Baron Bean (1916-1919): George Herriman’s Forgotten Comic Gem

Baron Bean: George Herriman's Forgotten Comic Gem

Baron Bean: George Herriman, the legendary cartoonist known primarily for his iconic work “Krazy Kat,” left an indelible mark on the world of comic strips. However, before the advent of his most celebrated creation, Herriman delved into several other short-lived but fascinating comic projects, one of which was “Baron Bean.” In this article, we’ll explore the intriguing world of Baron Bean, a comic strip that offers a unique blend of humor and eccentricity.

Baron Bean

Creator: George Herriman
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
Original Run: January 5, 1916 – January 22, 1919
Preceded by: The Dingbat Family (1910 – January 4, 1916)
Notable Features: – Inspired by silent comedies and borrowed facial features from Chaplin.
– Resembled Mutt and Jeff superficially but had graphic eccentricities.
– George Herriman had previously created a similar character, Baron Mooch, in 1909–10.
Collected Strips: – “Baron Bean: 1916–1917” (Hyperion Press, 1977)
– Reprinted in “The Library of American Comics” (IDW) as part of the LoAC Essentials series.

George Herriman: The Creator

To understand “Baron Bean” fully, we must first delve into the life and career of its creator, George Herriman. George Herriman was a prominent figure in the early 20th-century world of comic strips, and his contributions continue to influence the medium even today. Herriman was not a one-hit wonder; instead, he ventured into multiple comic strips, each with its distinct charm and appeal.

Baron Bean: George Herriman's Forgotten Comic Gem

Herriman’s career began with “The Dingbat Family,” a domestic comedy strip from 1910 to January 4, 1916. The well-received comic laid the groundwork for what would come next – “Baron Bean.” On January 5, 1916, Herriman introduced readers to the daily escapades of Baron Bean, a character that would be just as unique and memorable as any of Herriman’s other creations.

The Birth of Baron Bean

“Baron Bean” was Herriman’s foray into the world of impoverished aristocrats. The strip was an engaging departure from the traditional comic themes of the era. Baron Bean exuded an air of aristocracy as a character, though he was far from living the high life. The juxtaposition of his title and financial predicament set the stage for countless humorous scenarios.

photo output 258 - Baron Bean (1916-1919): George Herriman's Forgotten Comic Gem

Herriman’s artistic choices were also notable in “Baron Bean.” M. Thomas Inge, a keen observer of Herriman’s work, pointed out that the Baron’s appearance was reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin, a silent comedy icon of the time. This choice added a layer of familiarity and charm to the character, making him instantly relatable to readers. Ron Goulart, a comics historian, noted that while Baron Bean bore some resemblance to other contemporary comic characters like “Mutt and Jeff,” Herriman’s approach was far from conventional. The strip featured graphic eccentricities that were a precursor to the whimsical and surreal style that would become Herriman’s hallmark in “Krazy Kat.”

The Baron’s Adventures

“Baron Bean” may not have achieved the same enduring popularity as “Krazy Kat,” but it was a testament to Herriman’s storytelling and artistic prowess. The strip chronicled the misadventures of Baron Bean as he navigated life as an impoverished aristocrat, often trying to sponge off his associates and enjoy the luxuries of life without the means to do so. The humor in “Baron Bean” was subtle, much like the later “Krazy Kat,” it often relied on clever wit and absurd situations.

IMG 9066 - Baron Bean (1916-1919): George Herriman's Forgotten Comic Gem

Baron Bean’s daily struggles and whimsical interactions with other characters made for delightful reading. Herriman’s knack for character development was evident in the diverse cast that populated the strip. Each character brought their quirks and idiosyncrasies, adding depth and richness to the comic’s world.

A Short-Lived Gem

Despite its charm and uniqueness, “Baron Bean” was destined to be short-lived. The strip ran from January 5, 1916, to January 22, 1919, marking a three-year run. Herriman’s later and more celebrated work, “Krazy Kat,” would continue until 1934. While “Baron Bean” may not have enjoyed the same longevity, it left an indelible mark on comic strips, demonstrating Herriman’s versatility and creativity.

IMG 9065 - Baron Bean (1916-1919): George Herriman's Forgotten Comic Gem

In “Baron Bean,” Herriman exhibited his ability to blend humor with eccentricity, setting the stage for the following groundbreaking work. The strip’s subtle wit, quirky characters, and satirical take on the aristocracy gave readers a daily dose of amusement and insight.

