George Herriman

George Herriman am Zeichenbrett, ca. 1917
George Herriman at the board, approx. 1917

George Joseph Herriman (* 22. August 1880 in new Orleans; † 25. April 1944 in Los Angeles) was an US-American Comiczeicher and caricaturist. Its most well-known work is the Comic Krazy Kat.

Table of contents



George Herriman was the first child of George Herriman Jr. and its Mrs. Clara, geb. Morel. It had three younger brothers and sisters, Henry, Ruby and Pearl. Its parents kreolischer descent ( Lit were supposed.: McDonnell among other things) or however descendants of Greek immigrants (so Bill Blackbeard, the publisher of the Krazy Kat - anthologies). Anyhow Herrimans became parents because of their comparatively dark Teints in the racistic Southern States, to which Louis IANA belonged, when equally does not treat „the white “descendant of the north and Central Europeans. This, connected with the difficult economic situation in the south, might have been the reason that the Herrimans pulled 1886 to California. In Los Angeles Herrimans father opened first a Frisörsalon, later then a baker's shop.

From 1891 to 1897 Herriman visited the pc. Vincent' s college, a catholic school for boys. , He broke training off, probably in the baker's shop of its father after short time again. As a child Herriman had begun to draw. As a young person he worked starting from 1895 for local newspapers as a diagram assistant. Fast one became attentive to its indication talent, and starting from 1897 he supplied illustrations and caricatures for to Los Angeles with the Herald. Briefly after 1900 he received first orders for San Francisco Examiner, which belonged to William Randolph Hearst.

beginnings of the Zeitungscomics

the beginnings of Herrimans career coincide with the beginning of the American Zeitungscomics. 1892 created James Swinnerton with Califiornia Bears of the first sequential Comicstrip. Starting from 1895 smelling pool of broadcasting corporations appeared Felton Outcaults The Yellow Kid. The new series led to a substantial increase of the newspaper editions, why publishers abwarben themselves such as Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer the best draughtsmen mutually. Before the background of this competition the new art form developed rapidly. (The English expression for boulevard press, „yellow press “, by the way deduces themselves from the Comic The Yellow Kid ).

to 1900-1913

George Herriman, signiertes Foto von 1902
George Herriman, marked photo of 1902

1900 Herriman went to New York, since there better publication possibilities promised the multiplicity of the newspapers. At first he as free coworkers for the humoristic magazine Judge and a set of daily papers worked. To its first half or full-page Comicserien belonged to musical Mose, professor Otto and Arcobatic archie (all 1902), Lariate Pete and Two Jolly Yak-gravel (both 1903), major Ozone (1904), Rosy' s mummy (1906), Bud Smith and zoo zoo (all 1906), Mr. Proones the plungers and The Amours OF Marie Anne Magee (both 1907), baron Mooch and Alexander (both 1909). Several of these series appeared in the four-colour print in Sundays supplements of newspapers.

After Herriman had been established in New York, he married 1902 its engaged Mabel Lillian Bridge in Los Angeles and returned with it to New York. The first daughter, Mabel, was born 1903, second, Barbara, 1909. Starting from June 1903 Herriman was firmly employed with the New York World. In January 1904 it changed New York to the DAILY one news and in the April of this yearly to Hearsts New York American. In the middle of 1905 it returned to Los Angeles, where it worked starting from at the beginning of of 1906 as politics and a sport caricaturist for Hearsts Los Angeles Examiner. Besides it drew also here Comics, so the series baron Mooch, in whom for the first time in particular the figure Krazy Kat arose (a very similar cat was 1903 in the Comic Lariat Pete to already see). At the end of of 1909 appeared the series of Gooseberry Sprig, whose Protagonist later to the personnel of the Krazy Kat - Comics to belong should.

William Randolph Hearst, which promoted the Comics in its sheets much, had become attentive meanwhile on the talent of the young Herriman. 1910 one beorderte it therefore as Comiczeichner into the New Yorker center of its Zeitungsimperiums back. Here Herriman center 1910 began the series of The thing-asked Family. In this Comic thing-asked for the family gradually a mysteriöse family, which lives over the Dingbats, took approximately ever more area. The Dingbats tries to find consequence out around consequence, who its neighbours are - to get without them however ever to face. After some time the names of the Strips accordingly in The Family Upstairs („the family from above “) one renamed. In this Comic Herriman led further figures in a mouse and a cat, which lived under the Dingbats and whose stories in small panels were told below the main action. Thus the pair Ignatz Mouse and Krazy Kat developed.

