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Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman

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Krazy Kat, created by George Herriman, made its debut in 1913. During its 31 year run, it was enormously popular with the public and with many writers, artists, and intellectuals of the time. An innovative cartoon masterpiece and the first major biographical work on the artist himself.


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Krazy Kat, created by George Herriman, made its debut in 1913. During its 31 year run, it was enormously popular with the public and with many writers, artists, and intellectuals of the time. An innovative cartoon masterpiece and the first major biographical work on the artist himself.

30 review for Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    This book is great, especially for the student of comics history, interested in comics origins. Herriman is one of the greats, one you have to know, who did a lot of comics over the years, but is best known for Krazy Kat, begun as a strip in 1913, and championed and funded by no less a comics sugar daddy than William Randolph Hearst (yes, the tyrant loved comics and insisted on them in all his syndicated newspapers, so a few comics artists and cartoonists made a living with his support for decad This book is great, especially for the student of comics history, interested in comics origins. Herriman is one of the greats, one you have to know, who did a lot of comics over the years, but is best known for Krazy Kat, begun as a strip in 1913, and championed and funded by no less a comics sugar daddy than William Randolph Hearst (yes, the tyrant loved comics and insisted on them in all his syndicated newspapers, so a few comics artists and cartoonists made a living with his support for decades), got a life time contract from him to continue the strip until his death in 1941. Strips/cartoons about cats and mice and dogs were and are in many ways the stuff of comics, or central to the enterprise, a way to make people laugh and a way to comment on the human condition and social issues. But this animal schtick began back then, more than a hundred years ago with him and others. But this is a narrative that depends on something bizarre (and funny--strange but funny)--a masochistic mouse and a cat--beaned strip after strip by bricks the mouse throws--who sees the mouse's attentions as love. There are plenty more bizarre things, too, and more bizarre, to our sensibilities, which I like. Herriman loved the southwest and sets his strips often in the desert. They are not conventionally drawn, sometimes very sketchy, with idiosyncratic and linguistically complex dialogue--Herriman liked dialects of all kinds--and are at times goofy, and at other times just surreal. Sometimes hard to read, decipher. Sometimes the humor, decades later, is lost on me. This edition is 1999, the text having been written in 1986, a loving scholarly and archival tribute by Patrick McDonnell, Karen O'Connell and George Riley de Havemon, who write biographical essays, and essays about his art, not just Krazy Kat. And lots of strips that would otherwise be lost. So we have them to thank. Black Rat and Little Tommy Lost by Clyde Closser, among others, pay tribute to Herriman in their comics. Worth checking out, comics history fans.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ALLEN

    KRAZY KAT, the anarchic American comic strip that played in American newspaper in the middle of the 20th Century, simply refuses to be forgotten -- it's that good. This intro book has the dual distinctions of being an economical method into the KRAZY world, and offering valuable background and numerous panels from the long-discontinued strip. Caveat: Becoming a krazy kollector is not cheap, so here's a good way to test the waters without going all krazy prematurely. Highly recommended. Also KRAZY KAT, the anarchic American comic strip that played in American newspaper in the middle of the 20th Century, simply refuses to be forgotten -- it's that good. This intro book has the dual distinctions of being an economical method into the KRAZY world, and offering valuable background and numerous panels from the long-discontinued strip. Caveat: Becoming a krazy kollector is not cheap, so here's a good way to test the waters without going all krazy prematurely. Highly recommended. Also highly recommended: , a solid biography which emphasizes the social, racial and career struggles of KRAZY creator/artist George Herriman.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    In my eyes, Krazy Kat is best appreciated as an art history text rather than as a source of entertainment. Don't get me wrong, the slapstick imagery of an embittered mouse repeatedly lobbing a brick at a dopey cat's head never really gets old. I also can't even properly comprehend Herriman's influence in the realm of comics, as he was clearly an incredibly ambitious artist. His early experimentation with landscapes and layouts was groundbreaking and lighthearted. But outside of 'appreciating' Kra In my eyes, Krazy Kat is best appreciated as an art history text rather than as a source of entertainment. Don't get me wrong, the slapstick imagery of an embittered mouse repeatedly lobbing a brick at a dopey cat's head never really gets old. I also can't even properly comprehend Herriman's influence in the realm of comics, as he was clearly an incredibly ambitious artist. His early experimentation with landscapes and layouts was groundbreaking and lighthearted. But outside of 'appreciating' Krazy Kat, I rarely outright 'enjoyed' it as I was reading. I blame much of this on my failings as a reader (I don't have the largest attention span lately), and of course the age of the strip, but the comic is also just a little bit inaccessible. I'd still thoroughly recommend checking it out, even if only to bear witness to how a single artist can drive an entire medium of expression forward. If you have an interest in comics, you owe it to yourself to check out a strip that began in 1913 yet is still being discussed and marveled at today. A notable annoyance: In this particular edition the strips are very small, to the point of making the hand written text a strain to read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Philip Girvan

    Absolute gold — a great masterpiece of 20th century art.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Peter D.j.

