Michael Chaney



Weird animals in the middle of nowhere grow new hooves for loving one another. Just ask George Herriman, Krazy Kat creator, who just can't keep it under his hat. They say he wore one every passing day of his working life—even at the drafting table. Underneath was evidence of mixed race. Krazy Kink. Look into it. Wonder while you're at it why President Warren G. Harding never denied the gymnastics of an ancestor and somebody's “fence” a long rhetorical time ago. If only you read enough 19th-century literature and knew the codes: hints of brown in the irises, crescents of cloud at the cuticle under the nail; or, any adjutants whatsoever to stand guard over remarks upon anyone's complexion. Were you armed with time-machine knowledge, you might creep up on George Herriman one day while drawing Krazy Kat and tip the spring ever so gently on the band of his hat so that the hidden latch would SNAP. Then the spring would do that BOING sound effect and a sign would pop up. The childish scrawl on it reads: CREOLE!—the R backwards. The sign bobs all oboes and pinwhistles. It goes for four bars and right when you think it's over, another wooden arm unspools from the hat. Emerging from it, two unschooled hammerhead sharks whack George good in the eyeballs. How they bulge where it happens: stepped-on balloons. Poor George. He should have bought himself a nicer hat. That one still had the tag on it and hammerheads inside. But he wouldn't take it to heart. He's the one who taught us the power of the thrown brick—that forgotten aphrodisiac. In Krazy Kat's world, nothing says 'I love you' like a brick in the face. Just ask Coconino County's resident guerrilla fighter, Ignatz the mouse, who ends every strip in the same way by throwing a brick at his beloved Krazy Kat, who is herself (or himself—the gender of Krazy Kat made vague by animetaphor) in love with her 'natural' enemy the dog, Offissa Pup. What power reversals these are to consider. Notice how they upset purportedly normative boundaries of the social order.... * Attention readers. Attention readers. * We interrupt this broadcast to create a hole in the store for the professor to fall through, which is promptly done to a tweed crescendo of smoke, followed by an explosion and a few snapping loops of crocodiles circling in the sky to bongos until falling, falling, and then more falling next to an anvil and then, yes of course, falling under the anvil. Isn't this the perfect moment for a final wave and a wan smile? A wave of the white glove, inherited from the vaudeville minstrel, white men corked up dark, and magicians and butlers, conductors, viscounts, and coroners. That white-gloved wave is a sartorial direct address of witness. It comes at the brink of an infinite that never comes. Death never happens right in the cartooniverse. But I know all that! objects George Herriman. Just look at my Krazy Kat. If there's going to be a hole in this, Red Rover, then why not let old George get over? Because I paid my dues,” said the cartoonist off to say or do or be other things this voice no longer cares about. This voice is a pencil the size of a bayou canoe. It is clenched in a big white hand (never gloved) and together they menace talking animals (always gloved) with their thanatos-poiesis act. Turned one way, the pencil mothers worlds. Turned another, it's the pink ass of entropy and it wipes away all creation. You wonder if that white hand rubbed hard enough, could it abrade the cartoonal right down to its rabbit hole? George Herriman does not wonder. He would like us to remind you once again to consider his Krazy Kat. Not the published strips they let you see, he wants us to emphasize, but the arcane teachings. The Krazy predictions and the Kat gleanings in 15 full leaf readings of 101 Krazy Kat prayers for nonbelievers and something else the Ouija board spelled funny (thick thumbs on a small screen) of six manuals full of many positions illustrated with drawings of erotic animal hybrids, articulate and pudgy, many still sporting those white puffy gloves—where appropriate, that is, some have hooves after all, which made the gloves look foolish on them. Picture someone walking around a mall or a bank in scuba fins. Really, you should have seen it. All those fools shoved into water beside the mall or bank. One popped back up in his scuba outfit, striding boldly down the pier in wet flippers, but toting an angry goldfish in his mask, gurgling goldfish increpations sounding like rewind. When scuba guy opened the mask to let it out, the fish backflipped onto his lip, before marching off pissed as hell, each step of its fintips on the pier a tympani drum. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM <jump into a swan dive> SHWEEEEE... PLOP... water spout—Sheesh, says scuba guy and then from behind the mask two hammerhead sharks. Unfortunately, scuba guys' eyeballs are nailheads to the species. Poor scuba guy. He should have bought himself a nicer mask...Fade to black orchestral. Iris shot opening. Coda. Is it a flying saucer? No. It's George Herriman's hat. Call me, Joe, says the hat. I was sold in New Orleans in a saloon in 1903. I'm from good straw, shucked in the quarter. It was me sitting on his head watching that time he sketched it. Krazy Kat driving a car, late model. Ignatz riding shotgun, brick in hand. Latenight Coconino outskirts. Ink and stars, until Offissa Pup on a motorcycle lights 'em up. One panel shows all three of Pup's white-gloved fingers grip that un-holstered revolver before it happens.