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Brian Walker on his new omnibus 'The Comics: The Complete Collection'

April 7, 2011 |  8:46 am

Krazykat The new book "The Comics: The Complete Collection" combines two earlier books by Brian Walker -- "The Comics Before 1945" and "The Comics Since 1945" -- and includes more than 1,300 images.

At Hero Complex, Geoff Boucher talks to Brian Walker about the new omnibus edition. When he asked him for a comic artist who we might not know, Walker's answer is George Herriman, creator of "Krazy Kat." Walker says:

The best example of an artist who was under-appreciated in his time was George Herriman, the creator of “Krazy Kat. Although intellectuals in the 1920s praised his work it was never popular with the general public and “Krazy Kat” only appeared in 35 newspapers when Herriman died in 1944. It has since become one of the most revered strips in comics history. There are many cartoonists represented in the book who were great talents in their time but are no longer household names. Among these I would include: “Tad” Dorgan, Cliff Sterrett, Billy DeBeck and Roy Crane.

Walker and Boucher's discussion -- and "The Comics: The Complete Collection" -- centers on the comics that appeared in newspapers. The perception of those comics, Walker says, went through a significant generational shift, by the time Gary Larson ("The Far Side"), Bill Watterson ("Calvin and Hobbes") and Berkeley Breathed ("Bloom County") decided to call it quits. Walker explains:

Larson, Watterson and Breathed all abandoned their successful creations during the same year — 1995 — so it’s hard to deny at least a casual connection. All spoke of burnout trying to meet the demands of producing daily features and refused to compromise the integrity of their work. The older generation of cartoonists thought of themselves as entertainers who were paid to sell newspapers. The generation that came of age in the 1980s described themselves more often as “artists” who were expressing a unique vision. This changing self-awareness might explain why these creators retired at the peaks of their careers.

Read the rest of Geoff Boucher's Q&A with Brian Walker about "The Comics: The Complete Collection."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: Krazy Kat recolored Sunday page by George Herriman. This feature began appearing as a color tabloid page in the Hearst papers on June 1, 1935.