George Joseph Herriman (August 22, 1880 – April 25,
1944) was an American cartoonist best known for the comic strip Krazy
Kat (1913–1944). More influential than popular,
Krazy Kat had an
appreciative audience among those in the arts. Gilbert Seldes' article
Krazy Kat Who Walks by Himself" was the earliest example of a
critic from the high arts giving serious attention to a comic strip.
The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal placed the strip first on its list of the greatest
comics of the 20th century. Herriman's work has been a primary
influence on cartoonists such as Will Eisner, Charles M. Schulz,
Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Bill Watterson, and Chris Ware.
Herriman was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to mulatto Creole
parents, and grew up in Los Angeles. After he graduated from high
school in 1897, he worked in the newspaper industry as an illustrator
and engraver. He moved on to cartooning and comic strips—a medium
then in its infancy—and drew a variety of strips until he introduced
his most famous character, Krazy Kat, in his strip The Dingbat
Family (fr) in 1910. A
Krazy Kat daily strip began in 1913, and
from 1916 the strip also appeared on Sundays. It was noted for its
poetic, dialect-heavy dialogue; its fantastic, shifting backgrounds;
and its bold, experimental page layouts. In the strip's main motif,
Ignatz Mouse pelted Krazy with bricks, which the naïve, androgynous
Kat interpreted as symbols of love. As the strip progressed, a love
triangle developed between Krazy, Ignatz, and Offisa Pupp.
Herriman lived most of his life in Los Angeles, but made frequent
trips to the Navajo deserts in the southwestern U.S. He was drawn to
the landscapes of
Monument Valley and the Enchanted Mesa, and made
Coconino County the location of his
Krazy Kat strips. His artwork made
much use of Navajo and Mexican themes and motifs against shifting
desert backgrounds. He was a prolific cartoonist who produced a large
number of strips and illustrated Don Marquis's books of poetry about
Archy and Mehitabel, an alley cat and a cockroach. Newspaper magnate
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was a proponent of Herriman and gave him a
lifetime contract with King Features Syndicate, which guaranteed
Herriman a comfortable living and an outlet for his work despite its
lack of popularity.
1 Personal history
1.1 1880–1900: Early life
1.2 1900–1905: Early career in New York
1.3 1905–1910: Return to California
1.4 1910–1922: New York again, and Krazy Kat
1.5 1922–1944: California again, later career and death
2 Personal life
3 Race and identity
4 Reception and legacy
5.3 List of comic strips
7.1 Works cited
7.1.2 Journals and magazines
8 Further reading
9 External links
1880–1900: Early life
The Herrimans attended St. Augustine Catholic Church in
Tremé in New
George Joseph Herriman was born at 348 Villere Street[a] in New
Orleans on August 22, 1880. He came from a line of French-speaking
Louisiana Creole mulattoes who were considered free people of
color, and were reportedly active in the early abolitionist
movement. His paternal grandfather,
George Herriman Sr., owned a
tailor shop on Royal Street in New Orleans.[b] His maternal
grandmother was born in Havana, Cuba. His parents were George
Herriman, Jr. (1850–1923), born in New Orleans, and Clara
Morel Herriman (1857–1911), born in Iberville. The family
attended the St. Augustine Catholic Church in New Orleans' Tremé
When he was ten, Herriman and his family moved to Los Angeles,
where he grew up south of downtown near Main Street and Washington
Boulevard. His father worked there as a tailor. Herriman attended the
Catholic boys' school St. Vincent's College (now Loyola High
School). Soon after graduating in 1897, he sold a sketch of the
Hotel Petrolia in Santa Paula to the
Los Angeles Herald. This landed
him a $2-per-week job there as an assistant in the engraving
department, where he occasionally did drawings for advertisements and
1900–1905: Early career in New York
Herriman's earliest published work was humor and editorial cartoons.
(September 7, 1906)
When he was 20, Herriman sneaked aboard a freight train bound for New
York City, hoping his chances as an artist would be better there. He
was unsuccessful at first, and survived by working as a barker and
billboard painter at Coney Island, until one of the leading humor
magazines of the day, Judge, accepted some of his cartoons. Between
June 15 and October 26, 1901, eleven of his cartoons appeared in that
magazine's pages, in the heavily crosshatched style of the day. He
often used sequential images in his cartoons, as in the emerging comic
strip medium. On September 29 that year, his first real comic strips
were published, one in the Pulitzer chain of newspapers on a
non-contractual, one-shot basis and another on a continuing basis in
the Philadelphia North American Syndicate's first comic strip
supplement. His first color comic strips appeared in the T. C. McClure
Syndicate beginning October 20.
His success with these syndicated strips convinced Herriman to give up
on magazine submissions. For the Pulitzer papers on February 16,
1902, he began his first strip that had a continuing character,
Musical Mose. The strip featured an African-American musician who
impersonated other ethnicities, only to suffer the consequences when
discovered by his audience. Professor Otto and his Auto, about a
terrifyingly dangerous driver, followed in March, and Acrobatic
Archie, a "kid strip" with a child protagonist, first appeared in
April. With his future as a cartoonist seemingly assured, Herriman
traveled back to
Los Angeles to marry his childhood sweetheart and
returned with her to New York.
In the November 1902 issue of the literary magazine The Bookman
Herriman wrote of his profession self-deprecatingly, while poet La
Touche Hancock, in an article in that issue titled "The American Comic
and Caricature Art", wrote, "Art and poetry is the characteristic
of George Herriman. Were his drawings not so well known one would
think he had mistaken his vocation." Herriman's work was
increasing in popularity, and he occasionally had front-page,
full-color strips for the Pulitzer supplements, such as Two Jolly
Jackies about two unemployed sailors, which began in January 1903.
He began drawing the cowboy strip Lariat Pete in September for the
McClure syndicate after Two Jolly Jackies was ended.
The comic strip Major Ozone's Fresh Air Crusade (1904–1906) was an
early success for Herriman. (April 21, 1906)
In June, Herriman was employed by the New York World. There, he
illustrated Roy McCardell's commentaries on local events, beginning
June 28 and running to the year's end. Herriman still produced
syndicate work, such as Major Ozone's Fresh Air Crusade for the World
Color Printing Company beginning January 2, 1904. Another of
Herriman's obsessive characters, the Major traveled the world in an
unsuccessful search for the purest air and spouted poetic
dialogue. Major Ozone was so popular that it soon was given the
supplement's front page. The same month, Herriman moved from the
World to the New York Daily News, where he was given a larger quantity
and variety of work, including cartoon reporting on sports and
politics. In February and March, he had a short-lived continuing
character comic strip about domestic life called Home Sweet Home. That
spring, he began illustrating a series of articles written by Walter
Murphy called Bubblespikers.
Rudolph Block hired Herriman for the Hearst papers with "a salary
commensurate with his talents", starting April 22 at the New York
American, which ran no daily comic strips at the time.
Herriman drew sports cartoons in an office alongside Frederick Burr
Opper, James Swinnerton, and Tad Dorgan, who was popularly known
as "Tad" and was considered a star at another Hearst paper, the New
York Evening Journal. Tad and Herriman were often assigned to cover
the same sporting events and became close friends. In 1924, Tad called
Herriman "one of the best sporting artists in the world" and regretted
that Herriman no longer did that kind of work. Herriman continued
with Hearst until June 1905, when he left the paper, possibly
because of the new sports editor's unsympathetic attitude to
cartoonists. He returned to Los Angeles in the latter half of
1905–1910: Return to California
Daniel and Pansy, Herriman's first all-animal strip (December 4, 1909)
In California, Herriman continued to mail in work to the World Color
Printing Company. He revived Major Ozone and produced Grandma's
Girl—Likewise Bud Smith, which he combined from two earlier strips,
and a two-tiered children's strip, Rosy Posy—Mama's Girl. He began
to work with the
Los Angeles Times on January 8, 1906, before
returning to Hearst that summer. Accompanying a front-page
illustration in Hearst's
Los Angeles Examiner, Herriman was announced
as "the Examiner's cartoonist" on August 21. His artwork began to
appear on nearly every page, resulting in greatly increased sales for
the newspaper. In October, he stopped working for World Color.
Following the success of Bud Fisher's daily strip A. Mutt,[c]
which debuted in late 1907, Herriman began a similarly sports-themed
daily strip that December called Mr. Proones the Plumber. The strip
was not as successful as Fisher's, and it ceased to appear after
December 26. His next comic strip, Baron Mooch, starring the
titular freeloader, debuted in the Examiner on October 12,
1909. Herriman began two more strips in November 1909 with the
World Color Printing Company—Alexander the Cat and Daniel and Pansy,
which both appeared in color. Daniel and Pansy was Herriman's first
strip to feature an all-animal cast. This was followed in the
Examiner on December 20 by the short-lived Mary's Home from College, a
precursor to the "girl strips" such as Cliff Sterrett's Polly and Her
Pals and John Held Jr.'s Merely Margie, and on December 23 by
Gooseberry Sprig, about an aristocratic, cigar-smoking duck who had
previously and popularly appeared in Herriman's sports cartoons.
The bird-populated fantasy was a precursor to Krazy Kat, and many of
its characters reappeared in the later strip.
1910–1922: New York again, and Krazy Kat
Krazy Kat daily strip — Krazy Kat kisses a sleeping
Ignatz Mouse, who then dreams of angels.
(December 24, 1917)
In 1910, the sports editor of the
New York Evening Journal
New York Evening Journal called
Herriman back to New York to cover for
Tad Dorgan who was in San
Francisco covering the "Fight of the Century" between Jack Johnson and
Jim Jeffries. Six days after arriving in New York, Herriman began
The Dingbat Family (fr), starring E. Pluribus Dingbat and his
family. Herriman used typed lettering on the strip on July 26,
1910, but quickly went back to hand-lettering. On August 10, 1910,
Herriman retitled the strip The Family Upstairs, "making it perhaps
the first comic strip in which the title characters never
appeared." The original title return after the strip of November
15, 1911, when the Dingbats' building was demolished to make room for
a department store and they and their upstairs nemeses parted
Critics do not regard the strip highly, but it provided the vehicle
for a fruitful situation: in the July 26 episode, a mouse threw a
brick at the family cat—called "Kat"—which hit the cat on the
head. The antics of this mouse and "Kat" continued to appear in
the bottom portion of The Dingbat Family (fr). Herriman said he
did this "to fill up the waste space". About a month after its
first appearance, the "Kat" crept up on the sleeping mouse and kissed
it loudly. The mouse awoke saying, "I dreamed an angel kissed me",
while the "Kat" crept away and said, "Sweet thing".
The cartoon staff at the New York Evening Journal
(January 3, 1911)
Top, from left: Gus Mager, Charles Wellington, Herriman
Bottom, from left: Harry Hershfield, Ike Anderson, Tad Dorgan
The gender of "Kat" was unclear from the start. Herriman experimented
with a decision about the character's gender, but it remained
ambiguous and he would refer to "Kat" as "he" or "she" as he saw fit.
