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November 1916 Krazy Kat costume advertisement

In the annals of comic history, certain artifacts stand as testaments to the enduring charm and cultural penetration of what some might dismiss as mere children’s fare. Yet, to the discerning eye, these are historical documents, rich with the patina of the time and its sentiments. Such is the case with the Krazy Kat plaything advertisement from November 1916, an artifact that captures the intersection of commercialism and the Golden Age of comics.

Krazy Kat, the brainchild of George Herriman, was not just another comic strip featured in the newspapers of the early 20th century; it was an avant-garde exploration of language, society, and the human condition—cloaked in the seemingly innocuous antics of a cat and its compatriots. To regard this as merely a children’s amusement is to overlook the strip’s subtlety and its author’s genius.

The advertisement itself, offering “The Big Skream Krazy Kat,” the “Kraziest Kat You Ever Looked At,” at twelve dollars a dozen, is an intriguing cultural relic. These felt dolls were not just toys but were artifacts that allowed fans to materialize their affection for the Krazy Kat universe. It speaks volumes about the commercial foresight of Averill Manufacturing Company and the burgeoning recognition of comic characters as valuable intellectual property.

What strikes a chord for aficionados and collectors such as myself is not merely the historical significance of such merchandise but its value in charting the evolution of the comic industry. From these early, tangible incarnations of beloved characters to the modern behemoth of comic merchandising, there’s a lineage of entrepreneurial spirit and fandom.

Moreover, the collectible’s price point and its promotion through the advertisement echo a time when comics were slowly finding their feet in the wider cultural consciousness. The fact that such merchandise was patent pending and touted as made of the “finest felt” underscores the quality and care taken in producing goods that were meant to last—much like the stories themselves.

One could muse upon the fact that these dolls, once playthings, may now fetch a princely sum on the collector’s market. However, their true worth lies not in their monetary value but in their ability to connect us to the past—to a time of simplicity and the dawn of a medium that would one day become a cornerstone of American culture.

In this, we find a parallel to the timeless tales of heroism and complexity found within the pages of “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” where the depth of character and narrative reflects the maturation of comics from their Krazy Kat progenitors. It is a reminder that while comics have evolved, the core of what makes them captivating remains unaltered: the ability to reflect and influence society, to evoke emotion, and to connect us to a shared human experience.

As a guardian of these stories and artifacts, I am reminded of our duty to preserve such pieces of history. They are not merely collectibles; they are cultural milestones that continue to inform and shape the future of comic storytelling. The Krazy Kat doll, a felt figure standing twenty inches tall, is more than a plaything—it’s a symbol of the comic medium’s enduring legacy.