Comic You Have to Read: Krazy Kat

Corey Pung hit by a brick by Ignatz in the style of George Herriman

If you’re at all interested in comics or their history, go out and read Krazy Kat.  If you’re not interested in comics, go ahead and read Krazy Kat.  To read excerpts for it, just type Krazy Kat into Google images and you’re likely to find a bunch of free strips.

I just happened to stumble across Krazy Kat at the library and checked it out on a whim.  I don’t think I’ve ever found a comic this good just by pure chance.  It’s a comic that dates back to 1913 (according to the Krazy Kat wikipedia page) and lasted for three decades.  It’s drawn by comics legend George Herriman.  A huge amount of newspaper comics owe a debt to Krazy Kat, which appeared in William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper.

The story is an unusual sort of love triangle.  Krazy Kat, the gullible black cat, is constantly hit in the back of the head by bricks thrown by Ignatz the reprehensible rat.  Krazy Kat, being krazy, assumes these pains are signs of affection from Ignatz, and so is hopelessly enamored to him.  Then there’s a dog, Officer Pup, who’s a “kop” who happens to love Krazy Kat for her (or his–it’s ambiguous) innocence.  Krazy Kat though never gets too close to Officer Pup because Pup is always putting his-or-her beloved Ignatz in stir for hitting Krazy Kat.  From this premise came tons and tons of great comics.

The other reason why I recommend this series is because the dialogue is all written in idiosyncratic vernacular, similar to Finnegan’s Wake.  Herriman spells words the way the characters pronounce them, often throwing in some of the chunkiest syllable sounds you’ll come across.  Here’s some examples.

Krazy Kat, looking bored and lonely, says “No skendil, no gotzip, no talk, no jebba-jebba, jess nuttin’–so dull.”

A pelican sings “Oh, gimme a dish/ of francy fried fish/ and I’ll be a happy old pelican/ and when I get ill/ instead of a pill/ I’ll take a eel and get well again.”

Officer Pup says, “A fine plan proceeds–with nimble progression–all is set and ready to ramble–I am keeping a tryst with evil–a rendevous with iniquity.”

So do yourself a favor and get wrapped up in the romance of Krazy Kat, Ignatz, and Officer Pup by reading Krazy Kat.

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