Herriman incorporated unusual details into the mini-strip's
backgrounds—cacti, pagodas, fanciful vegetation, or anything else
that struck his fancy; this became a signature of the later Krazy Kat
strip. The cast grew and soon included the mainstay character Bull
Pupp and characters from the Gooseberry Sprigg strip. The strip's
characters, relations and situations grew organically during its
lifetime, encouraged by Herriman's colleagues.
The cat-and-mouse substrip was gaining in popularity; instead of
filling up space in the bottom of The Dingbat Family (fr)'s
panels, it began to occupy a tier of panels of its own. In July
1912, while Herriman had the Dingbats on vacation,
Krazy Kat and
Ignatz Mouse took over the strip, which was retitled
Krazy Kat and I.
Mouse for the duration. On October 28, 1913,
Krazy Kat debuted as
an independent strip on the daily comics page.
During the first few years of publication, Krazy Kat's humor changed
from slapstick to a more vaudevillian kind. The shifting backgrounds
became increasingly bizarre, presaging things to come. The strip
expanded to a full-page black-and-white
Sunday strip on April 23,
1916.[d] Herriman made full use of his imagination and used the whole
page in the strip's layout. The strips were unlike anything else
on the comics page; spontaneous, formally daring, yet impeccably
Monument Valley in
Arizona and similar places in New
Mexico and southern Utah, and incorporated the distinct forms of the
desert landscape into his strips. The
Enchanted Mesa of New Mexico
first appeared in
Krazy Kat in the summer of 1916. Herriman may have
visited after reading an article by
Theodore Roosevelt in 1913, but he
may have gone earlier—the desert Coconino County, Arizona, that
became the backdrop to
Krazy Kat was first mentioned in a 1911 The
Dingbat Family (fr) strip, though the real Coconino County
was located further southwest than Herriman's fanciful version.
Herriman was enamored with the impressive rock formations at Monument
Valley in Arizona.
The Dingbat Family finished in 1916 and was replaced by Baron Bean's
debut the next day. The strip's title character, The Baron, was an
impoverished English nobleman, a tramp inspired by
Charles Dickens and
Charlie Chaplin. He and his valet Grimes would plot ways to get by.
Herriman later introduced the main characters' wives, and after a run
as a domestic strip, with occasional appearances of characters from
Krazy Kat's world, it ended in January 1919. It was replaced the next
day by Now Listen Mabel, which was about a young man courting a young
woman; he would be caught in a compromising situation, which he would
try to explain away with "Now listen Mabel..." The strip lasted until
"It happens that in America irony and fantasy are practised in the
major arts by only one or two men, producing high-class trash; and Mr
Herriman, working in a despised medium, without an atom of
pretentiousness, is day after day producing something essentially
fine. It is the result of a naive sensibility rather like that of the
douanier Rousseau [Henri Rousseau]; it does not lack intelligence,
because it is a thought-out, a constructed piece of work."
Gilbert Seldes in The Seven Lively Arts (1924)
Krazy Kat gained an appreciative audience in the world of the arts.
The character debuted in film in 1916. The first animated films
starring a cat were produced by Hearst's International Film Service,
though without Herriman's direct involvement. In 1922, Adolph Bolm
choreographed a jazz-pantomime
Krazy Kat ballet written by John Alden
Carpenter. It was first performed in New York in 1922 by Ballet
Intime, and Herriman illustrated the libretto and designed the
costumes and scenario. While it was not a great success, the critics
Deems Taylor, Stark Young and Henrietta Straus wrote favorably
about it. The strip itself was the subject of an article by
Gilbert Seldes called "Golla, Golla the Comic Strip's
Art", which appeared in the May 1922 issue of Vanity Fair. Seldes
expanded this article as part of his book on the popular arts, The
Seven Lively Arts (1924), in which Seldes argued against conservative
tendencies that excluded artists in the popular arts, such as Herriman
and Chaplin, from being considered alongside traditional artists.
Krazy Kat was the subject of a chapter entitled "The
Krazy Kat That
Walks by Himself", which is the most famous piece of writing about the
strip and the earliest example of a critic from the world of high
art giving legitimacy to the comic strip medium. Vanity Fair
inducted Herriman into its Hall of Fame in the April 1923 issue.
1922–1944: California again, later career and death
Hearst, an admirer of Krazy Kat, had given Herriman a lifetime
contract with his company King Features Syndicate, which gave
Herriman the security to live anywhere he wanted. In 1922, he moved
back to Hollywood, into a two-story Spanish-style home at 1617
North Sierra Bonita, from where he made frequent visits to the
Arizona desert. Herriman developed ties with members of the film
industry; he knew
Hal Roach Studio members Tom McNamara and "Beanie"
Walker from their newspaper days. Walker, Herriman's best friend, was
the head writer on the
Our Gang shorts. In the early 1920s, Herriman
occasionally drew his strips at the Roach Studio. He met celebrities,
Will Rogers and Frank Capra, and presented them with
hand-colored drawings. He loved Charlie Chaplin's films, and
The Gold Rush
The Gold Rush in the magazine Motion Picture Classics in
Stumble Inn ran from 1922 until 1925 (December 23, 1922).
Autumn 1922 saw the first daily installment of Stumble Inn, the first
Krazy Kat strip Herriman had drawn since 1919. A verbose strip
whose Sundays were often overrun with prose, its lead characters were
Uriah and Ida Stumble, who rented rooms to an assortment of strange
characters. The daily strip was short-lived, but the Sundays edition
lasted three years.
