Born in 1880 in New Orleans, Herriman was the son of Creole African-Americans who were identified as mulatto on the 1880 Census.
He grew up in Los Angeles and started working as an illustrator for a newspaper by age 17. Herriman drew several comic strips (Gooseberry Sprig, The Dingbat Family, Baron Bean) before creating his super popular series Krazy Kat.
Krazy Kat featured a complicated love-hate triangle between Ignatz, a mouse; Krazy, a "kat"; and Offissa, a dog/cop.
President Woodrow Wilson and writers T.S. Eliot and Gertrude Stein and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst were among Herriman's fans. In the classic text The 7 Lively Arts, Herriman was mentioned as the "greatest comic artist of all time." In 1922, the strip was adapted to a Broadway stage show. Although the 1920s was the height of the strip's popularity, the strip ran continuously in Hearst papers from 1913 to 1944.
Herriman's ethnic identity was shrouded in mystery during his lifetime--he never publicly stated his racial or cultural background. On his death certificate, he is listed as "Caucasian." But his work has been interpreted as a statement on the complexities of shifting identities.
Herriman died in 1944 in his sleep.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by writer Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year's profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.