|George Joseph Herriman
|(August 22, 1880 - April
Born in a light-skinned Creole of Colorfamily
in New Orelans, Louisiana
In his adolescence Herriman's father moved the family to Los
Angeles, California among many educated New Orleans Creoles
of Color to do so at the time in order to avoid the increasing
restrictions of Jim Crow laws in Louisiana. (In later life
many of Herriman's newspaper colleagues were under the impression
that Herriman's ancestry was Greek, and Herriman did nothing
to disuade them of this notion.)
At the age of 17 Herriman began working
as an illustrator and engraver for the Los Angeles Herald
newspaper. Over the next few years he did many newspaper
spot illustrations and cartoons, and produced several early
A sequence of drawings telling a story
in a newspaper or comic bookcomic strips, at times producing
several daily strips at the same time. Herriman's early
strips including Major Ozone, Musical Mose, Acrobatic Archie,
Professer Otto and his Auto, Two Jolly Jackies and several
others, most of which were only slightly above the average
quality of newspaper strips of the time.
George Joseph Herriman
Watch His Cartoon from 1915 ... Click here
Perhaps the first
indication of Herriman's unusual creativity and the bizarre
poetical sense of humor which would make him famous surfaced
in 1909 with his strip Goosebury Sprig, the Duck Duke.
following year Herriman began a domestic comedy strip called
The Dingbat Family. After a while Herriman started drawing
The Dingbat Family strip as two strips in one; the main action
happening with the human family taking up most of each panel,
and an unrelated storyline involving a cat and mouse underneath
the family's floorboards taking place in the bottom segment
of each panel.
This strip was then renamed The Family Upstairs.
The cat and mouse strip was then spun off into another strip
in 1913, originally Krazy Kat and Ignatz, and then Krazy Kat.
Herriman also continued drawing the
domestic comedy strip, again named The Dingbat Family, until
1916. From 1916 through 1919 Herriman also drew the daily
strip Baron Bean. Herriman would continue to draw other strips
in addition to Krazy Kat through 1932.
Krazy Kat, however,
was the strip which became Herriman's most famous. It was never the most popular strip of its day; many readers
complained it made no sense. However it had an enthusiastic
following, including many prominent artists and intellectuals
of the era, as well as Herriman's publisher William Randolph
Hearst, United States newspaper publisher whose introduction
of large headlines and sensational reporting changed American
journalism (1863-1951)William Randolph Hearst himself.
On June 25, 1944,
two months after Herriman's death, the last of his Krazy Kat
strips was printed. At the time Hearst
usually brought in new cartoonists when the artists of a popular
strip died or quit, but an exception was made for Herriman,
as no one else could take his place.
Herriman was the illustrator for the first printed edition
of Don Marquis, Humorist who wrote about the imaginary life
of cockroaches (1878-1937)Don Marquis' archy and mehitabel
archy and mehitabel stories.