Krazy & Ignatz: "A Mice, A Brick, A Lovely Night." 1929-1930 - George Herriman

Krazy Kat is a bit hard to explain, but it's a wonderful comic strip from the late 1920s. The foreword explains that Hearst was a big fan of Herriman's and kept his strip going, despite the fact that it had very few other fans and people wrote angry letters complaining that it didn't make sense. I suppose it was a little like the "Zippy the Pinhead" of its day, only Hearst gave Herriman full-page Sunday layouts to play with, and it's a more whimsical and innocent than Zippy.

Herriman had a great sense for lyrical sounds, and his characters speak an odd mix of pidgin English. Krazy Kat especially is known for spouting off strange words that sound like English but aren't quite. Here's an example of Herriman's alliterative narration at the start of a strip:

"Ignatz" complains of the law that erx his ego, sears his soul, and the enforcement of which renders him bereft of liberty, and his fatuous facility for fair fare. He chafes at the curtailment of a certain pursuit conducive to his pleasure ... whereat he grieves, greets, and groans, and croons a rueful rune redundant with resentment.

And here's a sampling of Krazy's odd dialect, from one of his songs: "A soff bonnie brizz blows hard oar the lee,/But wote a lee is, is immitirril to me..."

It's amazing how much mileage Herriman gets out of a very simple gag: Mouse throws brick at Cat, Cat thinks it's a sign of love, Dog arrests Mouse to protect Cat. And round and round it goes.

Fed to jonathan's brain | July 10, 2005 | Comments (0)


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