HEY! KIDS! COMICS! : Everett True! Messmer! Gross! Herriman! Kurtzman! : September 15th, 2008


TODAY’S FEATURED ITEMS: John Adcock at Yesterday’s Papers brings us another great A.D. Condo Everett True strip (among other delights)…

The ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive brings us another huge batch of gorgeous scans of old Sunday newspaper strips, featuring Otto Messmer and Milt Gross in the fourth day of the Marc Deckter challenge

The Stripper’s Guide brings us the weekly batch of Herriman rarities in their ongoing Herriman Saturdays feature…

Finally, Comicrazys and Those Fabuleous Fifties both bring us some Harvey Kurtzman rarities…

Lots of other good stuff in the links today too… have fun!

HEY! KIDS! COMICS! : Whole Lotta Herriman : July 15th, 2008


I make it no secret that George Herriman is my favorite artist of all time… Herriman’s Krazy Kat I think is the greatest artwork ever made in any medium.

This has been probably the best week ever for finding Herriman reprints online.

First of all Allan Holtz at the Stripper’s Guide brought us his latest Herriman Saturday, as he does every Saturday… these posts feature an ongoing complete reprinting of early, early political and other cartoons from the Los Angeles Examiner by Herriman.

Next our friends at Barnacle Press (easily the best place to read ancient comics online) posted numerous examples of two early, extremely rare Herriman strips, Major Ozone’s Fresh Air Crusade and The Two Jolly Jackies. Note in the earliest Ozone strip presented from 1904, we already have a very familiar looking Kat inhabiting the bottom of the strip (a preview of which is pictured above).

Barnacle Press also pointed us to The Ignatz Archive, an online smörgåsbord of a whole bunch of rare early Herriman strips!

To top things off, I Love Comix printed a great Krazy Kat Sunday and Mark Kausler ran another wonderful bunch of Krazy Kat dailies (which he has been doing for some time now).

I can’t wait to have the time to read all these treasures!

Crumbling Paper: That Family Next Door

Here’s a nice example I scanned of That Family Next Door from 1918 by Kuatt? Knott? Can anyone identify this cartoonist? It’s a pretty polished cartoon, and a funny one, so I would think this is likely to have been done by a known cartoonist. Note the similarity in title and theme to George Herriman’s wonderful The Family Upstairs.

UPDATE: Reader D.D. Degg in the comments let us know that this is by cartoonist Jean Knott, who also did the strips Penny Ante and Eddie’s Friends. Thanks D.D.! See examples of Penny Ante on Barnacle Press here. See an example of Eddie’s Friends on Shorpy here.

Click the image to view the full strip.

Crumbling Paper: George Herriman’s Embarrassing Moments (aka Bernie Burns)

I found a couple of original George Herriman Embarrassing Moments (aka Bernie Burns) panels (from 1932 and 1931 respectively) on Ebay tonight. Note that the first one has racial depictions that some would find offensive, so you may not want to view it.

Click the image to view the full strip.

You can bid on the above strip here.

Click the image to view the full strip.

You can bid on the above strip here.

Obscure Images: Early Wolverton Original and Herriman Cigarette Buttons

Did you already buy that Milt Gross painting? No? Well, you could take that 600 bucks burning a hole in your pocket and bid on original art for this early, obscure Basil Wolverton strip instead.

What’s that? You don’t have $600? Well, I suppose you could bid on these two George Herriman cigarette pins made for Hassan and Tokio cigarettes in 1909 going for $16.50 and $12.50 respectively.

OK, I’ll stop now.

Bill Blackbeard’s Grand Scheme for the Herriman Reprints

Going through some old email, I ran across this old post from comics historian Bill Blackbeard to the Yahoo PlatinumAgeComics group that I had missed previously… in it he deliniates his grand scheme for his George Herriman reprint projects. Here’s what he said (circa April 29, 2004… so some of this may have changed):

By George. the Komplete Daily Komic Strips of George Herriman, edited by the undersigned, is indeed up for sale at Andy Feigery’s Spec Productions, retailing at $24.95. It’s a whopper of a book, the extreme outsize dictated by the need to properly showcase the original daily strip episodes so that all of Herriman’s often miniscule (and very funny) detail can be seen clearly. The three complete strtps included are Herriman’s first newspaper dailies: Mr Proones, Baron Mooch, and Gooseberry Sprigg, the Duck Duke (where we get our first look at Coconino County). 54 gigantic pages on antique cream stock to catch the cachet of old newsprint, opening from the top to facilitate reading ease. The next volume, due in three months, will carry a large swatch of The Dingbat Family/The FamilyUpstairs daily, which followed these first three titles into newsprint, again to be printed in large format to catch the details previously crammed into (and sometimes lost) in the shabbily printed Hyperion title. More volumes will cover the rest of the Dingbat epic and — of course — all of the initial years of the Krazy and Ignatz opus underfoot, then include all of Stumble Inn and Baron Bean, to turn to the last great daily, Krazy Kat itself. (Fantagraphics will, as planned, publish all of the kolor kat tabs from 1935 thru 1944 in a fine series of volumes, and will fit the Sunday Stumble Inn pp into odd corners of these titles. The handful of little known dailies not yet mentioned will be included in the Spec volumes over time (such as Mary’s Home From College and the like). Herriman’s illustrations for the archy & mehitable titles will not, however, be included, since they are an integral part of the don marquis text, which is widely available in several editions in the used book market. The KK dailies now being published in odd volumes and magazines roundabout will all be eventually included in the By George series, needless to say. Introductions and commentary to upcoming volumes will be solicited from our old pal Allen Sundry, so get ready to get into line, guys and gals! (This includes our own too long Eclipsed kat, of course.)