The Legacy of Baron Bean

“Baron Bean” may have faded into relative obscurity, but it was not forgotten. In 1977, the strips from “Baron Bean” were collected in a book titled “Baron Bean: 1916–1917” (Hyperion Press). This compilation preserved the humor and artistry of George Herriman for future generations to discover.

IMG 9064 - Baron Bean (1916-1919): George Herriman's Forgotten Comic Gem

In 2012, IDW’s “The Library of American Comics” breathed new life into “Baron Bean” by announcing a three-volume reprint of the strip as part of their LoAC Essentials series. The first volume, covering the year 1916, was released in September 2012, followed by the second volume in December 2014, which covered the year 1917. The final volume was published in December 2018, encompassing 1918 and a few strips from 1919. These volumes serve as a testament to the enduring legacy of George Herriman and his often-overlooked work.


“Baron Bean” may not be as well-known as “Krazy Kat,” but it holds a special place in the history of comic strips. George Herriman’s ability to blend humor, eccentricity, and social commentary in his strips was evident in the adventures of the impoverished aristocrat Baron Bean. The strip, which ran for a brief three years, left a lasting impression with its unique characters, clever wit, and subtle humor.

photo output 259 - Baron Bean (1916-1919): George Herriman's Forgotten Comic Gem

Today, “Baron Bean” is a testament to the versatility and creativity of one of the most influential cartoonists of the 20th century. While George Herriman’s legacy is often associated with “Krazy Kat,” “Baron Bean” showcases his early experimentation and ability to create endearing characters and engaging narratives. Thanks to reprints and collections, “Baron Bean” remains accessible to new generations of readers, ensuring that George Herriman’s forgotten gem continues to shine in the world of comics.

Baron Bean Gallery

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Baron Bean Comic Strip

1. Who created the Baron Bean comic strip?

Baron Bean is a newspaper comic strip created by the cartoonist George Herriman.

2. When and where was Baron Bean first published?

Baron Bean debuted on January 5, 1916, and was initially published in The Los Angeles Examiner.

3. Who distributed the Baron Bean comic strip?

King Features Syndicate distributed Baron Bean.

4. What did George Herriman create before Baron Bean?

Before Baron Bean, George Herriman created several other comic strips, including “The Dingbat Family,” from 1910 to January 4, 1916.

5. When did Baron Bean end its run?

The Baron Bean comic strip continued until January 22, 1919.

6. How does Baron Bean compare to other comic strips of its time?

While Baron Bean had some superficial similarities to other comic strips like Mutt and Jeff, George Herriman’s work was unique in that it often shunned conventional jokes. It exhibited graphic eccentricities that can be found in more abundance in his famous strip, Krazy Kat.

7. Was Baron Bean ever collected and reprinted?

Yes, in 1977, the strips from Baron Bean were collected in a book titled “Baron Bean: 1916–1917” by Hyperion Press. In 2012, IDW’s “The Library of American Comics” also announced a three-volume reprint of Baron Bean as part of their LoAC Essentials series.

8. When were the three volumes of Baron Bean reprints released by IDW’s “The Library of American Comics”?

The first volume, covering the year 1916, was released in September 2012. The second volume, covering the year 1917, was released in December 2014. The final volume, covering the year 1918 and a few 1919 strips, was released in December 2018. These volumes are part of the LOAC Essentials series and span volumes 1, 6, and 12.

9. Were there other similar comic strips by George Herriman?

Yes, George Herriman created a similar character named Baron Mooch in 1909–10, which was a precursor to Baron Bean. Herriman drew various short-lived comics before achieving fame with Krazy Kat, including titles like Grandma’s Girl and Bud Smith.

10. What happened to Baron Mooch, the earlier comic strip by Herriman?

Baron Mooch was a daily-only comic strip that began on November 1, 1909, in The Los Angeles Examiner, where Herriman worked. It was available through the Hearst newspaper chain, which later evolved into King Features Syndicate. Herriman left Baron Mooch behind when he relocated to New York, and the strip seems to have ended in 1910.

11. What is George Herriman most famous for today?

George Herriman is most famous for his comic strip, Krazy Kat, which gained significant recognition and popularity during its run.

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Written by Liza Thomas

Hey, I'm Liza Thomas, your friendly doodle enthusiast. With a pencil in one hand and a love for visual storytelling in the other, I've found my creative haven at Toons Mag. From quirky character analyses to tips on perfecting your cartooning skills, I'm here to scribble my way into your hearts.

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