Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand

While not as popular today as Peanuts, Garfield, or Calvin and Hobbes, the comic Krazy Kat paved the way for these and countless other strips enjoyed by millions, influencing the giants to come such as Bill Watterson and Charles Schulz.  While the strip itself is well know, the life of its creator, George Herriman, has long remained a mystery.  With this biography, author Michael Tisserand reveals much about the mysterious and complex comic genius Herriman.

Born a fair skinned boy to African-American parents in 1880 New Orleans, the family moved to California when Herriman was 10 to hid its racial identity.  Herriman would spend the rest of his life hiding his true heritage to pass as a white man.  The impact of this on Herriman’s life and art was immense.  This book takes readers through Herriman’s life — his upbringing in reconstruction era Louisiana and California to his big break in the wilds of New York City to his frequent trips to the Southwest.  With Herriman’s unique life experiences, Tisserand is able to tell not only his story, but also the story of early 20th century America’s race relations, the rise of newspapers, and a cross-continental society of LA and New York.  A great read for anyone interested in comics or this period in American history.

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