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Comics and LanguageReimagining Critical Discourse on the Form$
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Hannah Miodrag

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781617038044

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617038044.001.0001

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Arbitrary Minimal Units in Krazy Kat

Arbitrary Minimal Units in Krazy Kat

(p.16) (p.17) Chapter One Arbitrary Minimal Units in Krazy Kat
Comics and Language

Hannah Miodrag

University Press of Mississippi

Krazy Kat is a comic strip that ran from 1913 to 1944 in the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst. Created by cartoonist George Herriman, it had a core plot that was repeated day after day: mouse throws brick at cat, then arrested by dog. Krazy Kat highlights the corresponding problem of emphasizing story information rather than the language-specific formal features of literary writing. This chapter examines Herriman’s use of language in the Krazy Kat cartoons and its literary effects through the lens of structural semiotics. It demonstrates how wrong critics are to dismiss language in comics. The chapter deliberately sidelines visual (and thematic) content in favor of linguistic content to illustrate how comics might truly be approached as literature and to argue for their literary potential. It also considers language’s minimal units and how Herriman plays with them, as well as his use of synonyms and his fondness for alliteration.

Keywords:   language in comics, Krazy Kat, George Herriman, cartoons, semiotics, literature, minimal units, alliteration

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