Tuesday, February 1, 2011

All House-painters aren’t Hitlers

All house-painters aren't Hitlers. George Herriman, who died in California the other day, was once a house painter, and a kindlier soul never lived. However, after falling off a ladder and spilling a bucket of paint over himself, he decided he’d rather be a cartoonist and deal with smaller quantities of coloring matter.

The vagaries of “Krazy Kat” and his associates, including “Offisa Pup,” “Ignatz Mouse,” “Mrs. Quakk Wack,” and other weird animals brought smiles and chuckles to millions. They were the creations of George Herriman’s imagination and artistic skill, now stifled forever.

A mild, slim man of Greek descent, the son of a baker, Herriman began his newspaper career as an office boy on the old Los Angeles Herald. The sketches he left on the editor’s desk went into the wastebasket, so young George rode the rods of a freight train to New York. There he was turned down by one newspaper after another, but finally the World took notice of him as a result of some grotesque billboards he designed for a Coney Island side-show.

Though eating more or less regularly as a member of the World staff, George Herriman devoted more than 25 years to “The Dingbat Family,” “Professor Otto and his Auto,” “Doc Archie and Bean,” and other only moderately successful comic strips before making a tremendous hit with “Krazy Kat.” Verily, as Henry Willard Austin once observed: “Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes, is oft but perseverance in disguise.” -- The Windsor (Ontario) Daily Star, 1 May 1944.


  1. "Doc Archie and Bean"?

  2. Michael, I checked the original -- yes, "Doc Archie and Bean" no commas.