Zippy Comix, Catalog Copyright © 2019, Bill Griffith. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce or distribute this app, its contents or portions thereof in any form. Produced by The Sometimes Press in association with Pinhead Productions.
All About Zippy
An insight into the development and idiosyncratic traits that define Zippy as a cultural icon celebrating the modern human condition.
All About Mr. Griffith
A detailed biography and medical records that provide a clearer context and appreciation of all that has gone before and why.
Funfilled philisophical aphorisms from Zippy’s garden of wisdom.
Zippy in Color
Arcane cartooning processes revealed.
Books, comix, merchandise, artwork and more.
An invaluable guide to understanding the complexities of Zippy.
Today’s Zippy strip, subscribe now, it’s free.
Quintessential Zippy strips.
Zippy the Pinhead is a fictional character who is the protagonist of Zippy, an American comic strip created by Bill Griffith. Zippy's most famous quotation,
"Are we having fun yet?", appears in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and became a catchphrase. He almost always wears a yellow muumuu/clown suit with large red polka dots, and puffy, white clown shoes. (Other forms of attire may be seen when appropriate to the context, e.g. a toga.) Although in name and appearance, Zippy is a microcephalic, he is distinctive not so much for his skull shape, or for any identifiable form of brain damage, but for his enthusiasm for philosophical non sequiturs ("All life is a blur of Republicans and meat!"), verbal free association, and the pursuit of popular culture ephemera. His wholehearted devotion to random artifacts satirizes the excesses of consumerism.
The character of Zippy the Pinhead initially appeared in underground publications during the 1970s. The Zippy comic is distributed by King Features Syndicate to more than 100 newspapers, and Griffith self-syndicates strips to college newspapers and alternative weeklies. The strip is unique among syndicated multi-panel dailies for its characteristics of literary nonsense, including a near-absence of either straightforward gags or continuous narrative, and for its unusually intricate artwork, which is reminiscent of the style of Griffith's 1970s underground comics.
Zippy made his first appearance in Real Pulp Comics #1 in March 1971, published by Print Mint. In a 2008 interview with Alex Dueben, Griffith recalled how it all began:
I first saw the 1932 Tod Browning film Freaks in 1963 at a screening at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where I was attending art school. I was fascinated by the pinheads in the introductory scene and asked the projectionist (who I knew) if he could slow down the film so I could hear what they were saying better. He did and I loved the poetic, random dialog. Little did I know that Zippy was being planted in my fevered brain. Later, in San Francisco in 1970, I was asked to contribute a few pages to Real Pulp Comics #1, edited by cartoonist Roger Brand. His only guideline was to say "Maybe do some kind of love story, but with really weird people." I never imagined I'd still be putting words into Zippy's fast-moving mouth some 38 years later.
The strip began in The Berkeley Barb in 1976 and was syndicated nationally soon after, originally as a weekly strip. When William Randolph Hearst III took over the San Francisco Examiner in 1985, he offered Griffith an opportunity to do Zippy as a daily strip. Several months later it was picked up for worldwide daily distribution by King Features Syndicate in 1986. The Sunday Zippy debuted in 1990. When the San Francisco Chronicle canceled Zippy briefly in 2002, the newspaper received thousands of letters of protest, including one from Robert Crumb, who called Zippy "by far the very best daily comic strip that exists in America." The Chronicle quickly restored the strip but dropped it again in 2004, leading to more protests as well as grateful letters from non-fans.
The strip has developed a cult followingand continues to be syndicated in many newspapers, often ranking at or near the bottom of reader polls.
Characters and story
Zippy's original appearance was partly inspired by the microcephalic Schlitzie, from the film Freaks, which was enjoying something of a cult revival at the time, and P. T. Barnum's sideshow performer Zip the Pinhead, who may not have been a microcephalic but was nevertheless billed as one. (Coincidentally, the real name of the latter was William Henry Johnson, or Jackson according to some sources, and Griffith's full name is William Henry Jackson Griffith, after his great-grandfather, the noted photographer.)
Griffith has never committed himself to a set origin story for Zippy; no fewer than five have appeared:
• a strange visitor from another planet
• a pinhead who wandered away from the circus
• an android whose inventor didn't live to see its imperfections
• the secret identity of a jaded heir to a fortune who decided to apply Zen to everyday life
• a college student who inexplicably turned into a pinhead
Griffith also never committed himself to any set time period or home location for Zippy. Zippy's favorite foods are taco sauce and Ding Dongs. He sometimes snacks on Polysorbate 80. Zippy's unpredictable behavior sometimes causes severe difficulty for others, but never for himself. (For example, drug dealers tried to use him as a drug mule, but lost their stash or were jailed.)