Bill B.

Currently the first five volumes of By George! The Komplete Daily Komics of George Herriman are currently available from Spec Productions, as are Krazy & Ignatz volumes 1-8 from Fantagraphics. This takes the Sunday Kat reprints up to 1940, if you include the previous series from Eclipse (that Fantagraphics will be reprinting the contents of with additional material (Stumble Inn) after the next 2 volumes are complete).

THE CARTOON CRYPT: Krazy Kat in the Moovin Pitchuhs


A studio called Banana Park recently produced a short adapting some George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strips using 3d computer animation (they claim it even made an “Oscar nomination short list” whatever that means)… you can see a short, tiny sample of the results and some stills from it here.

While obviously these are talented and competent folks who are sincere in their efforts, this just looks hideous to me… and I don’t think it is really their fault. Some of their other work looks great. Krazy Kat just doesn’t translate well to film in my opinion, and she REALLY doesn’t translate well to 3D.

They didn’t have much more luck adapting the charm of Krazy Kat to the screen in 1916…

They’re all right cartoons, sure, but they really don’t hold a candle… hell, they don’t even hold a wet match… to Herriman’s masterpiece. This is for a number of reasons I think.

The most obvious reason is that Herriman didn’t have a clean style… his characters were rough and scratchy and different in different panels. This isn’t generally done in animation, and it is pretty unheard of in 3D animation, since you have a computer model that you are moving around in 3d space. Non-canned (i.e. automated squashing, stretching, twisting, etc.) alterations to the model take a lot of effort. The rough lines on the 3d model of Krazy Kat in the pictures above just seem ugly, a pathetic and ridiculous effort to capture the charm of Herriman’s scratchy drawings. I have the same complaint about the Krazy Kat toys I’ve seen come out in recent years. Krazy just looks totally wrong in 3D… she just wasn’t designed for this dimension. I mean, the Kat has been known to peer over the horizon line! What are they thinking?

Another less obvious reason is the way Herriman made the characters live on the page through drawing them the same size and often from the same angle repeatedly… this gives the strips an intimacy in a way that I don’t think can be translated in any other medium. This is a lot of what makes the characters seem like “little sprites” as Herriman poetically put it.

All these cartoons are mercifully silent, although I would guess the 3D one probably has sound that is not on the sample. I pity the voice talent trying to compete with how Herriman’s off-kilter and poetically accented dialogue reads in one’s head.

I could be wrong about all of this though… Walt Kelly’s Pogo would seem to be very hard to adapt for many of the same reasons, but I love the stop-motion animated “I Go Pogo” movie (I’ve never had the opportunity to see Chuck Jones’ “Pogo Birthday Special,” unfortunately). It’s not as good as the strip, certainly, but its as good of a film as you could hope to make out of the Pogo characters, and it is gorgeously animated. So maybe someone could do a good Krazy Kat cartoon someday. Seems like a damn waste of time to attempt it though, when your chances of doing something half as good as the source material are slim to none.

Going off on a tangent, I find it depressing that 3D animation is often considered inherently superior to 2D animation, as if the point of a cartoon was to be realistic. 3D can be charming in the hands of good animators, don’t get me wrong… I love all the Pixar movies. But there are two things that 3D computer animation will most likely almost always fail miserably at… extreme realism, and extreme, off-model cartooniness. Krazy Kat obviously falls into the latter category.

(Note: Ironically, I have many of the same gripes about my largely unsuccessful 3D homage to the Fleischer Brothers, Take Me Away From the River.)

Crumbling Paper: Proto-Kats

As I’ve mentioned previously, my favorite cartoonist of all time is George Herriman, best known for the wonderful comic strip Krazy Kat (which thankfully been the subject of a lot of wonderful reprint books).

I was excited recently to purchase an old Sunday comic strip that includes what could be an early example of the Kat. It wouldn’t be the earliest proto-Kat… according to The Komplete Kat Komics Volume 1, that would be in Herriman’s 1903 strip Lariat Pete.

It’s an early (1906) strip from a largely forgotten Herriman series called Rosy Posy, a comic strip about a precocious little girl in the Buster Brown mold. This example of it includes a proto-Kat, red bow and all, who even has something to say in the last panel. You can view the entire strip by clicking the link… note that if racial caricatures offend you, you may not want to view it, as it includes a very stereotypical depiction of a black servant circa 1906.

That all said, this strip isn’t signed (or the signature has crumbled off), and although Rosy Posy is a Herriman strip according to the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, I really don’t think he drew this one. It doesn’t look at all like his style to me… it is much stiffer than the other Herriman strips I’ve seen from that period, and the characters look different than in the other examples I’ve seen. Heck, Rosy’s a brunette here, and a blonde in the other examples.

There is a Rosy Posy reference image in the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection that can be viewed here. You can see another 3 panel example of Rosy Posy (complete with another Kat example) on the Coconino County strip gallery here… however that example was also reprinted in The Komplete Kat Komics Volume 1, and this version is missing the last 3 panels.

There were a couple other strips of interest I purchased at the same time as the above. Here is a strip called Mrs. Timekiller by L.A. Searl. Note that there is a familiar Kat in the first panel of this strip as well!

Finally, (on the back of Mrs. Timekiller) here’s a delightful Thanksgiving-themed strip called Pinkie Prim Entertains ‘the Funny Folk,’ which, although not drawn by Herriman, contains three of his characters, Rosy Posy (again, a brunette), Major Ozone and Bud Smith. Also included in the festivities are Mooney Miggles, Uncle Ned (another tasteless racial depiction, so avoid viewing this if this sort of thing offends you), and of course, Pinkie Prim. This strip is drawn by the unfortunately-named Dick Wood.