Comic strip collectors will remember Alexander Braun and Taschen’s earlier complete, XXL-sized Little Nemo collection that delighted Winsor McCay fans and caused hernias everywhere. Braun is at it again. This beautiful but massive reprint captures the color Sundays from the last decade of Herriman’s life and career. Krazy Kat is the longtime darling of highbrow critics since the early 1920s, when Gilbert Seldes dubbed the strip one of the most satisfying works of art in the modern age. Since then critics gush over the gender-bending, mythologizing, philosophizing and satirizing “genius” of the strip. In recent decades scholars added a new dimension to reading Krazy as we discovered Herriman had been “passing” as white throughout his life. Herriman seems to have been the designated modernist Joyce of the medium’s history. And Braun does his part to further burnish Herriman’s stature in his very comprehensive and lengthy prose accompaniment. Reprinting Krazy at this scale also lets us lean back and appreciate Herriman’s mastery of movement, slapstick timing (He was a Mack Sennett fan), layout and use of the full page as a canvas.
While on the subject of Kracy Kat, it is worth mentioning also that Fantagraphics Press just initiated yet another series it calls The George Herriman Library: Krazy & Ignatz, 1916-918. This edition of Herriman’s full page Krazys cover the same ground as an earlier softcover reprint from Fantagraphics. But this time we get hardcovers, with two years in each volume, and best of all larger, at 11.3″ x 13.8″.