Krazy Kat

Krazy Kat

Blog post by Dean
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Krazy Kat is a cartoon that ran in the New York Evening Journal from 1913 to 1944. It was odd for its time, and it’s odd today: the action revolves around a mouse named Ignatz throwing bricks at a Kat named Krazy while they recite near gibberish. The cartoonist, George Herriman, drew the strip before and during both world wars, in the era of Cubism, Dada, and SurrealismKrazy Kat is the cartoon version of those weird art movements, and it takes some getting used to. It wasn’t a huge hit then, though some critics raved about it, but it has played well since. Its goofiness is timeless; its ambiguity gives readers something to chew on... and then there's the art. 

There are elements of Krazy Kat in later cartoons: you’ll be struck by the landscape. Herriman lived in Arizona and he put Krazy and Ignatz in a desert of sunset colors and looney shapes, like where Wile E. Coyote (genius) lives. Ignatz Mouse looks a whole lot like another famous mouse who showed up for the first time in 1928 driving a steamboat. Could be coincidence. One mouse looks pretty much like the next.

Reprints and anthologies of the strip abound, but there hasn’t been a full-length biography of Krazy Kat’s creator until now. If you like a lot of detail, this is your book. It is exhaustive: 560 pages, though there are lots of illustrations. It is analytic: it talks about drawings that appear in the book and drawings that don’t. You can see the strips author Tisserand discusses but doesn’t reproduce on this site:


Krazy is probably best for the Kat obssessed; it might be more than a casual reader is willing to take on. But if the strip sounds interesting to you, try one of the anthologies. We have lots of them here at Austin Public: