One of the classic newspaper comics of the early 20th century, Krazy Kat was published in the New York Evening Journal from 1913 to 1944. It was written and drawn by George Herriman and exhibited surreal, American Southwest-themed artwork, often focusing on aesthetics over humor. This caused the strip to alienate much of its audience; it only remained in the newspaper as long as it did because it was a favorite of Journal publisher William Randolph Hearst.
The story revolves around the title character and his/her (gender is never set, and strips often switch between the two, sometimes in the middle of one comic) 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, crazy, takes this as a sign of love. In the meanwhile, Krazy Kat is actually loved by, of all things, a dog — Offissa 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 caught in the act.
While the comic never caught on with a mainstream audience, it remains an influence to cartoonists to this day; Bill Watterson of Calvin 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 vehicle, Sam's Strip in the 1960s.
Collections of Krazy Kat comics were notoriously difficult to find for many years, and the first few serious attempts at complete collections were scuttled by the publishers going under. Finally, in the 2000s and 2010s, Fantagraphiks managed to release a complete series of Sunday strip collections, Krazy & Ignatz.
There have been several animated adaptations of Krazy Kat made; none of them came very close 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 komik strip provided examples of:
- 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 acts like a dog, complete with Animal Jingoism toward Krazy's cousin Krazy Katfish.
- 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 color 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 cat 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 cat behavior and tries to eat Ignatz. And to top it all off, the "catfish" 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 "cousin" 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 cat. Eventually, Ignatz appeared and the two gradually became a comedy team until they got their own strip, free from the confinement of human ownership.
- Beautiful Dreamer: Any time Krazy catches Ignatz sleeping.
- Berserk Button: Bum Bill Bee does not like the construction of fake flowers that are indistinguishable from real ones, as Ignatz learns to his cost.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Spanish texts are everywhere and Spanish dialogue.
- In one strip involving Officer Pup and Krazy alternately popping up behind a wall, the poster on the wall is constantly 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: Occasionally, Ignatz's tossing of the brick is censored with a line like the following: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 crush on Krazy seems to spring from his constant need to defend the Kat.
- Boring, but Practical: One strip had Krazy telling Door Mouse how impractical it is carrying 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.
- Cant Unhear It: Make that "Kan't Unread It." Switching out the hard-C for the letter K in the strip is such a signature move that the editors of this very page did the same.
- Cat Concerto: Lampshaded in the narration of one strip, wherein the full moon irresistibly compels Krazy to sing, and he's pelted with a rolling-pin, a shoe, a clock, an iron and finally...no points for guessing.The moon is full to-night - as it has been many a night in the past, and we trust it will be many a night to come. Which may or may not interest you - However. With a back alley fence. And a "Kat" - it seems the world's greatest trio in harmonics be gathered together in fervent discord
- Cats Have Nine Lives: Occasionally referenced with regard to Krazy. In one cartoon, 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 course, Krazy buys their tales and their goods.
- Dating Catwoman: Krazy regards Ignatz as both an "enemy" and a lover, and sees no discrepancy between the two.
- Department of Redundancy Department: A frequent feature of the narration.
- 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 congratulate the parents. This partially accounts for the strip's lack of clear 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 creator 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.
- Distaff Counterpart: In the theatrical shorts from Columbia Pictures, Krazy had a Minnie Mouse-esque girlfriend named Kitty.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him:
- In the very last strip, Krazy drowns.
- This is a popular reading of that strip, but at his death, Herriman had more unfinished strips in progress in which Krazy is very much alive.
- Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Krazy has kissed Ignatz in his sleep several times. To which he has responded positively, despite being unaware of what happened.Ignatz: I dreamed an angel kissed me...
- Enemy Mine: A 1930 story ark (in a comic that has very few such things), one Kiskidee Kuku comes to Kokonino and begins to successfully woo Krazy. Ignatz, and Pupp become briefly brotherly in their mutual dislike of the interloper.
- Friendly Enemy: Ignatz and Krazy, to each other.Austridge: I will also 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 accent.
- Krazy's accent is meant to be the "yat" accent of New Orleans, an accent that Krazy's creator would have come into contact with and probably spoke. It sounds a lot like a Brooklyn accent, thanks largely to a very similar blend of ethnicities having settled in the area.
- Funny Background Event: Frequent. In fact, Ignatz and Krazy themselves started out as a funny background event; see "Breakout Kharakter" above.
- Fur Is Clothing: Lampshaded in one strip: Krazy claims to have a "netural sense of modesty", being "complitly clothed in a garmint of fur", and regards Ignatz as "nude" because he doesn't have fur himself.
