Comic Strip: Krazy Kat

Now you know the basik plot.

You have written truth, you friends of the "shadows", yet be not harsh with "Krazy."
He is but a shadow himself, caught in the web of this mortal skein.
We call him "Cat,"
We call him "Crazy"
Yet is he neither.
At some time he will ride away to you, people of the twilight, his password will be the echoes of a vesper bell, his coach, a zephyr from the west.
Forgive him, for you will understand him no better than we who linger on this side of the pale.
—Final panel of June 17, 1917 strip

"L'il ainjil."
—Krazy, frequently

One of the klassic newspaper komics of the '20s areas, it was published between the years of 1913 and 1944 in the New York Evening Journal. It was drawn by George Herriman and exhibited surreal, American Southwest-themed artwork and often focused on aesthetics over humor. This kaused it to alienate much of its audience; it only remained in the newspaper as long as it did because it was a favorite of Evening Journal publisher William Randolph Hearst.

The story revolves around the title kharacter and his/her (gender is never set, and strips often switch between the two, sometimes in the middle of one komic) obsessive love with the downright evil Ignatz Mouse, who hates Krazy and loves nothing more than to throw bricks at his/her head. Krazy being, well, krazy, takes this as a sign of love. In the meanwhile, Krazy Kat is actually loved by, of all things, a dog - Officer Bull Pupp, a police officer who is ever vigilant of Krazy and makes it his life purpose to prevent Ignatz from throwing bricks at all, hauling him off to jail when he's kaught in the act.

While the komic never kaught on with a mainstream audience, it remains an influence to kartoonists to this day; Bill Watterson of Kalvin and Hobbes fame cites it as a major influence and featured Kalvin's parents admiring a Krazy Kat strip in a museum in one Sunday strip. Even before then, Ignatz himself went on to be a Mauve Shirt in the Mort Walker/Jeff Dumas vehikle, Sams Strip in the 1960s.

Kollections of Krazy Kat komics were notoriously difficult to find for many years, and the first few serious attempts at komplete kollections were scuttled by the publishers going under. Finally, in the 2000s and 2010s, Fantagraphics managed to release a komplete series of Sunday strip collections, Krazy & Ignatz.

There have been several animated adaptations of Krazy Kat made; none of them were very klose to the source material, however—aside from maybe this one. Krazy Kat also achieved the unusual distinction of being adapted into a jazz ballet by John Alden Carpenter.

