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George Herriman: Happy Birthday!

AUGUST 22, 2006
detail from a poster for Krazy Kat cartoons by George Herriman
Bow your heads guys and gals and observe the day that George Herriman entered the world (August 22, 1880).

I have prepared a short testimonial:

Oh boy… George Herriman: the brilliant cartoonist responsible for Krazy Kat. I'm one of those people who totally love anything Herriman. He is the Shakespeare of comics. You have to read Krazy aloud (your less appreciative friends will eventually leave you) to capture the brilliance and wit of Herriman's poetic patois. There are a few good web sites with many strips reproduced and very good books so there really is no excuse not to do a survey.

Herriman was a humble, superb (and laid back) designer. His layouts and inventive typography and his sense of timing in the Krazy Kat strips is masterful. I think his artistic influence is obvious but even more so is his artistic persona: quiet, shy, deep and steady, full of sharp but gentle humor, perceptive and psychological, male (the loner and laconic cowboy who loved "Injun Country" (Kayenta, Arizona).

I've actually spent a lot of time in the Kayenta area (college summers working for Peabody Coal Company archaeologists on nearby Black Mesa) and it's easy to imagine Herriman and his pals rummaging around the Navaho Reservation trading posts and Monument Valley vistas acting silly and poetically inspired by turns. George Herriman was a brilliant original artist who's timeless insight celebrated the foibles of human behavior in a uniquely American vernacular space.
Topical: artist birthdays