Fantagraphics delivers again. The greatest comic ever published is getting its due thanks to this series (taken over from the now defunct Eclipse series). Once again the book is crammed with great Krazy Kat full page strips (keeping in step with the series previous three volumes). Comics were at one time far more complex, as a simple head poke into this book will reveal. These aren't your average four panel "I hate Mondays" gag strips. These involve reading, not glancing. Herriman was a master at his trade, and dialects, puns, non-sequiturs, nonsense, changing backgrounds, slapstick, and poignancy pervade every page. There's nothing like this on the incredibly shrinking comics page of today.
If you've never read Krazy Kat, here's some background: Krazy is a Kat (yes, with a "K", that's very important); Ignatz is a mouse; Offica Pupp is a dog (who also happens to be a cop). These three folks live in Cocino County, where Ignatz fulfills his greatest desire of flinging bricks at Krazy Kat's head. It's not so simple as "BANG!! HAHAHA!" Krazy LOVES Ignatz (pines for him) and since Ignatz only showers attention on Krazy in the form of a brick, Krazy has come to interpret this as an act of love. If you see a little heart rising from Krazy's head after Ignatz "beans" Krazy's head, this is why. Three is of course more fun, and Offica Pupp makes the triangle complete. Offisa Pupp has something for Krazy (though it's not as obvious as the other trist). Consequently, Offisa Pupp detests Ignatz for throwing bricks at Krazy. Ignatz is often seen being dragged off to jail protesting his innocence while Krazy rhapsodizes about his "'lil dahlink!" If this doesn't sound like good reading to you, then you obviously haven't read the strip. Give it at least a few chances; it takes some time to sink in. It's easier to experience than to explain. You can't read this strip vicariously.
This installment has an amazing bonus - a boatload of Krazy Kat daily strips from 1931. Previous volumes have included interesting miscellany from the past (pictures of an Ignatz figure, or piano music for the "Krazy Kat" rag), but this is almost too much to ask for. Krazy Kat dailies are harder to find in print than the Sunday pages (will Fantagraphics take on the daily strips when they're through with the Sundays?), so this is a welcome bonus. And the book is HUGE! The strips are very readable, and the dailies are VERY readable. Also included is an article about George Herriman's early cartoon career, along with some of his earliest strips from 1909-1910 (Baron Mooch and Gooseberry Sprig). There are some fascinating facts here: Charles Dickens considered art to be an integral part of his novels (wouldn't know that today!), and Cocino County was actually created for an early strip of Herriman's, not for Krazy Kat.
May Fantagraphics march on and chronicle all that there is to chronicle of Krazy Kat. Fans of "both high art and low culture" (taken from a review on the back of the book) appreciate it to an infinity squared degree.