A Comic’s Secret Southern Story

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-17 20:20Z by Steven

A Comic’s Secret Southern Story

Below The Line
Garden & Gun

CJ Lotz

A panel from “Krazy Kat.” Courtesy Krazy

Before “The Far Side,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” or even Mickey Mouse, one cartoon stole the show. From 1913 to 1944, a panel called “Krazy Kat” ran in newspapers across the country and counted “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz and the poet E.E. Cummings among its fans. The strip featured beautiful backgrounds and simply sketched cat and mouse characters that switched between philosophical dialog and slapstick situations—the mouse was forever trying to hit the cat with a brick. But the New Orleans-born artist behind the drawings, George Herriman, was a private man whose life was a mystery. That is until now, with the release of the illustrator’s biography, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White.

Author Michael Tisserand (also a New Orleanian) spent ten years researching this thorough work that chronicles not only the career of the twentieth century Southern artist, but Herriman’s big secret: He was born to a prominent Creole family in New Orleans and spent his adult years “passing” for white at the newspapers where he worked in New York and Los Angeles. At the time, living as a black man would have threatened his livelihood, his home, and his relationships. We spoke with Tisserand about Herriman’s complicated story and what it means to honor the artist’s legacy today…

Read the entire interview here.

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