Craig Yoe's new book, Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman: A Celebration, published by Abrams ComicArts, is a gorgeous volume of comic strips, unpublished art, essays, memorabilia, and illustrations from one of the world's most talented cartoonists.
My favorite things in Krazy Kat strips are the backgrounds, and I'm glad that Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) mentions them in his introductory appreciation for the book: "
Nothing in Krazy Kat had a supporting role, least of all the Arizona desert setting. Mountains are striped. Mesas are spotted. Trees grow in pots. The horizon is a low wall the characters climb over. Panels are framed by theater curtains and stage spotlights. Monument Valley monoliths are drawn to look more like their names. The moon is a melon wedge, suspended upside down. And virtually every panel features a different landscape, even if the characters don't move. The land is more than a backdrop. It is a character in the story, and the strip is “about” that landscape as much as it is about the animals who populated it.Below, sample pages from Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman: A Celebration, By Craig Yoe, published by Abrams ComicArts:
Krazy Kat & the Art of George Herriman is a tribute to one of the most influential and innovative comic strips and creators of all time. This unique collection of rare art, essays, memorabilia, and biography highlights the career of the first genius of comics, George Herriman, and his iconic creations, Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse.
During its 31-year run, Krazy Kat was enormously popular with the public, as well as influential writers, artists, and intellectuals of the time. This book includes original essays by Jay Cantor, Douglas Wolk, Harry Katz, Richard Thompson, Dee Cox (Herriman's granddaughter), Craig McCracken, Bill Watterson, and authorized reprints of two seminal essays on Herriman by Gilbert Seldes and E. E. Cummings, alongside newly discovered vintage essays by TAD, Summerfield Baldwin, and Toots Herriman. With Krazy Kat & the Art of George Herriman, Craig Yoe reveals this influential artist and writer for a whole new generation.
“Is that art?” Offissa Pupp asks. The inscription reads, “Elmer’––Yern––Herriman.” Elmer “Al” Raguse Sr. was the director of sound at Hal Roach Studios. Late 1930s. Previously unpublished. Credit: KRAZY KAT™ Hearst Holdings, Inc. Illustration courtesy of The Raguse Family.
The essence of the unholy triangle between the Kat, the Mouse, and the Pupp. Previously unpublished. 1930s.
Credit: KRAZY KAT™ Hearst Holdings, Inc. Courtesy of Craig Yoe’s collection of Herriman art.
A blue velour-covered book was presented to William Randolph Hearst by the artists of the King Features Syndicate in honor of his 79th birthday. The artists included Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon), Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), Chic Young (Blondie), and George Herriman. Herriman’s dedication reads, “Could be our boss. Could be our chief. Could be our friend. Could BE.––Herriman, ‘Enchanted Masa.’ A.D.?” April 29, 1942. Previously unpublished.
Credit: KRAZY KAT™ Hearst Holdings, Inc. Courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries.
Rear Endpaper: Previously unpublished drawing by George Herriman done as a gift to someone named Harry Fradsen, with the dedication “mit luff und dewotion.” Herriman drew the bookplate for his granddaughter Dinah Pascal (Dee Cox) when she was five years old. Dee says, “The Plato reference is because Pop hoped I would learn to love literature.” Credit: KRAZY KAT™ Hearst Holdings, Inc. Courtesy of Craig Yoe’s collection of Herriman art.