George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat”. The Complete Color Sundays 1935–1944
The premise is simple: a black cat loves scheming a white mouse who incessantly throws bricks at the cat’s head, which police dog Officer Pupp, secretly harboring a passionate love for the cat, tries to prevent. George Herriman endlessly plays with the above formula in his legendary newspaper strip Krazy Kat, published from 1913 until his death in 1944. Through his wit, detailed characterization, and visual-verbal creativity, Herriman introduced even the least comically-inclined to the young medium; Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, US President Woodrow Wilson, Jackson Pollock, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Capra, P.G. Wodehouse, Willem de Kooning—all KK fans among many others. It was thanks to media tycoon William Randolph Hearst, a confirmed fan who gave Herriman carte blanche in his newspapers, that the artist was allowed to freely explore countless absurd and melancholy variations on the theme of unrequited love for years on end. Herriman unabashedly took advantage of this, radically exploring the medium’s potential and pushing all of its formal boundaries; readers had to put up with surreal, Dadaist sceneries, a language that whirled slang, neologisms, phonetic spelling, and scholarly references, and diffuse gender roles—making Krazy Kat probably the first gender-fluid star in comic history. This volume presents all Krazy Kat color stories from 1935–1944 and a detailed introduction by comic expert Alexander Braun, who illuminates Herriman’s multi-ethnic background and reveals what makes this timeless work of art about a queer cat so extraordinary.
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