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The Kat Who Walked In Beauty
posted August 31, 2007
George Herriman; Derya Ataker, Jacob Covey
Fantagraphics, hard cover, 200 pages, August 2007, $29.95
I believe that just about everything concerning personal expression in comics can be traced back to impulses that parade through George Herriman's Krazy Kat
, and this freakishly beautiful and surprisingly modest art object from editor Derya Ataker and designer Jacob Covey puts that notion into full display. A suite of episodes chiseled from Herriman's great work whose highlight is a 1920 sequence featuring a group of famous "panoramic dailies," The Kat Who Walked in Beauty
may be the best book I've ever seen in helping explain the feature's many virtues. The earliest strips reprinted spotlight Herriman's formal playfulness and genre tweaking, a group of restored sequences run in vertical fashion put on display the cartoonist's ability to string together sustained moments of whimsy, the beautiful and jaw dropping sequences will give the reader a sense of visual poetry and staging, while a final group of cartoons linked to a popular stage show allow the strip's gentle power to be reflected back onto newsprint in a way that seemingly enhances their essential loveliness and vibrancy. That breakdown may sound oddly brusque, and perhaps sort of ridiculous, but I have a hard time speaking about Krazy Kat. I find its virtues rather self-evident, and I'm just beginning to be able to take in the entirety of what made it great. It feels like its own desert setting that way, a strip that almost too hard to drink in with eyes fully open.