Posts Tagged ‘Don Marquis’

‘expression is the need of my soul’

February 20, 2018

Archy and Mehitabel, like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, have transcended their times and speak as well to today’s world as they did to their own.

This tickled me no end when I read it in bed last night.

Archy and Mehitabel live! And in them, so does their creator, Don Marquis, who started cranking out tales of their lives and times for his newspaper column back in 1916, two years before my father was born. George “Krazy Kat” Herriman, whose work is likewise deathless, provided the illustrations.

Another writer I revere, E.B. White, wrote the introduction to the book at right. In it, he recalled how Marquis suffered for his craft and eventually, like Archy the poetic cockroach, fell exhausted.

I don’t recall when I first stumbled across Archy and his feline shadow Mehitabel, but I must have been quite young. I was reminded of them many years later when I first read the collection “Essays of E.B. White,” and rushed out to buy me some Marquis.

Christ, he was good. As White notes in his introduction, the work is among a handful of books by American humorists “that rest solidly on the shelf.”

“It is funny, it is wise, it is tender, and it is tough,” he added.

And it holds up. If you don’t already have a copy, get one. You’ll find it marvelous, even if you’ve never thrown yourself headfirst at the keyboard, as have Archy, Marquis and I.