From August 1925 until September 1929, King Features required that
Herriman design the
Krazy Kat Sundays so that they could be run either
as a full Sunday page or as two four-panel dailies. Herriman lamented
intrusion on his page designs, and the artwork of the period took on a
rushed look. He was made to focus on the strip's characterization, and
during this period, the Krazy—Ignatz—Offisa Pupp love triangle for
which the strip is remembered became fully developed. Pupp pined for
Krazy, Krazy loved Ignatz, and Ignatz hated Krazy and pelted the
annoying "Kat" with a brick, and Pupp imprisoned Ignatz.
Throughout the late 1920s, Herriman made frequent trips to Kayenta,
Arizona, in Navajo country about 25 miles (40 km) from Monument
Valley. He also made winter trips to Mexico. The desert, Navajo
artwork, and Mexican pottery and architecture became more prominent in
Herriman's strips, and he sometimes used Spanish vocabulary in the
dialogue. Herriman did little work on these excursions, and it is
likely that he drew his strips in hurried bursts when in
Stumble Inn finished in late 1925, and it was replaced with the
domestic strip Us Husbands (with Mistakes Will Happen as a "topper"
strip), which ran until the end of that year. In 1928, Herriman
took over the strip Embarrassing Moments, which had begun in 1922 and
had been drawn by several cartoonists. The strip eventually became
Bernie Burns, in which embarrassing moments would happen to the title
character. The strip appeared in few papers, and after it ended in
1932, Herriman worked only on Krazy Kat, although he provided
illustrations for Don Marquis' popular Archy and Mehitabel, a series
of books of poetry about a cat and a cockroach.
In 1930, Herriman sold his first Hollywood home to a friend and moved
his family to 2217 Maravilla Drive, a Spanish-style mansion atop a
hill. It was adorned with paintings of Southwest and Native themes,
and had a Mexican-style garden paved with flagstones and decorated
with painted pots and tropical plants. Herriman later bought the lot
across the street and turned it into a public park.
The 1930s were a period of tragedy for Herriman. On September 29,
1931, his wife Mabel died after an automobile accident, and in
1939, his youngest daughter Bobbie died unexpectedly at 30. After his
wife's death, Herriman never remarried and lived in
Los Angeles with
his cats and dogs. He developed a close relationship with
cartoonist James Swinnerton's first wife Louise, with whom he
frequently exchanged letters. Herriman underwent a kidney operation in
spring 1938, and during his ten-week convalescence King Features reran
Krazy Kat strips.
Starting in 1935,
Krazy Kat ran in color. (November 7, 1937)
Krazy Kat's popularity fell considerably over the years, and by the
1930s it was running in only thirty-five newspapers, while its
contemporaries such as
Bringing Up Father
Bringing Up Father were reportedly running in
up to a thousand. Herriman realized his $750-per-week salary from
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate was far more than the revenue the
strip could be generating, but Hearst refused Herriman's offer to take
a pay cut. Hearst let it be known that Herriman was to continue the
strip as long as he liked. From 1935,
Krazy Kat appeared in color,
of which Herriman made bold use. He reduced the amount of hatchwork
and used larger, more open panels.
Herriman died in his sleep in his home near Hollywood on April 25,
1944, after a long illness. An incompletely inked penciling of a
week's worth of daily strips was found on his drawing board. On his
death certificate, the cause of death was listed as "non-alcoholic
cirrhosis of the liver", and despite his mixed-race heritage, he
was listed as "caucasian". The
New York Journal-American
New York Journal-American ran a
front-page obituary. His funeral at Little Church of Flowers at
Forest Lawn Memorial Park was attended by few.
Hershfield spoke at the funeral, saying, "If ever there was a saint on
earth, it was George Herriman". According to his request, his body
was cremated and his remains were scattered over Monument Valley.
On June 25, 1944, two months after Herriman's death, the last of his
Krazy Kat strips, a full-page Sunday, was printed. At
the time, Hearst usually engaged new cartoonists when the artists of
popular strips quit or died, but he made an exception for Herriman, as
he felt that no one could take his place.
Herriman was described as self-deprecatingly modest, and he disliked
being photographed. The New York Journal-American's obituary
described him as a devoted husband and father, of slight build,
mild-mannered and an anonymous contributor to charities. He was
generous to his friends, and sold his first Hollywood house, which he
had bought for $50,000, to a friend for $40,000. Though a private
person, he was said to be an entertaining host to his friends. He
would sometimes stay silent during social occasions and would often
leave the room to wash dishes, which he said he enjoyed as it gave him
the opportunity to think. His favorite game was poker, which he
particularly enjoyed playing with his fellow cartoonists.
Herriman had a great love of animals, and had a large number of dogs
and cats; he had five dogs and thirteen cats in 1934. He
usually kept to a vegetarian diet, except when it made him feel too
weak, and he refused to ride horses. He so admired Henry Ford's
pacifist stance that he would only buy Ford automobiles. He purchased
a new model annually.
