Michael Tisserand will talk about his epic and revelatory biography, Krazy:
George Herriman, a Life in Black and White. George Herriman was a cartoonist most famous for his comic strip Krazy Kat, which ran in newspapers across the country from 1913-1944. Herriman used his work to explore the human condition, creating a modernist fantasia inspired by the landscapes he discovered in his travels from chaotic urban life to the Beckett-like desert vistas of the Southwest. Yet underlying his own life and often emerging from the contours of his very public art was a very private secret: known as "the Greek" for his complexion and curly hair, Herriman was actually African American, born to a prominent Creole family that hid its racial identity in the dangerous days of Reconstruction.
Herriman's work has been a primary influence on cartoonists such as Will Eisner, Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Bill Watterson, and Chris Ware, who says: “For decades I’ve been hoping for a new, experimental African-American voice to emerge in the language of comics, but Michael Tisserand’s Krazy draws back the curtain on the one who’s been with us all along. A true archeological dig through the details of George Herriman’s Creole origins and the racial bigotry his family faced in Louisiana before reinventing themselves in California as white, Krazy reconnects the leads of the greatest comic strip ever to its tragic source, illuminating not only its poetic complexities, but also allowing it to burn as brightly as all of the great art of the twentieth century.”
Michael Tisserand is the author of The Kingdom of Zydeco, which won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for music writing, and the Hurricane Katrina memoir Sugarcane Academy. He lives in New Orleans.