Rare Autograph Letter SIGNED to Louise Swinnerton, 2pp on one 8vo sheet, penned on first and last pages, n.p.,n.p., with transmittal envelope, signed in return address, postmarked, Los Angeles, June 10, 1938.
Herriman refers to himself as "Ole Man Herriman," noting he, "is getting better - No! I did not do all that work while I was laid away - its [sic] old stuff they picked out of the morgue and used over again - my junk is so much the same - y'could use it backwards or forwards...nobody would know the difference - that's how come I fooled 'em for ten weeks - you should have known better - aint ya a news paper gal?...." He comments on not understanding why Louise gives, "a mug like me so much time - writing long letters...I'm just an excuse - so you can unload about those mesas and sunsets out in that ole pais pintado...a taste of that stuff - sinks you...shux I was more than 1/2 mad at the Doctors for holding me over...if your mind can stand it - try and imagine a kinky headed runt - and four scotty dogs raising hell in a pool of purple shadow..-.. Would that make the Navajos sing Coyote...." He signs, "Ole Man Herriman," and adds two post scripts initialed, "the first initialed "G. H." In his first PS he writes that this is the "longest letter" he'd ever written and in the second, he writes, "I hate initials," and signed with simply, "G."
After Herriman's wife died, he began a relationship with Louise Scher Swinnerton, formerly married to fellow cartoonist and friend Jimmy Swinnerton. Many of the letters between Herriman and Swinnerton were burned by Swinnerton's grandson according to Herriman's biographer. [contact us for source in bh item history] Herriman's reference to "Pais pintado" likely reflects his love for Monument Valley and the Enchanted Mesa in the southwestern U.S. In 1910, Herriman launched "The Dingbat Family," later renamed "The Family Upstairs," for The New York Evening Journal, a Hearst paper. An interesting side note is that Herriman is credited with creating the word, "dingbat." The strip featured the adventures of an ordinary family dealing with their annoying upstairs neighbors. Herriman was the first to use the word "dingbat" to indicate a silly, empty-headed person. [see "Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of 'Krazy Kat', Michael Tisserand, Harper-Collins, 2017 ] Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse began as space fillers for The Family Upstairs then expanded into their own comic strip. King Feature Syndicate owned by William Randolph Hearst supported Herriman's art throughout his career. Herriman's comics did not enjoy a mass following, but they were popular among an artistic and intellectual set according to his latest biography. At the time Herriman wrote this letter, Krazy Kat had dropped in popularity running in only 35 newspapers.