He is married to a nearly identical pinhead named Zerbina, has two children, Fuelrod (a boy) and Meltdown (a girl), both apparently in their early teens, and owns a cat named Dingy. His parents, Ebb and Flo, originally from Kansas, live in Florida. Zippy's angst-ridden twin brother Lippy also frequently appears. He is portrayed as Zippy's total opposite, often dressed in a conservative suit, thinking sequentially, and avoiding his brother's penchant for non-sequiturs. In a daily strip dated 8 March 2005, he is depicted as being deeply moved by the poetry of Leonard Cohen, the landscape paintings of Maxfield Parrish, and the music of John Tesh.
He has four close friends:
• Claude Funston, a hapless working man
• Griffy, a stand-in for Bill Griffith, who often appears in the strip to complain about various aspects of modern life
• Shelf-Life, a fast-talking schemer always looking for "the next big thing"
• Vizeen Nurney, a 20-something lounge singer who, despite her rebellious image, has an optimistic and sympathetic nature
A humanoid toad, Mr. Toad (less commonly "Mr. the Toad") who embodies blind greed and selfishness, appears occasionally (along with his wife, Mrs. Toad, and their children, Mustang and Blazer), as do The Toadettes, a group of mindless and interchangeable amphibians, who pop up here and there; and the Stupidity Patrol, described by Bill Griffith as "cruising the streets of L.A., correcting the behavior of insensitive louts".
Another occasionally occurring character is God, appearing either as a disembodied head or a head superimposed on various peoples' bodies. He is depicted as either conversing with Zippy on various philosophical topics, or commenting on humanity in general.
In his daily-strip incarnation, Zippy spends much of his time traveling and commenting on interesting places; recent strips focus on his fascination with roadside icons featuring giant beings; Zippy also frequently participates in his long-running conversation with the giant fiberglass doggie mascot of San Francisco's Doggie Diner chain (later, the Carousel diner near the San Francisco Zoo). For a while the Zippy website encouraged people to send photos of interesting places for Zippy to visit in the strip.
In 2007, Griffith began to focus his daily strip on the fictional city of Dingburg, Maryland, Zippy's "birthplace" which, according to the cartoonist, is located "17 miles west of Baltimore." Griffith said, "Over the years, I began to expand Zippy's circle of friends beyond my usual cast of characters to a wider world of people like Zippy--other pinheads. I kept this up for a few months, happily adding more and more muu-muu-clad men and women until one day the whole thing just reached critical mass. The thought then occurred, 'Where do all these friends of Zippy live? Do they live in the real world which Zippy has been seen escaping for years—or do they live apart, in a pinhead world of their own?' Thus Dingburg, 'The City Inhabited Entirely by Pinheads' was born. It even had a motto: 'Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere'. The logical next step was to imagine Dingburg streets and neighborhoods—to create a place where Zippy's wacky rules would be the norm and everyone would play 24-hour Skeeball and worship at the feet of the giant Muffler Man. Zippy had, at last, found his home town."
In regard to Zippy's famous catch phrase, at the 2003 University of Florida Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, Griffith recalled the phone call from Bartlett's:
When Bartlett's approached me in—I forget what year, five or six years ago—I got a call from the editor. And he was going to give me credit for the "Are we having fun yet" saying, but he wanted to know exactly where Zippy had first said it. I did some research (I had no idea), and I eventually found... the strip "Back to Pinhead, the Punks and the Monks" from Yow #2 in 1979... That's the first time he said, "Are we having fun yet?" Certainly not intended by me to be anything more than another non sequitur coming out of Zippy's mind.
Zippy's signature expression of surprise is "Yow!"
Wikipedia contributors. "Zippy the Pinhead." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 Jun. 2019. Web. 19 Aug. 2019.
"Are we having fun yet?" This non sequitur utterance by the clown-suited
philosopher/media star Zippy the Pinhead has become so oft-quoted that it is now in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Zippy has in fact become an international icon, even appearing on the (former) Berlin Wall. Zippy's creator, Bill Griffith, began his comics career in New York City in 1969.