    For years and years, I dismissed "Krazy Kat" as just strange and limited. However, the more I heard the raves from others, the more curious I became. "What am I missing?" Being on a stretch of reading comics lately (and one often leads to another!) I grabbed this collection. I just finished it, and yep, I quite liked it! It's fun to watch the basic plotline repeated again and again in increasingly absurd and poetic ways. I even got used to those unusual backgrounds. The way Herriman played with For years and years, I dismissed "Krazy Kat" as just strange and limited. However, the more I heard the raves from others, the more curious I became. "What am I missing?" Being on a stretch of reading comics lately (and one often leads to another!) I grabbed this collection. I just finished it, and yep, I quite liked it! It's fun to watch the basic plotline repeated again and again in increasingly absurd and poetic ways. I even got used to those unusual backgrounds. The way Herriman played with the structure of his comics predates "Calvin and Hobbes" by more than half a century! I got a kick out of a lot of the vocabulary, too, and couldn't always discern what were common phrases of the times (20s and 30s, mostly) and what were simply inventions of Herriman himself. That's it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ben Carlsen

    I love George Herriman, and Krazy Kat especially. This book does a great job of chronicling Herriman's carreer, and is a great collection of Krazy Kat strips. There aren't a lot of Krazy Kat collections, which is sad. For those looking, this is a great place to start. I also enjoy that the part on Krazy Kat from "The Seven Lively Arts" is reprinted in full in this book. Anyone looking for a great example of what comic strips have done and can do, and for a profile of one of the greatest cartoonis I love George Herriman, and Krazy Kat especially. This book does a great job of chronicling Herriman's carreer, and is a great collection of Krazy Kat strips. There aren't a lot of Krazy Kat collections, which is sad. For those looking, this is a great place to start. I also enjoy that the part on Krazy Kat from "The Seven Lively Arts" is reprinted in full in this book. Anyone looking for a great example of what comic strips have done and can do, and for a profile of one of the greatest cartoonists ever to be in newspapers need look no farther.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zero Jones

    The story of a cats unrequited love for a mouse, but also so much more. It would have to be a work of genius to have remained popular for so long.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gideon Ansell

    For anyone who doesn't know about Krazy Kat, the most influential comic strip of all times, this is a good intro to the alternate reality created George Herriman and inhabited by a multitude of anthropomorphic characters for over 30 years. Poetic, funny, sad, breath-taking, and ultimately beautiful, Krazy Kat is less a "comic strip" and more a meditation on the rapture of existence. George Herriman takes a simple comic construct from the early years of "the funnies", cat chases mouse, turned it For anyone who doesn't know about Krazy Kat, the most influential comic strip of all times, this is a good intro to the alternate reality created George Herriman and inhabited by a multitude of anthropomorphic characters for over 30 years. Poetic, funny, sad, breath-taking, and ultimately beautiful, Krazy Kat is less a "comic strip" and more a meditation on the rapture of existence. George Herriman takes a simple comic construct from the early years of "the funnies", cat chases mouse, turned it on it's head, mouse clobbers cat with a brick. And in overturning that construct the entire world is now upside down. Don't come here for gags. It honestly isn't very funny and was never intended to be. Come here to uncover what goodness and innocence looks and sounds like in the face of banality, how love overcomes all obstacles, and how the things we call tangible are really illusions masking universal truths. Does that sound overblown? You won't think so after digging into the visual and verbal poetry of Krazy Kat. There are many different collections of Krazy Kat strips, some in print, some out. This one has a relatively good representation of color Sunday strips and black and white dailies. The intro and background section give a cursory overview of Herriman and the genesis of the strip. There's enough biographical info to hint at the formative background that was the wellspring of Herriman's genius. It doesn't mention however that he grew up "mulatto" in post civil-war New Orleans and hid his heritage all his life. But there are more definitive biographies available. Just open the book and discover why there would be no Calvin and Hobbes, no Pogo, no Maus without Krazy Kat.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Great to see some cartoon characters that I didn't know were from Herriman. He illustrated "archy and mehitabel", that's something I've seen. But there are other characters here that look familiar. Sweet and clever dialogue and situations, mouse vs cat with thrown bricks, and many other zany characters. I needed a magnifying sheet to read some of the many comics in this book. This is from the 1910's-1930's.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Berna Labourdette

