Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Under a beautifully elegiac cover designed by Chris Ware, Krazy and Ignatz, 1943-1944: “He Nods in Quiescent Siesta” presents the final full-colour, full-page Sunday Krazy Kat pages. This thirteenth volume contains all the Sunday newspaper strips from the last eighteen months of George Herriman’s masterpiece.
Series editor Bill Blackbeard introduces this volume by examining Herriman’s final Sunday page, drawn in April 1944. Jeet Heer and Michael Tisserand add some biographical details, including some recollections from Herriman’s grandaughter. There are lots of never-before-seen samples of his original art, hand-coloured and given as gifts to friends.
Herriman’s health was an issue for him during the last decade of his life, with a kidney operation and then non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver along with the arthritis that made drawing painful for him. The final few months of 1944’s pages aren’t as detailed as previously and even the dialogue becomes terser as producing artwork got more difficult, but he kept drawing. The last unfinished strips on his drawing board when he died are all reproduced in this volume. There are still plenty of great and funny strips in this last year that are the equal of anything he ever wrote, although the bricks had largely stopped flying.
It may have taken a very long time to happen, but with this volume, the entire 28-year run of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat Sunday pages has been collected, presented in the best possible way with excellently restored artwork, and sensitive, beautiful publication design. The many invaluable supporting essays, extra artwork, memorabilia and detailed research into the life of this brilliant cartoonist add up to a towering package which does justice to one of the greatest of all comic strips.
In 2009, Fantagraphics published Krazy & Ignatz: The Complete Sunday Strips 1935-1944. This compiled the last five Krazy & Ignatz softcover collections, Krazy & Ignatz 1935-1936, 1937-1938, 1939-1940, 1941-1942, and 1943-1944 bound into a single hardcover volume. Like the two other very short-run hardcover compilations, it was limited to 1000 copies and is now out of print.