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Krazy & Ignatz 1939-1940: A Brick Stuffed with Moom-bins    by George Herriman order for
Krazy & Ignatz 1939-1940
by George Herriman
Order:  USA  Can
Fantagraphics, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Before there was Itchy and Scratch - even before there was Tom and Jerry - there was Krazy and Ignatz, an antagonistic duo who had readers laughing from one generation to the next. As the two battled back and forth, the strip often showed Ignatz the mouse hurling a brick at Krazy Kat with the expected detrimental effect. Creator George Herriman has been crowned a comic and comical genius for this comic strip that lasted for decades. Though he drew many other series, Krazy and Ignatz stands as Herriman's most popular and influential work.

Given his place among the pantheon of first generation comic artists, Herriman remains an often cited example of great work within the elite comic art community. So it's no surprise that Fantagraphics Books, a publisher of award-winning graphic novels, would republish his work in series of dated collections. This edition presents Herriman's weekly entries for circulation in the many Hearst newspapers throughout the United States between 1939 and 1940. These full page sequences were colored, and in this collection are clear and well preserved.

The collection contains two years worth of editions that both children and adults read each week. Individual shorts may be confusing or not particularly appealing at times, while others seem to personify the type of antagonistic humor found throughout modern cartoons, particularly the Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry variety, where the chase is always the main point to any story. Though Herriman's drawings may seem crude compared to today's slick animation and even more clearly defined strips (due largely to the influence of computers in drawing comics), he's renowned for his mastery of storytelling via panels and coloring.

Obviously, hardcore comic book fans and comic historians will revel in this comic strip collection. Between research and reflection, Herriman has a lot to offer these audiences. But even the lay reader should consider taking a look at the roots of modern comic strips and cartoon humor. They will find some very interesting things, not to mention an enjoyable collection of comic strips by an artist, who labored for over forty years in the comic strip business.

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