His first strips were published in the East Village Other and Screw Magazine and featured an angry amphibian named Mr. The Toad.
He ventured to San Francisco in 1970 to join the burgeoning underground comics movement and made his home there until 1998. His first major comic book titles included Tales of Toad and Young Lust, a best-selling series parodying romance comics of the time.He was co-editor of Arcade, The Comics Revue for its seven issue run in the mid-70s and worked with the important underground publishers throughout the seventies and up to the present: Print Mint, Last Gasp, Rip Off Press, Kitchen Sink and Fantagraphics Books. The first Zippy strip appeared in Real Pulp #1
(Print Mint) in 1970. The strip went weekly in 1976, first in the Berkeley Barb
and then syndicated nationally through Rip Off Press.
In 1980 weekly syndication was taken over by Zipsynd (later Pinhead Productions),
owned and operated by the artist. Zippy also appeared in the pages of the National
Lampoon and High Times from 1977 to 1984. In 1985 the San Francisco Examiner
asked Griffith to do Zippy six days a week, and in 1986 he was approached by
King Features Syndicate to take the daily strip to a national audience. Sunday
color strips began running in 1990. Today Zippy appears in over 200 newspapers
worldwide. There have been over a dozen paperback collections of Griffith's work
and numerous comic book and magazine appearances, both here and abroad.
He became an irregular contributor to The New Yorker in 1994. Griffith's inspiration
for Zippy came from several sources, among them the sideshow "pinheads" in
Tod Browning's 1932 film Freaks. The name "Zippy" springs from "Zip the What-Is-It?" a "freak" exhibited by P.T. Barnum from 1864 to 1926. Zip's real name was William Henry Jackson (below), born in 1842. Coincidentally, Griffith (as he discovered in 1975, five years after creating Zippy) bears the same name. He was born William Henry Jackson Griffith (in 1944), named after his great-grandfather,
well-known photographer of the Old West William H. Jackson (1842-1941).
Griffith presently lives and works in East Haddam, Connecticut with his wife, cartoonist Diane Noomin. .
Feel left out? Or even worse? Maybe just plain dumb ‘cos you just don’t get it? Let Professor Griffy and Zippy help you understand the intricacies that inform a Zippy the Pinhead strip and you’ll soon be back on track with the in-crowd.
Tap the red dot system to learn more.
The Zippy strip is distributed by King Features and is published daily in newspapers and online across the United States and internationally.
Continue for a selection of classic Zippy strips.
16th August, 1995
23rd August, 1995
15th August, 1995
7th August, 1995
10th July, 1995
27th May, 2008
30th May, 2008
22nd December, 2006
27th April, 2012
27th December, 1994
26th July, 1993
2nd January, 1995
5th September, 1997
8th May, 1997
8th August, 2012
10th April, 2008
Zippy in Color
Every Sunday Zippy appears in color.
Tap on the polka dots to reveal the arcane art of color cartoons!
At the Zippy Store you will find original artwork, t-shirts, mugs, posters, books, posters, screen prints, rare comix and much, much more.
There are Great bargains to be found in the store!
Search for your favorite strips, get all the latest news and get all the facts.
Scour the database get your strips state by state.
Click here to visit the store or tap through to see some of
the great items available at the Zippy Store.
ISBN : 9781683354529
The life and times of Schlitzie the Pinhead.
A biography by Bill Griffith
6.5” by 9.5”, 256 pages, hardcover.
ISBN : 9781606998953
My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist
A Graphic Memoir by Bill Griffith
WINNER: Eisner Award 2016
6.5” by 9.5”, 208 pages, hardcover with dust jacket.
Zippy Annuals and Comics
A great range of Zippy titles including Zippy Quarterly, calendars, Comics Journal and links to exclusive underground titles and collections.
Zippy’s funfilled aphorsims fullfil the longings of the philosophical.
Tap on the polka dots for Zippyisms!
All life is a blur of
Republicans and meat!
I think I’m having
a mid-week crisis!
I just accepted Provolone© into my life!
Laundry is the
Zombies rule Belgium!
I’m Zippy the Pinhead
and I’m totally committed to the festive mode!
ARE WE HAVING
I am protected by the
power of stain-resistant
Virtual reality isn’t
what it used to be.
I just felt a
Frivolity is a stern
therefore I am.
Reality distorts my
faith in reality