    En principio, resulta insólito. Hasta idiota. Una tira cómica que extiende hasta el infinito el eterno triángulo: porque A ama a B, B ama a C y C detesta a A y odia (aparentemente) a B. Pero en el universo singular y particular del nortemericano George Herriman (1880- 1944), esta aparente comida de errores se transforma en una obra delirante, divertida y profundamente crítica. A es Pupp, un perro policía, un grave guardían de la ley y el orden, que está perdidamente enamorado de B, que es Kat, u En principio, resulta insólito. Hasta idiota. Una tira cómica que extiende hasta el infinito el eterno triángulo: porque A ama a B, B ama a C y C detesta a A y odia (aparentemente) a B. Pero en el universo singular y particular del nortemericano George Herriman (1880- 1944), esta aparente comida de errores se transforma en una obra delirante, divertida y profundamente crítica. A es Pupp, un perro policía, un grave guardían de la ley y el orden, que está perdidamente enamorado de B, que es Kat, un gato extraño (Herriman nunca clarificó de qué sexo era, lo que ha provocado cierta polémica, por el homosexualismo que implicaría, según algunos), soñador e ingenio, que ama intensamente a C, una rata perversa llamada Ignatz que no para de arrojarle ladrillos a la cabeza en cuanto se presenta la más mínima ocasión. Esto produce que el perro policía lo mande a prisión (si lo descubre). Sólo para escaparse de nuevo para... lanzarle ladrillos a Kat, para quien, esto es una profunda prueba de amor. Los tres personajes principales parecen disfrutar su continuo sadomasoquismo, invirtiendo Herriman la cotidiana situación de perro odia a gato, gato odia a ratón y el ratón como víctima siempre (una característica que será tomada luego en muchas caricaturas como Tom y Jerry, Ren y Stimpy e Itchy y Scratchy, por citar algunas). Herriman tenía una afición para realizar tiras cómicas excéntricas, generalmente con personajes que tenían una cierta fobia o manía y la llevaban hasta sus últimas consecuencias. Krazy Kat aparecía baja la tira cómica: La familia Dingbat, que estaba obsesionada con ruidos bajo su piso, que eran justamente provocados por Krazy e Ignatz, quienes debutarían en 1913 con una tira propia, la que se mantendría hasta la muerte de Herriman. Esto resultó en un universo realmente especial y único que no pudo ser continuado luego de la muerte de su creador como ha pasado con otras tiras cómicas como Peanuts o con los diseños de Disney. Herriman comenzó el camino de los universos realmente personales en el mundo del comic como Dave Dim con Cerebus o Bill Waterson con Calvin y Hobbes. Parece una broma cruel. El mejor representante en comic de una "shaggy-dog story" (una historia aburrida que no termina jamás, es la traducción más precisa). Pero de aburrida esta tira cómica no tiene nada. Al trío principal se agrega el extraño hábitat, el condado de Coconino, mezcla de desierto de Arizona, con huracanes ocasionales, donde podemos encontrar los tradicionales vendedores americanos de puerta en puerta a principios de los '30, santones hindúes, una cigüeña fanática (Joe Stork) con su paquete y su correspondiente bebé del cual todos huyen, una señora entrometida y chismosa (Sra. Cuacua), fabricante de ladrillos Kolin Kelly (que mantiene esta historia entregando un aprovisionamiento infinito de ladrillos a Ignatz) y varipintos personaes en la tradición de Herriman, como un osito ecuatorial (en uno de los episodios más divertidos). La influencia de Krazy Kat es vastísima: en autores como Walt Disney o Bill Waterson, entre otras características por el particular y riquísimo utilización del lenguaje cinético, el hecho que el segundo plano jamás es igual) y comprende la utilización de viñetas únicas. Herriman adquiere más confianza a lo largo de los años y comienza a hacer las cosas a su manera: rompe las convenciones como la utilización de de cuadros clásicos para rápidamente realizar una sola viñeta que ocupa toda la página. Otra cosa es la utilización remarcable del lenguaje para caracterizar a sus personajes, por ejemplo Krazy habla en un dialecto Brooklyn extrañísimo (era que no) y Pupp emplea un lenguaje rimbombante, como para indicar su posición de autoridad (aunque paradojalmente nadie lo respete). Krazy Kat fuera del mundo del comic ha producido también admiración, produciendo comentarios, estudios y ensayos de autores tan importantes como Calvino, Kerouac y ee. Cummings, entre otros. Si bien en español solamente se han publicado dos antologías de la numerosa producción de herriman (recordamos que son cerca de 30 años de producción de tiras cómicas dominicales) donde la dificultad al momento de la traducción ha jugado un factor importante. Nos acordamos de una serie que fue exhibida que no contaba con la aprobación de los herederos de Herriman porque Krazy aparece definitivamente como una gata: La Gata Loca). A mi parecer es una de las pocas tiras cómicas que merecen sin lugar a discusiones, el nombre de clásicos y se pueden leer como un simple divertimento, una trágica historia de amor, una crítica profunda a la sociedad y lo que es mejor, todo a la vez. À mon avis il est une le de peu de bandes comiques qui méritent sans lieu à discussion, le nom de de classiques et qui peuvent se lire comme un simple divertimento, une tragique histoire d'amour, une critique profonde à la société et ce qui est mieux, tout à la fois.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

