Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Zippy the Pinhead
Zippy made his first appearance in Real Pulp Comix #1 in March 1971. The comic strip began in The Berkeley Barb in 1976 and was syndicated nationally soon after, originally as a weekly strip; it has been a daily feature since 1985.
The Zippy comic strip has a cult following of devoted readers; however, many people find nothing humorous in Zippy and cannot comprehend the strip. This antagonism and confusion is so common that the official Zippy website contains a tutorial on understanding the comic strip . When the original home of the Zippy daily strip, the San Francisco Chronicle, cancelled it briefly in 2002, the Chronicle 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 continues to be syndicated in other papers.
The strip is unique among syndicated multi-panel dailies for its near-absence of either straightforward gags or continuous narrative, and for its unusually intricate artwork, which is only slightly simplified from the style of Griffith's 1970s underground comics.
Zippy's original appearance was partly inspired by Zip and Pip (Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow), the microcephalic twins in the film Freaks, which was enjoying something of a cult revival at the time. However, 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, verbal free association, and the pursuit of pop culture ephemera. His wholehearted devotion to random artifacts satirizes the excesses of consumerism. Zippy's unpredictable behavior sometimes causes severe difficulty for others, but never for himself. His character is partly inspired by P.T. Barnum's sideshow freak, Zip the What-is-it.
He is married to a nearly identical pinhead named Zerbina, and has two children, Fuel-Rod and Meltdown. He has two close friends: Claude Funston, a hapless working man, and Griffy, a stand-in for Bill Griffith who often appears in the strip to complain about various aspects of modern life. A humanoid toad named Mr. Toad appears occasionally, embodying blind greed and selfishness.
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.
His most famous quote is "Are we having fun yet?"
- Zippy Stories. Berkeley: And/Or, 1981. ISBN 0915904586. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1986. ISBN 0-86719-325-5
- Nation of Pinheads. Berkeley: And/Or, 1982. ISBN 0915904713 Reprinted, San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1987. ISBN 0-86719-365-4 Zippy strips, 1979-1982.
- Pointed Behavior. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1984. ISBN 0-86719-315-8 Zippy strips, 1983-1984.
- Are We Having Fun Yet? Zippy the Pinhead's 29 Day Guide to Random Activities and Arbitrary Donuts. New York: Dutton, 1985. ISBN 0-525-48184-2 Reprinted, Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1994. ISBN 1-56097-149-5
- Pindemonium. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1986. ISBN 0-86719-348-4 Zippy strips, 1985-1986.
- King Pin: New Zippy Strips. New York: Dutton, 1987. ISBN 0-525-48330-6 Zippy strips, 1986-7.
- Pinhead's Progress: More Zippy Strips. New York: Dutton, 1989. ISBN 0-525-48468-X Zippy strips, 1987-8.
- From A to Zippy: Getting There Is All the Fun. New York: Penguin Books, 1991. ISBN 0-14-014988-0 Zippy strips, 1988-90.
- Zippy's House of Fun: 54 Months of Sundays. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1995. ISBN 1-56097-162-2 (Color strips, May 1990 - September 1994)
- Zippy and beyond: A Pinhead's Progress - Comic Strips, Stories, Travel Sketches and Animation Material. San Francisco: Cartoon Art Museum, 1997.
- Zippy Annual: A millennial melange of microcephalic malapropisms and metaphysical muzak. ("Vol. 1", "Impressions based on random data".) Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2000. ISBN 1-56097-351-X
- Zippy Annual 2001. ("Vol. 2", "April 2001 - September 2001".) Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2001. ISBN 1-56097-472-9
- Zippy Annual 2002. ("Vol. 3", "September 2001 - October 2002".) Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2002. ISBN 1-56097-505-9
- Zippy Annual 2003. ("Vol. 4", "October 2002 - October 2003".) Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2003. ISBN 1-56097-563-6
- Zippy Annual 2004. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2004.
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