Herriman married his childhood sweetheart Mabel Lillian Bridge in Los
Angeles on July 7, 1902. They had two daughters: Mabel, nicknamed
"Toodles", later "Toots") and Barbara, nicknamed "Bobbie", who had
Race and identity
Though Herriman had mixed ethnicity, he partook in the ethnic humor
that was typical at the time. (Musical Mose, February 16, 1902)
Herriman, who had mulatto heritage, kept his "kinky hair" under a hat
Herriman was born to mixed-race parents, and his birth certificate
lists Herriman as "colored". In the post-
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson U.S.,
in which "separate but equal" racial segregation was enshrined, people
of mixed race had to choose to identify themselves as either black or
white. Herriman seems to have identified himself as white. According
to comics academic Jeet Heer, his early work is "replete with black
caricatures", such as Musical Mose, in which the lead character, an
African-American musician, wishes his "color would fade". Racial
ambivalence crept into Krazy Kat, such as on two occasions where
Krazy's black fur was dyed white. Ignatz falls in love with the
whitened Krazy, only to return to hatred and brick-throwing when the
truth is revealed. Similarly, in an oft-repeated joke, Ignatz would
accidentally become covered with coal dust and would be spurned by the
normally love-struck Krazy. In one such episode, a brick thrown by the
blackened Ignatz hits Krazy, who declares, "A lil Eetiopium Mice,
black like a month from midnights. Fuwi!"[e] Once Ignatz reverts to
his white self, Krazy loves him again.
Herriman's ethnic heritage was unknown to his colleagues. Fellow
Tad Dorgan nicknamed him "the Greek", a label which stuck
and was taken up by his biographers and the press, who called him the
son of a Greek baker. At other times, he was identified as French,
Irish, and Turkish. He told a friend that he was Creole, and
speculated that he may have "Negro blood" in him, as he had "kinky
hair". The friend said that Herriman wore a hat to hide his
hair, which may have been an attempt to pass as white.
Herriman said that he dreamed of being reborn a Navajo. On his
death certificate, he was listed as "Caucasian", and his daughter
Mabel had his father's birthplace listed as
Paris and his mother's as
Arthur Asa Berger
Arthur Asa Berger made Herriman's mixed-race heritage
known in 1971. While researching for Herriman's entry for the
Dictionary of American Biography, Berger discovered the cartoonist's
race was listed as "colored" on his birth certificate obtained from
New Orleans Board of Health. The 1880 census for New Orleans
listed his parents as "mulatto". On reading this, African-American
Ishmael Reed dedicated his 1972 novel Mumbo Jumbo to "George
Herriman, Afro-American, who created Krazy Kat". Herriman came to be
identified as Black or Creole in comics literature, including his
first book-length biography, Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George
Herriman (1986), while the "Greek" label stuck with some
biographers, and was used by
Bill Blackbeard in his introductions to
the Krazy and Ignatz volumes in the early 2000s. Later research at
New Orleans Public Library by cartoonist Brian Nelson showed that
Herriman's maternal grandmother was born in Havana, Cuba, that all his
relatives were listed as "mulatto" on the 1890 census, and that
Herriman may also have had Spanish or Native American ancestry.
Reception and legacy
E. E. Cummings wrote the introduction to the first Krazy Kat
book in 1946.
Krazy Kat was popular with intellectuals, artists and critics,[f]
and in the 1920s Herriman's modernist touches received praise. In
1921, composer John Alden Carpenter, who had long been an admirer of
Herriman's work, approached him to collaborate on a Krazy Kat
Woodrow Wilson refused to miss any installment
of Krazy Kat, and would take it into cabinet meetings.
Writer E. B. White praised Herriman's illustrations for Archy and
Edward Sorel wrote that Krazy Kat's lack of
popularity later in its run was largely due to Hearst's editorial
policies, in that the "lowbrow" readership at whom he aimed his papers
was unlikely to appreciate Herriman's style of work, though Hearst
personally championed the strip. Following Herriman's death, the
strip was discontinued, unlike most popular strips which were
continued by other cartoonists after their creators' deaths. His
stature was such that decades after his death, his work was displayed
in art galleries.
Critics found Herriman's work difficult to classify and contextualize;
Seldes, E. E. Cummings, and writers
Adam Gopnik and Robert
Warshow were among critics who tempered their enthusiasm for the strip
with qualifications about its perceived naïveté and its "lowbrow"
origins on the comic strip page.
The strip has had a lasting influence on a large number of
Patrick McDonnell calls
Krazy Kat one of
his foremost influences, and is co-author of Krazy Kat: The Comic
George Herriman (1986). Will Eisner discovered
Herriman's comics when he was selling newspapers in the 1930s and
Krazy Kat "the big strong influence" on his own work. Art
Spiegelman called Herriman one of his "conscious influences".
Herriman's widespread influence on American underground comix,
particularly his shape-shifting, psychedelic backgrounds, lack of
respect for convention and his irreverence, is evident in the work of
Robert Crumb, Denis Kitchen, and Bobby London. Journalist Paul
Krassner called Crumb "the illegitimate offspring of Krazy Kat".
Chris Ware was so taken with Herriman's work he made a
Monument Valley to see the desert landscapes that
inspired much of Herriman's art.
"I always thought if I could do something as good as Krazy Kat, I
would be happy.
Krazy Kat was always my goal."
Charles M. Schulz
Charles M. Schulz in 1967
Krazy Kat was a primary influence on other cartoonists such as Charles
M. Schulz of Peanuts,
Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes,
and the Italian Massimo Mattioli.
Walt Kelly paid homage to
Herriman in some of his Pogo strips.
Dr. Seuss expressed fondness
for Krazy Kat, and children's literature scholar
Philip Nel has
detected Herriman's influence in Seuss's works, especially in his
zig-zagging, Coconino County-like backgrounds. Multimedia artist
Öyvind Fahlström appropriated
Krazy Kat in a series of works from
1963 to 1965.
Jay Cantor published a postmodern novel in 1987
called Krazy Kat: A Novel in Five Panels, in which the retired Krazy
and Ignatz contemplate a comeback in a post-atomic world.
