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Krazy Kat, by George Herriman
The best comic strip ever!
The strip focuses on the curious love triangle between its title character, a guileless, carefree, simple-minded cat of indeterminate gender (referred to as both “he” and “she”); the obsessive antagonist Ignatz Mouse; and the protective police dog, Offissa Bull Pupp. Krazy nurses an unrequited love for the mouse. However, Ignatz despises Krazy and constantly schemes to throw bricks at Krazy’s head, which Krazy misinterprets as a sign of affection, uttering grateful replies such as “Li’l dollink, allus f’etful”. Offissa Pupp, as Coconino County’s administrator of law and order, makes it his unwavering mission to interfere with Ignatz’s brick-tossing plans and lock the mouse in the county jail.
Despite the slapstick simplicity of the general premise, it was the detailed characterization, combined with Herriman’s visual and verbal creativity, that made Krazy Kat one of the first comics to be widely praised by intellectuals and treated as “serious” art. Art critic Gilbert Seldes wrote a lengthy panegyric to the strip in 1924, calling it “the most amusing and fantastic and satisfactory work of art produced in America today.” Poet E. E. Cummings, another Herriman admirer, wrote the introduction to the first collection of the strip in book form. Though only a modest success during its initial run, in more recent years, many modern cartoonists have cited Krazy Kat as a major influence.