Krazy + Ignatz in Tiger Tea by George Herriman

Krazy + Ignatz in Tiger Tea
by George Herriman
edited by Craig Yoe
IDW Publishing, 2010

A well-intentioned but ultimately frustrating anomaly in the world of Krazy Kat reprints. This exceptional comic strip (a favourite of everyone from Frank Capra to ee cummings) ran from 1913 to 1944. Fantagraphics have been reprinting the strips since 2002, but only 19 years of the Sunday strips and seven years of the daily strips are in print. This small volume reprints nearly a years’ worth of the daily strips from May 1936 to March 1937, concerning a storyline where Krazy Kat acquires a large bag of Tiger Tea, which has an amphetamine-like effect on the inhabitants of Coconino County.

The strips are reprinted one-per-page, which allows the detail of this scratchy but unique comic to shine through, and although reproduced from different sources, there’s only a few episodes which look a bit third-generation, which is incredible when you consider we’re talking about a comic strip printed on cheap newsprint 74 years ago which was never widely popular amongst readers.

Inexplicably, although the strips have been printed on high-quality paper, the paper is patterned to look like beige recycled stock. Numerous flecks of pulp muddy Herriman’s clear drawings. It’s like going to the trouble of digitally restoring a silent film so it looks brand new, and then putting it through a filter which gives it “old-timey” scratches. The excellent overview by editor Yoe, who obviously knows his stuff, is also let down by a perfunctory introduction by satirist Paul Krassner.

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