Since 1997, the
Small Press Expo has held the annual Ignatz Awards in
honor of Herriman's mouse from Krazy Kat. It recognizes talent in
independent comics publishing.
Krazy Kat was ranked first on The
Comics Journal's list of the greatest comics of the twentieth
Society of Illustrators
Society of Illustrators inducted Herriman into its
Hall of Fame in 2013.
Within the seeming strictures of the strip—the recurring characters,
the Krazy–Ignatz–Offisa Pupp love triangle—Herriman improvised
freely with the story, the shifting backgrounds, and the sex of the
Krazy Kat's title character. Among the multicultural influences
Herriman mixed in his work were those of the Navajo and
Mexican. He made creative use of language with a poetical
sense, employing multilingual puns in a fanciful mix of
dialects from different ethnic backgrounds. Herriman used
metafictional techniques associated with postmodernism; his
characters were self-aware, he frequently drew attention to
himself and his drawings as drawings in his strips, and he emphasized
the subjectivity of language and experience.
Herriman played with page structures, as with this circular panel,
surrounded by borderless panels. He drew with a loose, spontaneous
line, and had his characters speak in dialect-heavy, poetic dialogue.
Herriman drew with what cartoonist
Edward Sorel called a "liberated,
spontaneous-looking style ... a cartoon counterpart of
expressionism". It was organic, and his pen strokes had a dynamic,
thick-and-thin range which Sorel describes as instantly recognizable
and difficult to imitate. The
Krazy Kat Sunday pages showed Herriman
experimenting most freely—each had a unique panel layout and
logo, and the jumbled panels could be circles, irregular shapes,
or borderless. In his last few years, Herriman's arthritis led to
an ever-scratchier style of art; he used a knife to scratch out whites
from inked surfaces, giving the artwork the look of a woodcut.
Chris Ware designed the complete
Krazy Kat Sundays series Krazy and
Krazy Kat has been collected in a variety of formats over the years,
though Herriman's other strips have been less frequently reprinted.
Krazy Kat (1946) was the first Krazy Kat
collection; it featured an introduction by poet E. E.
Cummings.[g] Comics historian
Bill Blackbeard began compiling a
complete collection of
Krazy Kat Sundays beginning in 1988, but the
Eclipse Comics went bankrupt in 1992, before the series was
complete. Blackbeard's thirteen-volume Krazy and Ignatz
series was published by
Fantagraphics Books beginning in 2002, and was
designed by Chris Ware. In 2010, Sunday Press Books released
Krazy Kat: A Celebration of Sundays, which reprinted a selection of
Krazy Kat Sundays and some of Herriman's pre-
Krazy Kat work in a
14-by-17-inch (36 cm × 43 cm) format, which
approximated the original printed size of the strips. In 2012,
IDW began issuing a three-volume
Baron Bean reprinting, and
Fantagraphics will release George Herriman's Stumble Inn.
Fantagraphics has also announced plans to collect the complete Krazy
Kat dailies at an unspecified time.
List of comic strips
Herriman had many long– and short-lived comic strips. (Baron Bean
daily, c. 1916–1917)
Comic strips by George Herriman
000000001902-02-16-0000February 16, 1902
000000001902-03-09-0000March 9, 1902
Professor Otto and his Auto
000000001902-03-30-0000March 30, 1902
000000001902-12-28-0000December 28, 1902
000000001902-04-13-0000April 13, 1902
000000001903-01-25-0000January 25, 1903
Two Jollie Jackies
000000001903-01-11-0000January 11, 1903
000000001903-11-15-0000November 15, 1903
000000001903-09-06-0000September 6, 1903
000000001903-11-15-0000November 15, 1903
Major Ozone's Fresh Air Crusade
000000001904-01-02-0000January 2, 1904
000000001906-10-20-0000October 20, 1906
Home Sweet Home
000000001904-02-22-0000February 22, 1904
000000001904-03-04-0000March 4, 1904
000000001905-10-29-0000October 29, 1905
000000001906-10-20-0000October 20, 1906
Mr. Proones the Plunger
000000001906-12-07-0000December 7, 1906
000000001906-12-26-0000December 26, 1906
Rosy Posy, Mama's Girl
000000001906-05-19-0000May 19, 1906
000000001906-09-15-0000September 15, 1906
000000001905-11-26-0000November 26, 1905
000000001906-05-19-0000May 19, 1906
000000001909-10-12-0000October 12, 1909
000000001909-12-19-0000December 19, 1909
Mary's Home from College
000000001909-12-20-0000December 20, 1909
000000001909-12-20-0000December 20, 1909
000000001909-12-23-0000December 23, 1909
000000001910-01-24-0000January 24, 1910
Alexander the Cat
000000001909-11-07-0000November 7, 1909
000000001910-01-09-0000January 9, 1910
Daniel and Pansy
000000001909-11-21-0000November 21, 1909
000000001909-12-04-0000December 4, 1909
The Dingbat Family (fr)/The Family Upstairs
000000001910-06-20-0000June 20, 1910
000000001916-01-04-0000January 4, 1916
000000001913-10-28-0000October 28, 1913
000000001944-06-25-0000June 25, 1944
000000001916-01-05-0000January 5, 1916
000000001919-01-22-0000January 22, 1919
Now Listen Mabel
000000001919-01-23-0000January 23, 1919
000000001919-12-18-0000December 18, 1919
000000001922-10-30-0000October 30, 1922
000000001925-10-30-0000October 30, 1925
000000001926-01-09-0000January 9, 1926
000000001926-12-18-0000December 18, 1926
Mistakes Will Happen[ii]
000000001926-01-09-0000January 9, 1926
000000001926-12-18-0000December 18, 1926
Embarrassing Moments/Bernie Burns[iii]
000000001928-04-28-0000April 28, 1928
000000001932-12-03-0000December 3, 1932
^ Taken over by Herriman
^ Ran as a "topper" to Us Husbands
^ Begun in 1922, taken over by Herriman in 1928
McDonogh 35 High School
McDonogh 35 High School later occupied the site.
