Critical Analysis of Krazy Kat by Jey Cantor
KRAZY KAT returns to Coconino County and its residents to explain why the strip vanished at the end of World War II. Krazy Kat, the innocent, is suffering brain-dulling depression after witnessing the end product of the “New Clear fizzyits.” Cynical Ignatz Mouse, whose bricks tossed at Krazy’s noggin serve only to endear Kat to Mouse, yearns for the big time–the success enjoyed by those other famous cartoon cats. If Ignatz cannot shame Krazy into working again, he will invent psychoanalysis to create in Krazy a sick soul, the very stuff of high art. This Round, sick soul will crave to be hit again by Ignatz’s bricks.
With the arrival of the Producer, it appears that Krazy’s comeback is imminent. Offices Pup, ever protective of his beloved Kat, Joe Stork, Kwakk Wakk the duck-gossip, all will play a part in the post-Bomb world-picture, where it is all right to feel guilty, where the distinction between pleasure and pain has been blurred (so bricks feel like valentines)–until it is discovered that the characters do not own the rights to themselves, so no deal is possible. Krazy becomes hostage to Ignatz and the others, who demand their rights from Hearst, but are tricked by the Producer into such outlandish behavior that they become public figures–exploited, forsaken, broke, and very angry.
Fantasy is next from Ignatz. Krazy and her doll in Mouse become Kate and Dr. Ignatz, whose encounters are blushingly sexual. It is in art, not sex, however, that singer Kate and accompanist Ignatz achieve a kind of fusion, a reconciliation of the overtly sexual and the enduringly innocent, of Roundness and Flatness. Jay Cantor’s KRAZY KAT is full of wit and candor, but a blue streak runs through the latter half of the novel that makes Coconino-ites sound too disturbingly human: In the world of the Bomb, it is enough to give anyone atomic ache.
Krazy Kat adores Ignatz Mouse. She sees the bricks he hurls at her head as tokens of love, and each day Ignatz arranges a cunningly different method of delivery for his missile. But when Ignatz and Krazy witness the mega-brick explosion in the desert, Krazy becomes depressed, and refuses to perform. To coax her back to work so they can regain their lost limelight, Ignatz invents his own brand of psychotherapy, orchestrates her kidnapping, and tries to seduce Krazy with promises of stardom from a Hollywood producer. As the mouse confronts the Kat with bewildering new concepts like sex, death, and politics, Ignatz and Krazy begin yearning to become round, for a fullness of body and spirit beyond their two-dimensional realm.
Forming an altogether witty and winning counterpoint to George Herriman’s classic comic strip, Jay Cantor’s kinetic novel has become a classic in its own right, one of those masterpieces that create its own unforgettable universe.
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