Are we having fun yet?

If there was a Zippy the Pinhead movie, I would want it to start where he goes to the laundromat.

Zippy doesn't go there to wash his clothes. He sits and watches the front-loading suds filled washing machines as if they're showing a movie. The random socks sweaters and suds smooshing around in an abstract montage that penetrates deep into the pinhead's soul.

Back in the mid-80s I was a confused soul. Bill Griffith's character, compiled in the two thickly filled volumes of old strips and stories captured my confusion perfectly. Zippy's world all around him was a free-association info dump meant to put you off balance. No closures, no sermons, no valuable lessons. Griffith's stories carried a sense of irony and occlusion yards thick at times, and just when you thought you figured out the game he would send Zippy off to another very important excursion.

I read about Bill Griffith's writing style a few years back. One interesting note was how his studio had a heavily black-daubed area on the floor and around his desk on the right, where he would shake out the excess India ink from his hand-dipped pen. More importantly, he would go for walks in his New Hampshire home back in the woods to collect his thoughts and get his next idea down. The next gag, the next strip or two.

Whence did Zippy come from?

Zippy's origins began with Bill Griffith's fixation on the 1932 movie Freaks, that he saw in a random New York movie theatre in 1963, when he was reaching a crisis in creativity with his painting class. Later on, as he joined the 1960s/70s Underground Comix movement he spoofed teen oriented romance comics with "I Married a Pinhead" putting Zippy right on the cover. Later Zippy appeared with his other character Mr. Toad, a no-nonsense cigar chomping hard ass who ran the show.

Griffith, sensing some guilt maybe at using this physically altered 'real person' in a movie spent a great chunk of his artistic output in setting the record straight, telling a moving and sensitive story of the freak show attraction named Schlitzie the Pinhead in his illustrated book Nobody's Fool.

It's worth reading; I was surprised at the amount of care and humanity that showed in the inner workings of the 'freakshow' circuit, from the managers to their members. I finished reading the book with a greater measure of respect out of people who can make their lives mean something given difficult obstacles to overcome.


Running a contest for YOU to appear in a poster promoting Mayfield Eight. Picture this: You as a member of the notorious Motorcycle Club known as The Banshees!!

Details HERE.

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