^ The shop was occupied by Bryant Galleries as of 2010.
^ Herriman may also have been inspired by the earlier daily strip A.
Piker Clerk (1903–04) by Clare Briggs, which also had a sports
theme, and which Herriman had likely seen.
^ April 23, 1916, was actually a Saturday.
^ "A little Ethiopian Mouse, black like a month of midnights. Phooey!"
^ Writers and artists such as T. S. Eliot, Pablo Picasso,
Gertrude Stein Joan Miró, Jack Kerouac, E. E. Cummings,
Fritz Lang and Umberto Eco expressed their love of Krazy Kat.
^ Cummings had attended
Harvard University with Gilbert Seldes.
^ a b c d e McCash 2010.
^ a b c d McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 30.
^ McCash 2010; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 30.
^ a b Boxer 2007.
^ a b c Stern 2008.
^ Tisserand, Michael (2016). Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black
and White. p. 323. Harper. ISBN 978-0061732997.
^ Tisserand, Michael (2016). Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black
and White. p. 233. Harper. ISBN 978-0061732997.
^ Inge 1996, p. 3.
^ a b c Mostrom 2010.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 31.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 33.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 33–34.
^ a b c d e f g McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 34.
^ a b c McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 36.
^ Hancock 1902, p. 263; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986,
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 36–37.
^ a b c Blackbeard 1983, p. 51.
^ a b c d e f g McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 37.
^ a b c d e McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 41.
^ Blackbeard 1983, p. 51; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon
1986, p. 41.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 41, 44–45.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 44–45;
Blackbeard 1983, p. 52.
^ Blackbeard 1983, p. 52.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 44–45; Mostrom
2010; Blackbeard 1983, p. 53.
^ Blackbeard 1983, p. 53.
^ a b c d e f g McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 45.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 45; Blackbeard
1983, p. 54.
^ Harvey 1994, p. 242.
^ Blackbeard 1983, pp. 52, 54; Harvey 1994, p. 242.
^ a b c d e f g h i j McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986,
^ Note: Historian
Don Markstein gives November 1, 1909, at the entry
Baron Mooch at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original
on August 27, 2015.
^ a b c d e f g McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 50.
^ Gooseberry Sprigg at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the
original on February 6, 2015.
^ a b c d e f McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 51.
^ Nel 2012, p. 284; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986,
^ a b The Dingbat Family a.k.a. The Family Upstairs at Don Markstein's
Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 24, 2015.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 52, 54.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 54.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 54, 56.
^ a b c d e f g McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 57.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 59.
^ a b c d e McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 58.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 61.
^ Harvey 2010.
^ a b McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 69.
^ a b McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 57–58.
^ Seldes 1924, p. 231.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 65.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 65–66; Pollack
2001, p. 205.
^ Pollack 2001, p. 205.
^ Gorman 1996, pp. 77–78; Beaty 2005, p. 57.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 66; Gabilliet,
Beaty & Nguyen 2010, p. 286; Petersen 2011, p. 108;
White 1963, p. 12; Schulz 2010, p. 114.
^ Gabilliet, Beaty & Nguyen 2010, p. 286.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 66; Mostrom 2010.
^ Wolk 2008, p. 353; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986,
p. 68; Gabilliet, Beaty & Nguyen 2010.
^ a b c McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 68.
^ a b McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 76.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 77.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 67–68.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 77–78.
^ a b McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 78–79.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986,
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 80–81.
Los Angeles Times staff 1931; Chicago Daily Tribune staff 1931.
^ a b c d e McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 81.
^ a b McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 86.
^ a b Sorel 1992, p. 24.
^ New York Times staff 1944; Time staff 1944.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 219.
^ a b Elam 2011, p. 79; Heer 2005.
^ a b c Sorel 1992, p. 25.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 88.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 88; Harvey 2010.
^ a b Boxer 2012.
^ Lyons 1944.
^ Sorel 1992, p. 25; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986,
^ a b c d Heer 2005.
^ a b Heer 2011.
^ Amiran 2000, p. 56.
^ Inge 1996, pp. 2–3.
^ Inge 1996, p. 4.
^ Harvey 2003, p. 60.
^ Kramer 1982.
^ Sabin 2002; Mostrom 2010.
^ Sabin 2002.
^ a b Heer 2010, p. 10.
^ Siegel 2004.
^ Heer 2010, p. 10; Ito 2003, p. 94.
^ a b Anderson 1999, p. 147.
^ Pollack 2001, p. 191.
^ Marschall 1997, p. 109; Tompkins 1996, p. 371.
^ Kramer 1982; Boxer 2006.
^ Anderson 1999, pp. 147–149.
^ McDonnell 2007, p. 6.
^ Lundy 2011.
^ Kaplan 2008, p. 38.
^ Jacobowitz 2007, p. 154.
^ a b Estren 1974, pp. 28, 30–31.
^ Estren 1974, pp. 30–31; Hignite 2006, p. 20.