- Furry Reminder: In this strip, Krazy arches her back, fluffs up her tail and hisses when she sees two coconuts and briefly mistakes them for enemies.
- Gender Bender:
- Krazy Kat. Needless to say, a raging inversion of Tertiary Sexual Kharakteristiks 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.
- Gold Digger: In one comic, 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 cat and bringing candy 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 anaconda.
- Even more shockingly, it gives Krazy self-confidence. 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 characteristics that he extended the storyline to last nearly a year, making it the longest story in the strip's history.
- Have a Gay Old Time: In this strip, Krazy refers to "making love" in the gloaming time (aka 'courting in the evening').
- High on Catnip: Due to prohibition, Krazy and his fellow cats have to eat "near catnip", 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" cartoon 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 care 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).
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Several strips concern the wealthy Mr. VanWagg-Taylor, who desperately wants an heir but whose intended children keep getting delivered to the Widow Pelona, already the mother of many, due to stork mishap. There's some fun innuendo in the way Mrs. VanWagg-Taylor reacts to seeing said widow with a child that clearly resembles her own husband.
- 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 a pair of suspects who turn out to be a hippopotamus and a rhinoceros."I dunt wunt no silva star upon my nobil chess—I dunt wunt no club, or cap, brass buttons is nothing but a pestFo-r-r-r-r - I'd ratha be a 'Kat' a-live,Instead of a "Kop" what ain't -"
- Love at First Punch:
- Ignatz's 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 can be tossed. Really makes you wonder...
- My Instincts Are Showing: One comic sees Krazy's cat reflexes being triggered, causing him to pursue Ignatz in more the way you'd expect.
- Name and Name: When this strip was first becoming distinct from The Family Upstairs, it was called Krazy Kat and Ignatz.
- No More for Me: Ignatz goes home and smashes his bottle of whiskey after apparently being confronted by three of Krazy Kat swimming in a lake (in fact Krazy and his cousins Krazy Katbird and Krazy Katfish).
- 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"."
- Pet the Dog: Ignatz has the occasional moment with Krazy, to which circumstances sometimes conspire to make his attempted kindness appear to Pupp to be another attempt to toss a brick.
- Police Are Useless: Sure, Officer Pupp always throws Ignatz in jail, but he rarely intercepts him before the damage is done. (Not that Krazy cares.)
- 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.
- Sudden Downer Ending: Some interpret the final strip as depicting Krazy drowning to death with both Officer Pupp and Ignatz crying over his still body.
- Suddenly Speaking: 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).
- Unwanted Rescue: The attempts of Officer Pupp and others to prevent Ignatz from throwing his brick at Krazy tend to leave Krazy despondent when they do succeed.
- 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."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, constantly making dates so they can carry out their usual brick shtick.
- We Want Our Jerk Back!: Krazy's reaction when circumstances contrive to stem the tide of Ignatz's brick-throwing, or otherwise make him a more traditional wooer.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Probably the Ur-Example. Notice our usage of the letter "K" throughout this page? The strip never used the letter "C" for anything. It's almost like a proto-Mortal Kombat in its dedication to this trope.
- Yellow Peril: Thoroughly subverted in a 1920 strip, where Ignatz thinks that the Mokk Dukk and another Chinese waterbird are supposedly colluding in some nefarious scheme, and he wants a piece of the action. Turns out it's just related to the Mokk Dukk's business, and Ignatz is disappointed.
The 1963 Animated Adaptation provides examples of:
- Born Lucky: Krazy, to a ridiculous 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 cars, thinks Krazy is trying to compete 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.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first three shorts, Krazy looked much closer to her comic strip counterpart. Ignatz had a different-sounding voice in the first two shorts.
- I Will Wait for You: At the end of "Network Nitwit", Krazy stands outside the prison, cooing, "Do not despair, my darling! I will wait for you foreva and a day!" When Ignatz complains, Krazy reveals that she's actually talking to the guy from the network who threw a brick at her earlier in the episode and has now been konfined to the opposite cell.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Ignatz, in a power-crazed 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 reaction and make a frantic dive to save her."I must have been insane!"
- Overly Narrow Superlative: The episode "Stoned Through the Ages" shows Ignatz's first ancestor collecting fig leaves in the Garden of Eden. When he declares himself to be the "richest mouse on earth", the serpent shows up and reminds him that he's the only mouse on Earth.
- Palette Swap: Many Krazy's relatives are recolors of her.
- 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."
- Weird Moon: The strip tends to show crescent moons. With a 3D-like representation.
- 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 cartoon 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 executive producer.)
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: Krazy's reaction to finding a cache of paper money:"Ooh, more pictures of presidents for my collection! ...Oh, phooey, Thomas Jeffason. I already got him!"