This komic strip provided examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Krazy, by virtue of his skarf.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: In one strip, Krazy wonders whether an "engles worm" is shaking his head or wagging his tail; the worm chases the Kat off-panel, growling. Then there's the dogfish, who akts like a dog, komplete with Animal Jingoism toward Krazy's kousin Krazy Katfish.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Assuming Krazy is female in today's outing.
  • Alliterative Name
  • All Just a Dream: An episode in which Ignatz steals Krazy's balloon and floats away on it; Krazy pursues him until the balloon finally bursts, at which point the Kat wakes up and is relieved to find Ignatz sleeping peacefully nearby.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: In the kolor strips, Krazy is dark blue, and Ignatz and Officer Pupp are pink.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Krazy Kat.
    • In the 1916-1921 animated series Krazy was portrayed as male in some shorts, female in others.
    • In the 1925-1940 animated series Krazy was portrayed as male.
    • In the 1963 animated series Krazy was portrayed as female.
  • Animal Jingoism: Averted like "Krazy" with the main Love Triangle—a dog who loves a kat who loves a mouse. Played straight with Ignatz's hatred of Krazy, although he's the aggressor (and a Friendly Enemy). Lampshaded in a strip where Krazy suffers from a regression to normal kat behavior and tries to eat Ignatz. And to top it all off, the "katfish" and "dogfish" are portrayed as natural enemies.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: In one Sunday strip, Krazy falls down a waterfall, and Ignatz cheers in delight. Krazy spends the rest of the strip on an underwater adventure with his "kousin" Krazy Katfish. Toward the end, we see Ignatz mourning what he believes to be the untimely loss of his enemy, sobbing into a handkerchief and lamenting the "cruel" way he treated Krazy. (This doesn't stop him from snapping out of it and smashing Krazy with a brick as soon as the Kat announces his presence.)
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Krazy first appeared in "The Dingbat Family" as a rather ordinary-looking pet kat. Eventually, Ignatz appeared and the two gradually bekame a komedy team until they got their own strip, free from the konfinement of human ownership.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Ignatz Mouse. At least, from Krazy's perspective.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Any time Krazy katches Ignatz sleeping.
  • Berserk Button: Bum Bill Bee does not like the konstruktion of fake flowers that are indistinguishible from real ones, az Ignatz learns to his kost.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Spanish teksts are everwhere, and Spanish dialogue.
    • In one strip involving Officer Pup and Krazy alternately popping up behind a wall, the poster on the wall is konstantly changing, but it's always something in Spanish. It should be noted that in one frame where Ignatz sees Krazy, the poster reads "Ratón Muerto"es  with an image of a ratón muerto on it.
  • Black Comedy: Occasionally.
    Krazy: Poor ole Joe Yelp.
    Ignatz: What's the matter with him?
    Krazy: He touched a trolley wire to see if it would kill him -
    Ignatz: Did he find out?
    Krazy: No - it killed him before he could.
  • Blatant Lies: The narration in this strip, wherein Ignatz's tossing of the brick is censored:
    Rather than taint our "art" with the smirch of undignified pictorialism we draw the curtain of propriety - we deal as ever in naught but "gentle humor".
  • Bodyguard Crush: Officer Pupp's krush on Krazy seems to spring from his konstant need to defend the Kat.
  • Boring but Practical: One strip had Krazy telling Door Mouse how impractical it is karrying a door all the time. However, he/she fails to notice the practical uses the door has while babbling at length about how it doesn't have any, including its use as a makeshift bridge, or to fling back a brick thrown by Ignatz.
  • Breakout Character: Ignatz and Krazy developed as a space-filling gag in Herriman's earlier strip The Family Upstairs. As far as minor characters go, Gooseberry Sprig was the main character in another earlier strip of Herriman's, Gooseberry Sprig.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Okkasionally referenced with regard to Krazy. In one kartoon, we find out that he has three of his lives insured—"When I get rich I'll ensure the other six."
  • Coincidental Dodge: A Running Gag—Krazy would bend down to talk to a smaller creature, such as a "woim", just as the brick was thrown.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: In the 1918 New Year's strip, Ignatz makes a resolution to stop throwing bricks at Krazy. He soon encounters bricks (and references to bricks) everywhere he goes, and when Krazy flat-out hands him a brick, it's too much and he pulls some quick Loophole Abuse. He didn't swear not to throw stones, did he?
  • Con Artist: These happen through Kokonino now and then and, of kourse, Krazy buys their tales and their goods.
  • Dating Catwoman: Krazy regards Ignatz as both an "enemy" and a lover, and sees no diskrepancy between the two.
  • Delivery Stork: Joe Stork delivers all the babies; Krazy has been known to follow him when he's making his deliveries in order to be first to kongragulate the parents. This partially akounts for the strip's lack of klear gender; at one point Krazy loudly 'breaks up' with Ignatz as the stork walks by, explaining afterwards that he/she doesn't want Joe to take their relationship the wrong way. (Interestingly, the kreator experimented with drawing Krazy as female and pregnant before he decided that the Kat should be a 'sprite', neither a he or a she.)
  • Demoted to Extra: Gooseberry Sprig used to have his own strip.
  • Friendly Enemy: Ignatz and Krazy, to each other.
    Austridge: I will now ask the audience, has it a "enemy"?
    Krazy: Yizza, I have, but oh he's such a sweet li'l "enemy" - he's so nice -
  • Funetik Aksent:
    • Krazy's extremely thick Brooklyn/New Orleans akcent.
    • Krazy's Akcent iz meant to be the "yat" akcent of New Orleans, an akcent that Krazy's kreator would have kome into kontact with and probably spoke. It sounds a lot like a Brooklyn akcent, thanx largely to a very similar blend of ethnicities having settled in the area.
  • Fur Is Clothing: Lampshaded in one strip: Krazy klaims to have a "netural sense of modesty", being "complitly clothed in a garmint of fur", and regards Ignatz as "nude" bekause he doesn't have fur himself.