Krazy Kat

1913 finally got cat and mouse their own series. The daily Comicstrip was called Krazy Kat at the beginning of Krazy Kat and Ignatz, soon however only. Starting from 1916 also full-page stories of the two appeared in the sunday editions of the Hearst newspapers. Krazy Kat had fast success and announced Herriman. In the same year the first Krazy Kat - Zeichentrickfilm produced - became already Herrimans Krazy was thus the first animated cat of film history. After the First World War ever more intellectual one and artist belonged such as Dorothy Parker or ring Lardner to its readers and Bewunderern. Also Gertrude stone could be sent the Krazy Kat - Comics to Paris, where she showed and explained her allegedly among other things Pablo Picasso enthusiastically. 1922 produced John Alden Carpenter a Krazy Kat - ballet, and the critic and writer Gilbert Seldes explained fair Krazy Kat to 1922 in Vanity as the largest work of the contemporary American art. Vanity fair took up Herriman on it 1923 to its „resounds to OF Fame “. In Seldes article is called it: „The appearing daily Comicstrip Krazy Kat of George Herriman is for me the merriest, fantastischste and artistically most satisfying work of art, which is created today in America. “(Lit.: McDonnell etc., S. 15)

Herrimans „Coconino County “

Merrick’s Butte
Merrick' s Butte

between 1911 and 1916 Herriman came sometime for the first time to Arizona into the area approximately around the Monument Valley. The landscape of this meager dry region with their witness mountains and arts and crafts that there resident Navajo - Indian affected his work substantially. Place names do not only emerge such as Kayenta, Coconino County (somewhat further south convenient) and many other more again and again in Krazy Kat ; the influence of the landscape and the light, which Herrimans indication art coined/shaped from then on, is more important. In addition numerous ornamentations inspired by the art of the Indians came. Up to its death Herriman visited the remote region at least once in the year. Usually it lived there at the friendly married couple John and Louisa Wetherill, which led a trade post in Kayenta and which investigated culture of the Navajo.


Herriman with its family pulled 1922-1944 back to Los Angeles. Also after the success of Krazy Kat he still drew baron Bean, further into the 1930er years inside, Stumble Inn and US Husbands series , under it. In the second half of the 1920er years changed the cultural climate in the USA. In Comic, film and radio modernistic beginnings lost likewise at popularity like sense-free Klamauk. In the trend lay more realistic comedies, music films and crime film - which affected also the Comics. Less and less Hearst newspapers wanted to print Herrimans Comics, and 1934 the sun-daily Krazy Kat was - side in the New York Evening journal to only find. The fact that the series was stopped not completely was alone because of the fact that Hearst was Herrimans largest fan. Hearst had given it a lifelong contract, and he knows again and again editors on to print the Strip.

1927 and 1935 Herriman two collections illustrated archy and mehitabel - poems of the Don Marquis admired by him. Its last Lebensjahre were overshadowed of health problems and personal tragedies. A Arthritis made a drawing increasingly heavy for it. 1934 had an accident his Mrs. Mabel with a car accident deadly; 1939 died its daughter Barbara at the age of 30 years. Herriman worked however up to its death, from only few illness-conditioned interruptions apart, far on its life's work Krazy Kat.

Starting from center 1935 the full-page Krazy Kat - stories for the Sundays supplements in color (before already once 1922 ten Krazy Kat - appeared sides were in the New York journal and other Hearst sheets in color published). That, and Hearst instructions, led to the fact that the series was printed again in a larger number of newspapers. The last consequence appeared to 25. June 1944, two months after Herrimans death. Hearst refrained from it, as usual with other series to let a new draughtsman Krazy Kat resume - which also with the graphic and erzählerischen stubborness of the series would have been hardly possible. In Herrimans death year still appeared Krazy Kat in 38 US-American newspapers.

