Krazy Kat's most surreal adventures were the famed "Tiger Tea" sequence where Krazy Kat imbibed of the psychedelia-inducing substance. This is George Herriman at his best in the only full-length Krazy Kat adventure story of his career presented in the same era as Terry and the Pirates and Captain Easy. Krazy & Ignatz: Tiger Tea is printed on hemp paper and showcases a rare photo of Herriman sporting a Mexican sombrero and smoking a funny-looking cigarette. A special bookmark in the shape of a tea label and string will make the readers high with happiness.
The creator of the zenith of comic strip art Krazy Kat, George Joseph Herriman, was born on August 22, 1880, in New Orleans. When he was still a teenager, George and his family moved to Los Angeles, as many African-American Creole families did, to escape the restrictions of the Jim Crow laws. Herriman never publicly acknowledged his ethnicity, probably fearful of its effects on his reputation. Herriman's death certificate lists him as Caucasian. Between 1901 and 1910, Herriman produced his first, regular strip, Musical Mose, as well as other features like Acrobatic Archie, Professor Otto and His Auto, Major Ozone's Fresh Air Crusade, Mary's Home from College, and Gooseberry Sprig, for the Pulitzer papers and the prestigious T.C. McClure Syndicate. In 1910, the artist inaugurated The Dingbat Family, later renamed The Family Upstairs, for The New York Evening Journal, a Hearst paper. The strip featured the adventures of an ordinary family dealing with their annoying upstairs neighbors. In The Family Upstairs the artist used the bottom part of each panel to narrate the stories of the Dingbats' pet, Krazy Kat, and a mouse named Ignatz, whose adventures were unrelated to those of the Dingbats. On July 29, 1910, Ignatz Mouse threw an object at Krazy Kat's head for the first time. and bonking Krazy's brain with a brick, with all its attendant meanings, became the strip's main motif. In 1913, Krazy Kat and Ignatz finally had a strip on their own, while The Family Upstairs folded in 1916. It was at this time that Herriman began another strip, Baron Bean, which ran until 1919. Herriman's creative use of language narrates the whimsical adventures of three main characters, Krazy, Ignatz, and Offissa Pupp. The unfortunate feline is in love with Ignatz, who does not reciprocate his feelings (or her? Krazy's gender was never clearly established) and likes to hurl bricks at the cat's head. This violent treatment only seems to throw Krazy more deeply in love. The strip's subtleties and surrealism never made it very popular with the public en masse, but it had an enthusiastic following among artistic and intellectual circles. Writer Gilbert Seldes dubbed Herriman "the counterpart of Chaplin in the comic film" in his Seven Lively Arts, in 1924. President Woodrow Wilson never missed reading it, and Picasso was reputedly a fan. But the artist's most ardent supporter was William Randolph Hearst. Hearst owned the King Feature Syndicate and refused to drop Herriman's Krazy Kat even when it was carried by fewer than 50 papers. It was Hearst who ordered the strip to be cancelled in 1944, upon learning of Herriman's passing. In his opinion, no one could replace the artist and Krazy Kat was possibly the first strip to die with his creator.