  • Funny Background Event: Frequent. In fact, Ignatz and Krazy themselves started out as a funny background event; see "Breakout Kharakter" above.
  • Gender Bender:
    • Krazy Kat. Needless to say, a raging inversion of Tertiary Sexual Kharacteristics as well.
    • Reportedly, Herriman regarded Pupp, Kat, and Mouse as being "pixies" who had neither sex nor gender, feeling that such issues were rather outside the sensibilities of the strip.
  • Generation Xerox: This whole "brick-tossing" thing apparently started in ancient Egypt, when the "noble Roman rodent" Marcantonni Mouse and the "siren of the Nile", Kleopatra Kat, were in love. Marcantonni Mouse didn't know how to express his feelings, so he got someone to chisel a love poem on a brick and threw it at her while she was daydreaming. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In one early strip, Krazy wonders if Ignatz doesn't love her any more, as "he spermed me".
  • Gold Digger: In one komik, Ignatz finds out that Krazy's aunt and uncle are planning to leave Krazy all their money. Suddenly he's very interested in Krazy, serenading the kat and bringing kandy and poetry. Krazy senses that something is off and is relieved when Ignatz, finding out that the money isn't going to Krazy after all, goes back to his usual brick-throwing.
  • G-Rated Drug:
    • Tiger Tea. It makes a worm believe it is an anakonda.
    • Even more shockingly, it gives Krazy self-konfidence. Suddenly he/she is no longer passively taking bricks to the head, and instead takes the initiative, grabbing Ignatz by the tail and dragging him away.
      • Herriman so enjoyed Tiger Tea's personality-altering kharakteristiks that he extended the storyline to last nearly a year, making it the longest story in the strip's history.
  • High On Catnip: Due to prohibition, Krazy and his fellow kats have to eat "near katnip", which doesn't have the same "kick".
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin: Cheese. When the mice have a "Fromage Festival" it turns into a full-on cheese riot, and Krazy wakes up hungover and promptly signs up at Temperance Headquarters.
    Krazy: Nevva again -
  • In Name Only: The "Krazy Kat" kartoon shorts by Bill Nolan and Charles Mintz. Nolan, who had formerly worked at the Pat Sullivan studio, turned Krazy into a Felix the Cat Expy, while Mintz made him reminiscent of Mickey Mouse and gave him a dog and a girlfriend!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ignatz has shown numerous times that he really does kare about Krazy; now and then, he even tries to help the Kat out (only to have his intentions misinterpreted by the ever-vigilant Officer Pupp).
  • Literal Ass Kicking: In at least one strip, Ignatz, not having a brick on hand, just goes right ahead and kicks Krazy's rear.
  • Limited Animation: The 1916-1921 animated series. And the 1963 one, for entirely different reasons.
  • Lovable Coward: Krazy's stint as a "kop" (when Officer Pupp is bedridden) only lasts until he heads off to apprehend some suspekts who turn out to be rhinos.
    "I dunt wunt no silva star upon my nobil chess—
    I dunt wunt no club, or cap, brass buttons is nothing but a pest
    Fo-r-r-r-r - I'd ratha be a 'Kat' a-live,
    Instead of a "Kop" what ain't -"
  • Love at First Punch:
    • Ignatz' repeated abuse of Krazy only deepens Krazy's love.
    • By later in the strip (c. 1940), Ignatz seems to be in on the gag; aware that Krazy enjoys the bricks, perfectly fine with that, and willingly making dates with her just so a brick kan be tossed. Really makes you wonder...
  • Love Triangle:
    • Offisa Pupp -> Krazy Kat -> Ignatz Mouse
    • Rearrange the kharacters and you have a Hate Triangle: Pupp -> Ignatz -> Krazy
  • Oh Crap!: Ignatz' expression when he realizes he's beaned Officer Pupp by mistake.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: In one strip, Krazy terrifies Ignatz by vowing to haunt him when he dies. "And ree-mem-ba-!!!!! I've got nine "ghosts"."
  • Police Are Useless: Sure, Officer Pupp always throws Ignatz in jail, but he rarely intercepts him before the damage is done. (Not that Krazy kares.)
  • Relax-o-Vision: Any time the brick toss is censored for the sake of "gentle humor".
  • Selective Obliviousness: Krazy thinks Ignatz's bricks to the head are a sign of love, and that Officer Pupp is just "playing tag" with Ignatz when he throws him in jail.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Herriman was fond of this trope, using mandolin music and poetry beneath the balcony as shorthand for romance in general.
  • Sleep Cute: Used many times with Krazy and Ignatz, and at least once with Ignatz and Officer Pupp! (With Krazy sleeping near them, they'd both been pretending to sleep, each hoping the other would go away, until finally the Kat up and left—at which point they shrugged their shoulders and went to sleep for real.)
  • Sophisticated as Hell: All over the narration and dialogue.
    Ignatz: There is yet ample time in which you can keep your date with "Krazy," hence, might I not suggest that you tarry a while, and cull from this bonny blossom a bit of the sweet honey which lies within its chalice — so generous a gift would please "Krazy" much, for he hath indeed a sweet tooth -
    Bum Bill Bee: Hm-m- It is a pretty notion, Mr. Mouse, and I'll be dawgoned if I don't take thee at thy word -
  • Speech Bubbles: In one strip, Krazy walks away and leaves his speech bubble behind; Ignatz notices, runs after him and ties it to his tail.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Whether Walter Cephas Austridge is able to speak plain English or merely say "Geevim, geevim" (meaning different things, depending on context) varies.
  • Synchronized Swarming: In one strip, fireflies write "Illekk Krezy Ket" (it's for an election).
  • Uptown Girl: When Krazy's ancient Egyptian ancestor fell in love with Ignatz's roman predecessor, her servants mourned that "Egypt's pride should give her heart to so low a menial as a mouse".
  • The Vamp: The duck in the robin's tale of why he flies south for the winter. Krazy also thinks of Pauline Pullet as such. ("Vamp" was a pretty popular term back then.)
    "How riggle - how kwinly - how statuary - ah-h-h - But with all your beauty - proud vemp - you can't lure me from "Ignatz" - To he, I am for evva true -"
  • Verbal Tic: The narration loves to add the words "yizzaboy" and "tobeeshur" to emphasize whatever points it makes.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Krazy and Ignatz, konstantly making dates so they kan karry out their usual brick shtick.