As cause of death with Herriman non-alcohol-conditioned living ore erring trousers were diagnosed. On its desire its body was burned and ash over the Monument Valley was scattered.


of motives

Herrimans early Comics differed only little from successful series of the time such as The Yellow Kid or the cat misery Kids. However peculiarities soon already became apparent. In major Ozone for example the main figure is a Gesundheitsfanatiker, which would like to enjoy at any price freshest air - which leads regularly into the disaster. Such and always varied Obsessionen always repeated should become in the consequence a characteristic Herrimans - to get in such a way in the series of The Family Upstairs, in which the family tries thing-asked steadily as unsuccessfully, the tenants in the dwelling over the ihrigen to face. Obsessionen and rituals coined/shaped finally also Krazy Kat. Always the mouse Ignatz of the cat Krazy would like to throw a clay brick to the head; the policeman Offisa always tries pupates this to prevent; Krazy Ignatz always loves, and always loves Offisa pupate Krazy. This only to well-known frameworks leads to large Komik, since it always succeeded to Herriman despite the very clear constellation on the new to find surprising variants of the same ritualisierten operational sequence.

drawing technique and composition

graphic are considered to Herriman as one of the large masters of the Comics. Not only its alignment and its shadings are masterful. It implemented also, as one at that originals to see can, nearly without draft complicated compositions direct with india ink. With its invention wealth, which concerns the allocation of the panels, he was at its time a lonely pioneer. The picture successions or also the frameworks are broken through again and again. Pretty often the frameworks are given up completely also in favor of a very dynamic, times diagonal, times horizontal composition.


Herrimans telling clay/tone controls many registers, from high-more poetic over newspaper language up to the Slang, from numerous dialects, the broken English of different groups of immigrants up to different foreign languages (individual figures speak again and again Spanish, French or also German). All this is mixed by Herriman, contrasts and very impressively in scene is set. In addition still the completely own language of the main figure Krazy Kat, which misunderstands the English language always naively verballhornt, words and according to an ambiguous language mixture of itself gives, in that, similarly as in disorder in James Joyces Finn goose Wake, comes the meaning meanings multicolored purzeln.

Herriman admired effect many important Comiczeichner and called it substantial activators, among them Eisner, Charles M. wants. Schulz and Bill Watterson.

  • „One gives an empty background to the reader, and the reader will have the inclination to supplement the background from its own imaginative power or its own experience. I learned from one the Comics, which affected me at the beginning tremendously - Krazy Kat. If one regards Herrimans early works, then one recognizes that he had a tremendous instinct for such a thing. When I looked at myself as a child, I thought: ‚Hey, there knows one that he makes `. “Eisner in an interview with The Onion ( translated) does not want
  • to verschroben „Krazy Kat is, has characteristic and is received compromises. It is one of the few Comicstrips, which use the medium fully. It gives to be achieved things, which only a Comic can make, those in no other medium, not even in the Zeichentrickfilm, can, and Krazy Kat is quasi an essay over the nature of the Comics. “Bill Watterson: A Few Thoughts on Krazy Kat. In: The Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat, volume One: 1935-1936. London 1990, S. 8 (translated)

literary critics as for example Umberto Eco assume Krazy Kat affected also the modern literature and painting at the same time developed. But the expressionistischen and surrealistischen picture compositions as well as the numerous language assemblies could speak. For Gilbert Seldes was only already 1922 Krazy Kat that genuin American example of expressionistische art. How such influences ran in detail, is difficult to prove. As different artists have as E. E. Cummings, Jack Kerouac and Gertrude stone itself admiringly expressed over Krazy Kat. Usually such expressions are limited however to individual quotations (which because of the fact it could be that the Comic long time was little respected). Concrete investigations to the influence of Herrimans work on the modern literature and painting are missing so far.


original series

  • musical Mose, 1902
  • professor Otto, 1902
  • Arcobatic archie, 1902
  • Lariate Pete, 1903
  • Two Jolly Yak-gravel, 1903
  • major Ozone, 1904-1906
  • Home Sweet Home, 1904
  • Rosy' s mummy, 1906
  • Bud Smith, 1905-1906
  • Grandma' s Girl - Likewise Bud Smith, 1905-1906
  • Rosy Posy - mummy' s Girl, 1906
  • zoo zoo, 1906
  • Mr. Proones the plungers, 1907
  • The Amours OF Marie Anne Magee, 1907
  • baron Mooch, 1909
  • Daniel and Pansy, 1909
  • Mary' s Home from college, 1909
  • Alexander the Cat, 1909-1910
  • Gooseberry Sprig, 1909-1910
  • The thing-asked Family (occasional under the title The Family Upstairs), 1910-1916
  • Krazy Kat, 1913-1944
  • baron Bean, 1916-1919
  • Now lists Mabel, 1919
  • Stumble Inn, 1922-1926
  • US Husbands, 1926

