I told you before about a cartoonist from ancient ‘Toon Times named Fontaine Fox. He was a master, and I acknowledge him as one of my greatest inspirations. But he was not the original master mentor for my teenage ‘Toon Training. That honor goes to the inestimable George Herriman. He was the Krazy Kartoonist who died more than a decade before I was born, yet, through his Kreation, Krazy Kat, did more to warp my artistic bent into Krazy Kartooniana Mania than anybody else. I discovered him first. I found him through Komic books and the Kard Katalog at the local library. I own a copy of the book I pictured first in this post. It is the first Kartoon book I ever bought. I couldn’t post a picture of my actual book here because I have read it so often in the past forty years that the Kover has Kome off. It is now more of folder of loose pages than a book.
Krazy Kat is a newspaper Komic strip that ran all around the world from 1913 to 1944. Comics Journal would rate Krazy Kat as the greatest work of Komic art of the 20th Century. Art critics hailed it as serious art, and it fits snugly into the surrealist movement of Salvador Dali and others. It has been cited as a major influence on the work of other artists such as Will Eisner, Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Bill Watterson, and Chris Ware.
The centerpiece of the strip is a love triangle. Krazy Kat the Kharacter is a feline who may be female or may be male but is definitely deeply in love with Ignatz Mouse. The Krazed rodent hopped up on seriously stinky fromage (cheese to us non-French speakers), is Konstantly throwing bricks at Krazy’s head… obviously out of serious disdain, however, Krazy sees it as a confession of love. Offisa Pup, the police watchdog, wants to jail the malevolent mouse for battery and protect the precious Kat, whom he obviously loves with an unrequited love. Explanations are superfluous in the weird world of Krazy Kat. How can I explain the charm, the humor, the good-natured violence of a strip such as this? There are echoes of it in Tom and Jerry animated cartoons, but nothing like it really exists anywhere else. Krazy has her own unique language, a language that you naturally learn to interpret as you read the strip. Ignatz exhibits psychotic frustrations that he takes out on the world around him in our name, that we might experience hubris at his expense. And what’s with that mysterious sack of “Tiger Tea” that Krazy carries about and keeps a Klosely guarded “sekrit”?
I honestly hope you will give Krazy Kat a thorough “look-see”. Because if you like Kartoons at all… and it doesn’t have to be the Krazy Kooky love of a seriously overdosed addict like me… you will fall desperately in love with this one. It is a world of its own, a superbly superfluous abstract anachronism. It is a surrealist’s dream of fun with puns and tons of buns… or something like that. Simply put… read it and don’t like it… I dare you!