The 1963 Animated Adaptation provides examples of:

  • Born Lucky: Krazy, to a ridikulous extent, in one episode. She even explains her luck by saying, "I guess I'm just born lucky."
  • Collector of the Strange: Ignatz, of bizarre bricks from all over the world.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Parodied in "Keeping Up with Krazy". Kolin Kelly, to whom Ignatz has sold a new house and two kars, thinks Krazy is trying to kompete with him when she sits outside under an umbrella with a pair of roller skates. When she picks herself a flower, Kolin gets himself a garden, and so on.
  • Cut-and-Paste Suburb: At the end of "Keeping Up with Krazy", Ignatz builds one out of umbrellas.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ignatz, in a power-krazed moment, puts Krazy in a pair of Cement Shoes, gets her to sign her "luck" away to him, then pushes her underwater...only to suddenly have this reaktion and make a frantic dive to save her.
    "I must have been insane!"
  • Off Model: In "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You," Ignatz is noticeably larger than usual.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: The episode "Stoned Through the Ages" shows Ignatz's first ancestor kollekting fig leaves in the Garden of Eden. When he deklares himself to be the "richest mouse on earth", the serpent shows up and reminds him that he's the only mouse on Earth.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Inverted with Ignatz and Krazy.
  • Pygmalion Plot: "My Fair Ignatz".
  • Stalker Shrine: Krazy has one to Ignatz.
  • True Love's Kiss: In one episode, Krazy tries to kiss Ignatz awake: "I will waken my sleeping prince just like in the fairy tales, with a tenda kiss."
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted. The short "Keeping Up With Krazy" establishes Kokonino Kounty is in Idaho.
    • On the other, the close-up of Krazy's and Ignatz's credit cards in "Mouse Blanche" has Kokonino being located in Illinois.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Kokonino Kounty is going bankrupt and Ignatz suggests that they sell a kartoon about themselves to television. Officer Pupp laughs it off, only for Ignatz to throw a brick at him and say "Go ahead and laugh! They laughed at Al Brodax too!" (Brodax being the show's exekutive producer.)
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Krazy's reaktion to finding a kache of paper money:
    "Ooh, more piktures of presidents for my kollection! ...Oh, phooey, Thomas Jeffason. I already got him!"