English-language one expenditures

  • baron Bean 1916-1917. West haven (Conn.) 1977, ISBN 0-88355-640-5
  • The Family Upstairs: Introducing Krazy Kat 1910-1912. West haven (Conn.) 1977, ISBN 0-88355-642-1
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume One: 1916. Forestville 1988, ISBN 0-913035-48-3
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Two: 1917. Forestville 1989, ISBN 0-913035-75-0
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Three: 1918. Forestville 1989, ISBN 0-913035-77-7
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Four: 1919. Forestville 1989, ISBN 0-931035-93-7
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Five: 1920. Forestville 1990, ISBN 1-56060-024-1
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Six: 1921. Forestville 1990, ISBN 0-56060-34-9
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Seven: 1922. Forestville 1991, ISBN 1-56060-064-0
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Eight: 1922. Forestville 1991, ISBN 1-56060-066-7
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Komplete Kat Komics, volume Nine: 1922. Forestville 1992, ISBN 1-56060-103-5
  • The Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat, volume 1: 1935-1936. London 1990, ISBN 1-85286-334-X
  • The Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat, volume 2: 1936-1937. Amherst 1991, ISBN 0-924359-07-2
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Dailies 1918-1919. Charleston 2001, ISBN 0-9688676-0-X
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Complete fill PAGE Comic Strips 1925-1926. Seattle 2002, ISBN 1-56097-386-2
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Complete fill PAGE Comic Strips 1927-1928. Seattle 2002, ISBN 1-56097-507-5
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Complete fill PAGE Comic Strips 1929-1930. Seattle 2003, ISBN 1-56097-529-6
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Complete fill PAGE Comic Strips 1931-1932. Seattle 2004, ISBN 1-56097-594-6
  • Krazy & Ignatz - The Complete fill PAGE Comic Strips 1933-1934. Seattle 2004, ISBN 1-56097-620-9

Herriman as Illustrator

  • Don Marquis: archy and mehitabel. New York 1927
  • Don Marquis: The would run and of Time OF archy & mehitabel. New York 1935
  • Don Marquis: archy and mehitabel. New York 1990, ISBN 0-385-09478-7 (reproduction of the expenditure of 1927)

German-language ones expenditures

of attempts to bring Herrimans out Comics in German translation failed so far fast; the few published volumes are exclusively limited to the casting of Krazy Kat. The Melzer publishing house disappeared in the meantime tried 1974 in a 160-seitigen black-and-white volume to supply a small and apparently very arbitrary overview of Herrimans daily and Sonntagsstrips. That nevertheless contained volume however one already written introduction to Krazy Kat of E of 1946. E. Cummings. In the Carlsen publishing house published starting from 1991 translates two volumes of the English-language Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat - expenditure, which the colored Sundays sides of the classes 1935 to 1937 contain completely and chronologically; afterwards the edition was stopped. In the Viennese row „Comicothek “appeared of 1991 to the first three volumes of the Komplete Kat Komics, which, likewise completely and chronologically, contain the black-and-white Sundays sides of the years 1916 to 1918; 1996 were adjusted also this edition. Since that time no further Herriman Comics appeared on German more. Apart from the fact that the expenditure is comparatively large to manufacture such reproductions, the market for it however small, might lie the substantial reason for the failure of German-language edition projects in the fact that Herrimans very self-willed, allusion-rich and ambiguous language can hardly be translated satisfying - Harald Havas, the translator of the black-and-white Sundays sides, describes this descriptive in its notes in the appropriate „Comicothek “- to volumes. Lovers of Herrimans Comics fall back in the case of doubt to the English originals.

The following volumes appeared on German:


  • Patrick McDonnell, Karen O' Connell, Georgia Riley de Havenon: Krazy Kat. The Comic kind OF George Herriman. New York 1986, ISBN 0-8109-1211-2
  • Andreas's flat house: The first stone. George Herriman and „Krazy Kat “. In: Andreas's flat house: In the Comic unites. A history of the picture story. Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-8286-0064-6
  • Gilbert Seldes: The Seven Lively kind. New York 1924

Web on the left of

This article was taken up to the list of exzellenter articles.


  > German to English > (Machine translated into English)