- Hardcover: 560 pages
- Publisher: Harper (December 6, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061732990
- ISBN-13: 978-0061732997
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White Hardcover – December 6, 2016
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
An Amazon Best Book of December 2016: Krazy: A Life in Black and White is the exhaustively researched and fascinating story of a trailblazer with a secret. Nicknamed “The Greek” by a fellow cartoonist, owing to his swarthy complexion and curly hair (which he typically kept hidden under a fedora), it wasn’t until George Herriman, creator of the perpetually lovestruck Krazy Kat, had been dead for twenty-seven years that a would-be biographer discovered the secret Herriman had guarded all his life. He was the product of a mixed-race marriage, and had, like two generations of Herrimans before him, been able to “pass for white.” The creator of a comic strip that has been infinitely more influential among cartoonists and intellectuals than it was popular with the American public (the strips only appeared in newspapers for twenty years because newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst was such a fan he gave Herriman a lifetime contract; a visitor to Herriman’s editor found an office junior sopping up a water leak with original Krazy Kat art), this new biography finally gives Herriman his due and frames him as a visionary whose influence helped shape popular culture for decades after his death. It takes a fresh and knowing look at the cheerfully subversive cartoons involving the put-upon but loving black cat and his white, brick-throwing love/nemesis. In addition, Tisserand provides eye-opening dimension with regard to the scale of Herriman’s influence: Michael Chabon, Will Eisner, Charles Schulz, ee cummings and many others credit him with inspiring their work (you may never look at the zigzag on Charlie Brown’s t-shirt again without remembering that it was Charles Schulz’s tribute to the Navaho designs that recurred in Herriman’s work). Ultimately, the reader comes away with a sobering idea of what an exhausting job it must have been for a gentle genius, living on the color line in the first half of twentieth century America, pursuing a career and a point of view that never would have been open to him had his true racial identity been known. —Vannessa Cronin, The Amazon Book Review
“One of the many virtues of Michael Tisserand’s richly illustrated biography of George Herriman, the creator of “Krazy Kat,” is its evocation of the early 20th-century newspaper world from which it sprang.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Essential reading for comics fans and history buffs, Krazy is a roaring success, providing an indispensable new perspective on turn-of-the-century America.” (Kirkus (starred))
“Who was the man behind “Krazy Kat”? This fascinating biography and guide to the work of the cartoonist, who passed for white, tells the full story.” (New York Times)
“Tisserand … has written the rarest kind of book: scholarship that is accessible and captivating, genuinely fun to read. His prose sparkles, smooth and flowing, rich with metaphor and invention.” (Chicago Tribune)
“... one of the year’s best biographies.” (Boston Globe)
“Krazy, so rich in anecdote and so warm in affection, succeeds in adding a good deal to the wonder of George Herriman’s legacy – mainly by putting the artist in last place on Earth he liked to be: in the spotlight, center stage.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“It’s one of the best true stories told in 2016.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“... engaging, revealing…. Herriman’s adventures in newspapering in the early years of the 20th century are alone worth the price of the book.... Whether you’re a longtime Krazy Kat fan, as I am, or a new acquaintance, this biography will enrich your knowledge of the Kat and its creator.” (Tampa Bay Times)
“Perhaps no one in his field is as deserving of a top-notch, in-depth biography as Herriman. And with Michael Tisserand’s Krazy we now have a most valuable, studiously researched, and, indeed, definitive profile of the man that does him full justice.” (Print)
“Herriman’s delight in anarchic transformation and gentle subversion had personal roots, as Michael Tisserand reveals in this scrupulously researched, luminously written and eye-opening biography.” (The Times Literary Supplement)
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-4 of 34 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Michael Tisserand has done fans and comics historians an incredible service with this massively researched book. While many may know and love the Kat, you have never really known his creator in full. This book remedies that, and how!
Clearly, the best book on a comics creator this year (and perhaps for years to come) this is essential reading for fans. But by digging as deep as he has, Tisserand has created a biography that anyone interested in race in America should also read. While racial identity is today called a social construct, this story details how race cruelly determined the fate of generations of Americans. Had Herriman not been able to 'pass' as white (he was often called 'the Greek' in newsrooms he worked), his creation of the world of Coconino County would never have happened.
Anyone who reads this book and has not read Krazy, should immediately check out Herriman's life's work (in print from several publishers). It's amazing that newspaper cartooning began in the last century at the highest possible plateau and was slowly ground down over the decades into the dreck they call Sunday Comics today. And now the man behind the Kat has finally received – belatedly – the bio he deserves. Thank you, Michael Tisserand.
Even so, Herriman's "mixed" racial heritage never entirely left him. Among his white fellow newspaper cartoonists, he identified himself as Irish or Greek, yet was teased about his highly curly ('kinky') hair to the point that he rarely removed his hat. Tisserand shows how racial concerns show up in Herriman's earlier works, especially sporting cartoons that criticized the "color bar" that kept African-American prizefighters from contending against the whites in the early Twentieth Century.
It is not too surprising that, since this is a biography of Herriman, nearly half the book elapses before Herriman takes "Krazy Kat" and friends from a side (usually vertical) panel running as part of a "domestic comedy" strip called THE DINGBAT FAMILY into its own prominence, in 1913. From that point on, Herriman played gleefully (and, some would say, subversively) along the lines of racial identity, gender (Krazy is usually a "she," sometimes a "he" and sometimes a neuter "sprite,") and societal expectations. (So ardent is Ignatz the Mouse's love for Krazy that when his brick-throwing gets out of hand, 'Offisa Pupp' has to step in to restore order, frequently playing the heavy.)
"Krazy Kat" was never a top-running strip, and its experimentalism seemed odd in a genre increasingly devoted to conventional action serials and domestic "sitcoms" like LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE and BRINGING UP FATHER. However, the Kat was beloved by intellectuals and artists of all stripe. Woodrow Wilson was said to fortify himself with that day's "Kat" feed before stepping into contentious cabinet meetings. Cultural critic Gilbert Seldes praised the strip in the DIAL magazine, strengthening the idea that American art forms like comic strips and jazz provided as much art as "high" (Euro-derived) art and music. Poet E.E. Cummings was so in love with the strip that he volunteered to write the first introduction to the first book of printed "Kat" kartoons. Current cartoonists like Art Spiegelman and Patrick O'Donnell ("Mutts") acknowledge their debt to Herriman.
Despite Krazy Kat's low ratings (one poll in the Chicago TRIBUNE actually voted the strip out), it found a friend in the cartoon syndicates owner, media mogul William Randolph Hearst. (Despite Orson Welles' ogreish portrayal as "John Foster Kane" in the movie CITIZEN KANE, it seemed "the Boss" appreciated humor and those who could draw it.) Thus Hearst kept "Krazy" in his stable, and Herriman employed, until the artist's death in 1944. (At that time, the Kat ran in only about twenty newspapers; BLONDIE in nearly a thousand.)
Author Michael Tisserand has done a tremendous job of researching not only George Herriman's complex racial heritage but his life through those who knew him as a shy, almost painfully modest man who fell in love with the Navajo country of Arizona, its buttes and bluffs, and the fondness he held for the Navajo people that they returned, in kind, to him.
I'd like to give this very satisfying work five stars, but I can't quite, for two reasons (1) next to nothing is said about the third member of the Krazy-Ignatz structure, the aggressive bulldog "Offisa Pupp." Even as a stock figure, the Pupp's place in this comic cannot be disputed. Also, I thought it was a shame that this book permitted no reprints from allied or competing cartoonists -- and "Krazy" her/himself appears only in black and white, not the desert tints Herriman lovingly applied to his Sunday panels.