Friday, November 18, 2005
Beyond Compare: Krazy Kat
Herriman's punning cartoon creations live in a world that is as fully realized as William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County and James Joyce's Dublin; the place has real depth, richness and complexity. What I find interesting is that when I read the strip I have the impression that the cartoonist is providing me with a view of a small number of the experiences the characters have lived through, and that there's a whole level of interaction amongst them that has occurred but that I haven't been shown. (Some of the movies I cherish give me the same impression about the characters in them.)
Herriman's strips are being collected by Fantagraphic Books. The latest volume (the sixth in the series) includes the initial run of color Sunday strips, and is preceeded a careful introductory essay by Jeet Heer covering Herriman's much-debated racial identity. (He was considered a New Orleans "creole"--a complex, ambiguous, and out-dated classification.) The Fantagraphics volumes are highly recommended, as is Patrick McDonnell, Karen O'Connell and Georgia Riley de Havenon, Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman, (Abradale Press, 1986).