunday pages from 1916-1944, plus dozens more early comics from George Herriman. It’s the eternal triangle of the comics - Kat, Mouse, and Pupp, along with the catalytic brick. Here are their glorious, poignant, and hilarious stories from the genius of George Herriman, reprinted for the first time in their original size and colors. Included in the 14 x 17-inch collection is a sampling of all Herriman’s creations for the Sunday newspaper comics from 1901-1906: Professor Otto, The Two Jackies, Major Ozone, and more, many of which have never been reprinted before. Now, 100 years after Ignatz tossed his first brick, step back in time to delight in the timeless tales of America’s great comic strip artist and his greatest creation, Krazy Kat.



The Comic Art Of George Herriman
by McDonnell, de Havon & O’Connell
Abrams Books, 1986

Patrick ‘Mutts’ McDonnell is the co-author of this comprehensive biography of George Herriman, featuring a wealth of background material and including reprints of many Sunday Krazy Kat pages. Essential reading for all Krazy Kat fans.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Krazy Kat Sunday Page Reprints:
Fantagraphics are reprinting all the Krazy Kat weekly Sunday pages from 1916 to 1944 in what will total a 14 volume set, designed by Chris Ware.
Krazy & Ignatz: 1916-1918: Love In A Kestle Or Love In A Hut
Krazy & Ignatz: 1919-1921: A Kind, Benevolent & Amiable Brick
Krazy & Ignatz: 1925-1926: There Is A Heppy Lend Fur, Fur Awa-a-ay
Krazy & Ignatz: 1927-1928: Love Letters In Ancient Brick
Krazy & Ignatz: 1929-1930: A Mice, A Brick, A Lovely Night
Krazy & Ignatz: 1931-1932: A Kat a’Lilt With Song
Krazy & Ignatz: 1933-1934: Necromancy By The Blue Bean Bush
Krazy & Ignatz: 1935-1936: A Wild Warmth Of Chromatic Gravy
Krazy & Ignatz: 1937-1938: Shifting Sands Dusts Its Cheeks
Krazy & Ignatz: 1939-1940: A Brick Stuffed With Moom-bims
Krazy & Ignatz: 1941-1942: A Ragout Of Raspberries
Krazy & Ignatz: 1943-1944: He Nods In Quiescent Siesta

Krazy Kat Daily Strip Reprints:
Krazy & Ignatz: Tiger Tea (2010)
The Kat Who Walked In Beauty: The Panoramic Dalies Of 1920 (2007)

Other Books:
Krazy Kat & the Art of George Herriman: A Celebration (2011)
Krazy Kat: A Celebration of Sundays (2010)
Baron Bean (2010)
The Early Comics Of George Herriman (2009)
The Comic Art Of George Herriman (1986)

Links:

Online Resources:
Paul Gravett’s Articles
Herriman’s Krazy Kounty

Publishers:
Fantagraphics
Pacific Comics Club
Sunday Press Books
Yoe Studios