An End and a Beginning

Here are the last three weeks of Herriman’s Krazy Kat from 5-13 to 6-3-1944. Joe Stork makes his final appearance in the 5-13 and 5-14 strips, bringing a “bindle” to Mrs. Coyote, who seems used to many pups. Krazy at the diner in the 5-19 and 5-20 strips seems obscure to me, especially in the 5-19, as Krazy waits outside the Diner doors, too docile to heed the first calls to Dinner, Lunch and Breakfast. Krazy is so docile that he falls asleep outside the diner, a shy and hungry Kat. Offissa Pupp avoids Krazy’s questions about the equator and the north and south poles in the 5-22 and 5-23 strips, just like a father ignoring his child’s annoying questions. The Diner series of strips ends with the 5-26, as a very fat Krazy eats everything in the diner. In the 5-27, a mysterious thing occurs, as a palm tree picks up Ignatz’s brick and hides it from Offissa Pupp. In the final week of the Krazy dailes, Ignatz brags in the 6-1, that no matter how far or how near he throws the brick, he wins! In the 6-2 strip, Herriman’s ugliest drawings of Krazy are in the last two panels as Krazy angrily discovers that what he thought was an “eggo” is actually Ignatz. In the 6-3, Garge introduces a couple of new characters, a dog and her drunken husband. Offissa Pupp is the last classic character to appear in the KK dailes. Herriman draws Krazy and the Pupp with jowls in the last strips, placing a dividing line under the noses, creating a sort of peeved expression on the characters’ faces. It’s sort of a subtle indicator of aging. For the next several posts, the Catblog features a Herriman daily strip that has never been collected before,”Now Listen Mabel”, from 7-28 to 8-2-1919, 102 years ago. The San Francisco Examiner, where these strips came from, didn’t start carrying Mabel until July, missing the earliest strips from April. They carried it all the way to the last strip, dated 1-10-1920, later than generally thought by the historians. According to Herriman’s biographer, Michael Tisserand, George McManus, creator of “Bringing Up Father”, endorsed “Now Listen Mabel” in a special ad that ran in the Hearst newspapers. Here’s a paragraph describing the strip: ” Now Listen Mabel introduced Mabel and her boyfriend, a shipping clerk named Jimmie Doozinberry. Mabel and Doozinberry’s boss, Mr. Sisstim, regularly conspire against Doozinberry until he finally cries out, “Now Listen Mabel.” Although “Mabel” was the name of both Herriman’s wife and his oldest daughter, the likely inspiration was a popular collection of gag verses with the punch line “Ain’t it awful, Mabel?” Herriman also must have noted the success of Rube Goldberg, who based several strips on catchphrases, most notably I’m the Guy. However, Now Listen Mabel was not destined to become the country’s next catchphrase, and the strip concluded before the end of the year.” That last statement is not quite true, for reasons I’ve given above. I’ve linked a video featuriing a lecture that Michael Tisserand, author of Krazy, George Herriman,  a :Life in Black and White,  did in 2016 about Herriman and the odd facets of his life as a man and a cartoonist. Enjoy it, and I’ll be posting again soon.

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