George Herriman's "Krazy Kat"

George Herriman (1881-1944), Krazy Kat: A Wail in the Night. A Watch in the Night. Pen and ink drawing, April 21, 1940. GA 2006.01942
George Herriman (1881-1944), Krazy Kat: [Krazy Kat follows Kitten, fends off Mouse], Pen and ink drawing on board, October 17, 1943. GA 2006.01941

George Herriman (1881-1944), Krazy Kat: [Echoes of yodeling], Pen and ink drawing on board, May 17, 194?, GA 2006.01940

Cartoonist George Herriman had a number of early comic strips before he found characters that clicked, including Major Ozone, Musical Mose, Acrobatic Archie, Professor Otto and his Auto, Two Jolly Jackies, Goosebury Sprig, and The Dingbat Family. In the last strip, he began a subplot in the margins of the main story, which involve the family’s cat and mouse. By 1913, the black cat and white mouse got their own strip called Krazy Kat. The cartoon ran for over thirty years and was going to continue after Herriman’s death but when William Randolph Hearst saw the work of the new artists, Krazy Kat came to an end.

There were a number of spin-offs. Herriman partnered with the composer John Carpenter to create Krazy Kat: A Jazz-Pantomime, which opened at New York’s Town Hall in January 1922. Herriman not only wrote the scenario but also designed the scenery and costumes.

Princeton is fortunate to hold several of Herriman’s original Krazy Kat panels in the graphic arts collection. Mendel Music Library has the score for his Jazz-Pantomime, along with a DVD of Carpenter’s score.

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951), Krazy Kat; A Jazz Pantomime (New York, G. Schirmer [c1922]). Mendel Music Library (MUS) Oversize M33.C3K7q

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951), Krazy Kat [sound recording] … (New York, NY : New World Records, [199-?]) Recorded at UCLA’s Royce Hall Auditorium. Mendel Music Library (MUS), A-302 N 228