Krazy & Ignatz: “A Kind, Benevolent and Amiable Brick”, 1919-1921 (2011), George Herriman (ed. Bill Blackbeard), 175 pp.; Krazy & Ignatz: “A Ragout of Raspberries”, 1941-1942 (2011), George Herriman (ed Bill Blackbeard), 119 pp.
Here’s a sample of Herriman’s wordplay. Ignatz (the sinful mouse who always wants to bean Krazy Kat with a brick) is carrying a covered dish, and Officer Pup (local sheriff who knows what’s on Ignatz’s mind) is curious:
Ignatz: Adios, chaparrita, chula [with musical notes to denote singing]
Officer Pup: A covered dish, in it could be a raggoo of lamb, or a savory stew, a mess of frijoles, or a creep sussett. Yet all I can picture in my mind is the sinister shape of sin.
I: If you have aught to say to me, Kop, I beg that you speak quickly. I have a need of speed.
OP: Grant me a bit of moment, mousie. Think me not too distasteful, too brash that I plead for this boon.
I: Were this moment mine, Koppie, I would give it all to you. Every tick of it, every tock of it, but …
OP: You dilute the virile tea of courage which feeds my heart. You soften the stern of me with the sweet soothe of your generosity. Yet still must I bid you, pause.
And so on. Is there a brick under that covered dish? Is Krazy Kat about to get a love-missile from her beloved Ignatz? (BTW, it’s unclear if Krazy is male or female, as Herriman’s pronouns tend to shift. Even Krazy herself (himself?) is unclear about this.)
Whether the brick gets flung at Krazy’s head is the basic plot line of these comic strips, which Herriman began drawing before WWI and then continued until well into the 1940s. These are just 2 volumes of a 12-volume set, wherein are published the Sunday comics that Herriman drew. Another volume has the dailies from the 1910s and 1920s — for those who just can’t get enough.
Where is the joy in watching a cat get weekly (or daily) lumps from a mouse? 1) the drawings — so detailed, so fascinating. Herriman’s Ignatz is a tiny mass of irritation, with spindly arms and legs that can toss a brick over a wall. And 2) the language — the excerpt above is just a tidbit. Krazy Kat has her own special lingo (“Golla, I’ll folla him, and soon as he dillivas the goods I’ll desh in and be the first one to kingretulate Mr. and Mrs. Bark”), and Herriman’s Coconino is full of weird and wonderful characters. Who else but Herriman would create a fancified duck named “Gooseberry Sprig”?
So, for fun and amusement, check out Krazy and Ignatz, from any decade.
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I remember seeing examples of Krazy Kat when I was young, living in Hong Kong in the 50s, which was as much influenced by US culture as British (and culture from everywhere else, of course). Probably it was still being syndicated in the papers. I loved the pictures but the language and its crazy logic defeated my youthful understanding. I would now love it, of course.
KK in HK — who would have thought?