The Black & White World of George Herriman
In the tradition of SCHULZ AND PEANUTS, an epic and revelatory biography of Krazy Kat creator George Herriman, of the turbulent time and place from which he emerged—and of the deep secret he never spoke but which spoke through his art
The creator of the greatest comic strip in history finally gets his duein an eye-opening new life revealing the truth about his heritage and fascinating double life.
Born and raised in the ethnic maelstrom of nineteenth-century New Orleans, George Herriman, the creator of the seminal comic strip Krazy Kat came of age as an illustrator, journalist, and cartoon artist in the boom town of Los Angeles and the wild metropolis of New York. Rocketing to early fame in the newspapers of the early 20th centuryincluding the media empire of William Randolph HearstHerriman’s work was both hugely popular and widely acknowledged as the cartoon that elevated cartoons from daily diversions to an anarchic art form. Herriman’s work was a modernist fantasia, drawing on the landscapes he discovered in his travels (chaotic urban life, the Beckett-like desert landscapes of the Southwest) to explore the human condition. Yet underlying his whole lifeand often sneaking into the contours of his very public artwas a very private fact: known as the Greek for his swarthy complexion and curly hair, Herriman was in fact an African-American, born to a Creole family that had been prominent in antebellum New Orleans before hiding its racial identity in the threatening era after Reconstruction.
Drawing on deep original research into Herriman’s family history, on interviews with surviving friends and family, and on a deep reading of the artist’s work and surviving written records, New Orleans writer Michael Tisserand restores this little-understood figure to vivid life.