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At the age of 17, Herriman began working as an illustrator and engraver for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, and over the next few years did many newspaper spot illustrations, observational and political cartoons, and produced several early comic strips, at times producing several daily strips at the same time. Herriman's early strips included Major Ozone, Musical Mose, Acrobatic Archie, Professor Otto and his Auto, Two Jolly Jackies and several others, most of which were only slightly above the average quality of newspaper strips of the time.
Perhaps the first indication of Herriman's unusual creativity and poetical sense of humor which would make him famous surfaced in 1909 with his strip Gooseberry Sprig. The following year Herriman began a domestic comedy strip called The Dingbat Family. The precursors to the characters of Krazy and Ignatz first appeared in a small, unrelated side comic that began on July 26, 1910, that ran below The Dingbat Family. The small comic appeared intermittently before becoming a regular feature of the strip: the main action happening with the human family taking up most of each panel, and an unrelated storyline involving a cat and mouse underneath the family's floorboards taking place in the bottom segment of each panel. This strip was then renamed The Family Upstairs. The cat and mouse strip was then spun off into another strip in 1913, originally Krazy Kat and Ignatz, and then simply Krazy Kat.
A Herriman political cartoon featuring California Governor James Gillett as a mule surrounded by prominent Southern Pacific Railroad lobbyists in 1906.
Herriman also continued drawing the domestic comedy strip, again named The Dingbat Family, until 1916. From 1916 through 1919 Herriman also drew the daily strip Baron Bean. Herriman would continue to draw other strips in addition to Krazy Kat through 1932.
Krazy Kat, however, was the strip which became Herriman's most famous. It reached its greatest level of popularity in the early 1920s, when it inspired merchandise, critical acclaim and even an interpretive ballet. Over the years it gradually lost readers, and many complained that "it made no sense." However, it had an enthusiastic (if relatively small) following among art-lovers, artists and intellectuals of the era, such as the critic Gilbert Seldes and the poet E. E. Cummings. Most important, it was championed by Herriman's publisher, William Randolph Hearst.
Herriman was also the illustrator for the first printed edition of Don Marquis' archy and mehitabel stories.
The 1930s were a period of tragedy for Herriman. On September 29, 1931, his wife Mabel died as the result of an automobile accident. In 1939, his daughter Bobbie died unexpectedly at age 30. He never remarried, choosing to live in Los Angeles with his cats and dogs.
Silk Screened with black ink.
White, Gildan, 100% cotton heavyweight tee, 5.2 oz
Printed in the USA