    Here's a joke: a sadist, a masochist and a police officer are stuck in the middle of the desert. Ha ha ha ha!!! Peanuts is the same thing ("you're going to love this, it's about a depressed child who constantly fails at being better liked than his dog"), satire as a way of dealing with desires and emotions that might otherwise get overwhelming and cause real problems. I'll admit I'm one of these suckers who claims to be intellectual because I appreciate the deeper subtext of the comics I sit aro Here's a joke: a sadist, a masochist and a police officer are stuck in the middle of the desert. Ha ha ha ha!!! Peanuts is the same thing ("you're going to love this, it's about a depressed child who constantly fails at being better liked than his dog"), satire as a way of dealing with desires and emotions that might otherwise get overwhelming and cause real problems. I'll admit I'm one of these suckers who claims to be intellectual because I appreciate the deeper subtext of the comics I sit around reading. That said, 'Krazy Kat' will remain one of the great strips for years to come. Now, who wants to go out with me???!

  12. 4 out of 5

    meredith

    Occasionally I become optimistic, usually when drunk, and feel at peace, fully integrated with my time. Then I sober up, read this book (preferably accompanied by Fletcher Henderson, or equivalent) and resolve once again: olde IS better. A love sick cat pines after a sadistic mouse, whose repeated gifts of hurled bricks are interpreted as love notes. Charmingly drawn, literate, definitely NOT Cathy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    The problem with this book is the size of the reproductions-the comics are just too damn small and don't do justice to Herriman's work. The text is well written and thoughtful and tell his story wonderfully. I like the paper and the printing is nice, with the colors being vivid allowing for nice inspection of the strips. Too bad about the size, though.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frieda Vizel

    Picked this up because I read in Bill Watterson's essays that he was most inspired by Krazy Kat. The text was fascinating but the strips were too small to enjoy. It's hard to find a decent reproduction of the Krazy Kat strip.

  15. 5 out of 5

    stillme

    Another tangent to Ten-Cent Plague. I can see the influence on most of the current comics. Beyond the artistry, though, I found it annoying - Kat talks in dialect that almost takes translation to read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael P.

    It is difficult to say that this is a collection of Herriman's best strips, because so many others are as good. You can say that this collection is faultless and wonderful. This is an excellent introduction for those who do not get the Kat.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nicklas von

    Nice artwork, but the print is a wee bit small, or rather very small at times.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Lots of great info on Herriman, and includes a lot of color strips.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael P.

    Not just a reprint of selected KK strips, but with lots of commentary that puts Herriman's work into the context of his life. A bit dated now, this is still a marvelous book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Love the art and often the writing, though it can be hard to follow.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Justin Howe

    A classic.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I read this many, many years ago. It's an excellent introduction to his work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    Wonderful book about a great genius.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Oriana

    I hear this is a good intro to one of the people I'm most ashamed to know nothing about.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hans Ostrom

    A true classic. Intelligent, clever, funny, inspired.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    Public library copy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    George Herriman's comic strip is the work of art that has stayed closest to my heart for the longest period of time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    I know it was a hugely influential comic, but it's just not very funny.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Sullivan

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