Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Zip! Pow! ♥: Krazy Kat review

The old saw states that "you can't tell a book by its cover", but that does not hold true for the George Herriman Krazy Kat and Ignatz collections by Fantagraphics and available through W.W. Norton. Each cover of the Krazy Kat and Ignatz collection is trippy, surreal and make your eyes spin to look at them, and that is good. The covers are fair warning that you have to be At Least This Cool to get on the dark ride to Coconino County and lets a reader know that there is some great comic strip storytelling inside.

Each book in the collection starts out with a bit of Herriman history and some of his rare art featuring early work, political cartoons and even articles about his work in other media. I am an unabashed Herriman fan, so any collection is a a great thing for me. I can't really give a good review of the work of Herriman itself, his strip is a classic of the genre and speaks for itself. I can however speak to how much I enjoyed the quality of the collections. The Fantagraphics Krazy Kat series is a good package. The books are printed on respectable stock and has quality binding. The printing is crisp, rendering the often scratchy original art of Herriman that was intended for a mediocre newsprint medium as legible and clear. The re-colored pages are a particular delight. It is disappointing to read some publisher collections and have the pages fall out and the ink smudge, and these books have held up well to my moving about between residences, page flipping and casual style of reading.

One aspect I appreciate as a parent is that other than the minor cartoon violence of a mouse throwing bricks at a cat's head is that the books are remarkably child-safe for a body of work from the 1920s-1930s. The usually negative stereotypes of ethnic groups common for the popular media of the era are nearly absent from Herriman's work.

The Krazy Kat collection is suitable for the casual reader, the fan and can be positioned on the coffee table so as to appear smart without being pretentious. So you can put away those unread copies of New Yorker cartoons, Anne Liebowitz photos and Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and replace them with these. Even the casual or professional art and genre historian can appreciate the books for the influences of the Herriman-style on more modern works (The landscapes drawn by Herriman can be seen as the inspiration for the desert settings in the Warner Bros. Road Runner cartoons). Best of all, these books are very fun.

Disclosure: Copies of the Krazy Kat and Ignatz collections were supplied for the purposes of review by Bully of Comics Should Be Fun! You can contact him for more info on the collection.


1 comment:

  1. Excellent.

    I'm also a big fan of Wacky Cat and Eniz, do I was planning on getting this regardless. I'm glad another fan, such as yourself, has given this particular collection a thumbs up.

    Definately added to the list.


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