^ a b Estren 1974, p. 30.
^ Heer 2010, p. 3.
^ a b Harrington Hall 2000, p. 55.
^ McGavran 1998, p. 6; Watterson 1995; Martell 2009, p. 71.
^ Healey 1998, p. 358.
^ Nel 2003, p. 70.
^ Nel 2003, pp. 72, 76.
^ Collins 1991, p. 220.
^ Collins 1994, pp. 119–120.
^ Gabilliet, Beaty & Nguyen 2010, pp. 253–245.
^ Ito 2003, p. 94.
^ Gardner 2013.
^ Anderson 1999, pp. 147–148.
^ Berger 1996, p. 124; Estren 1974, p. 112; Ito 2003.
^ Waugh 1947, p. 57; Johnson 1999, p. 208.
^ Baetens 2012, p. 109.
^ Anderson 1999, p. 159; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986,
^ a b Soper 2008, p. 83.
^ Johnson 1999, p. 208.
^ Anderson 1999, p. 152.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 85.
^ Tashlin 1946.
^ Gabilliet, Beaty & Nguyen 2010, pp. 287.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 221; Boxer 2012.
^ Heer 2010, pp. 13; Bloom 2003.
^ Heer 2010, pp. 10–11.
^ a b Mautner 2011.
Comic Book Resources
Comic Book Resources staff 2012.
^ Cornog 2012.
^ a b c McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 215.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon
1986, p. 216.
^ Blackbeard 1983, p. 51; McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon
1986, p. 216.
^ a b c d McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 218.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 211, 219.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, p. 67.
^ McDonnell, O'Connell & Havenon 1986, pp. 80, 218.
Anderson, Eric Gary (1999). "
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George Herriman". Inks: Cartoons and Comic Art Studies. 3 (2): 2–9.
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with Art Spiegelman". In Witek, Joseph. Art Spiegelman: Conversations.
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Seldes, Gilbert (1924). "The
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Journals and magazines
Amiran, Eyal (September 2000). "George Herriman's Black Sentence: The
Legibility of Race in Krazy Kat". Mosaic. 33 (3): 56–70. Retrieved
Blackbeard, Bill (June 1983). "The Forgotten Years of George
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for Peanuts, Jeff Smith's Series for Adults & Tezuka's Final
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Art". The Bookman: 263–274. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
Harvey, R. C. (February 2003). "Re-emerging Talent of the Year: George
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Journal. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
Ito, Robert (January 2003). "Love Hurts". Los Angeles. 48 (1): 94.
Lundy, Tiel (2011). "Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist".
Shofar. 29 (2): 193. doi:10.1353/sho.2011.0069. Retrieved
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Love Story". Nemo (32): 22–25.
Time staff (May 8, 1944). "Among the Unlimitless Etha". Time.
Boxer, Sarah (July 7, 2007). "Herriman:
Cartoonist Who Equalled
Cervantes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
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Daily Tribune. p. 22.
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Toronto Star. Archived from the original on December 23, 2005.
Kramer, Hilton (January 17, 1982). "Critics' Choices". The New York
Times. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
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Times. p. 20.
Lyons, Leonard (May 3, 1944). "The Lyons Den". Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
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Kat' Cartoons Created by a Crescent City-Born Artist". The
Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
Mostrom, Anthony (August 29, 2010). "L.A.
Cartoonist Was Obscure and
Misunderstood – the Epitome of Avant-Garde".
Los Angeles Times.
New York Times staff (April 27, 1944). "George Herriman, Noted
Cartoonist. Creator of 'Krazy Kat' Comic Strip Dies in Hollywood at
66. Once a House Painter". The New York Times. Retrieved
Sabin, Roger (June 16, 2002). "A Cat Above the Rest". The Observer.
Stern, Alexander (November 20, 2008). "Symphony in Black and White:
Krazy Kat Kontinued". Times Union. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
Tashlin, Frank (November 3, 1946). "In Coconino County". The New York
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Bloom, John (June 23, 2003). "
Krazy Kat Keeps Kracking". United Press
International. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
Gardner, Alan (May 10, 2013). "Schulz, Herriman inducted into Society
of Illustrators Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on
2013-06-28. Retrieved 2015-04-02.
Heer, Jeet (March 12, 2011). "Racism as a Stylistic Choice and other
Notes". The Comics Journal. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
Mautner, Chris (July 4, 2011). "Comics College George Herriman".
Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
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Comic Book Resources
Comic Book Resources staff (June 19, 2012). "IDW Publishing
Solicitations for September, 2012". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved
Marschall, Richard (December 1985). Marschall, Richard, ed. "The Diary
of a Deluded Dandy:
Baron Bean de la Mancha He Runs for Constable".
Fantagraphics Books (16): 6–14.
Orvell, Miles (Spring 1992). "Writing Posthistorically: Krazy Kat,
Maus, and the Contemporary Fiction Cartoon". American Literary
History. Oxford University Press. 4 (1): 110–128.
Tisserand, Michael (2016). Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and
White. Harper. ISBN 978-0061732997.
Media related to
George Herriman at Wikimedia Commons
ignatzmouse.net, "The only website dedicated to 'Ignatz Mouse'"
Comic Strip Library collection of public domain
Krazy Kat strips
Baron Mooch collection at Barnacle Press
Herriman's Krazy Kountry at Coconino World has selections from Mary's
Home from College
Video tour of George Herriman's New Orleans
Fitzgerald, Eddie (January 5, 2012). "Tracing the Evolution of George
Herriman's Style". Retrieved 2012-10-17.
Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame
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