on this U.S. postage stamp, Zippy the Pinhead

Zippy the PinheadBill Griffith

Weighty concerns

Cartoons are not merely illustrations that accompany a gag or story. The effect of a cartoon, humorous or otherwise, depends on the cooperation or contrast of verbal and visual elements. This is why, after reading Zippy the Pinhead, one may ask, “Should I laugh? Are we having fun yet? Does the clown suit make fun of pinheads, or does Zippy’s abandonment of verbal necessity make fun of us?”

Countercultural hero

A microcephalic in a polka-dot mu’umu’u with styrofoam shoes and a bow on his topknot is not expected to be philosophical, or provocative, or definitively unfunny, but being as he is expresses a deeper truth, pushing us all toward some kind of understanding.

Zippy vs. Griffy

Zippy or Griffy, which character best enacts the spirit of the artist? Is Bill Griffith the one or is Griffy the one who asks questions? Is Dingburg merely our town, with our people in it, as seen in a funhouse mirror? Does God pretend that Dingburg is real or that our world is real?


Griffy complains about the stupidities of modern life and the loss of diners and Coney Island funhouses. The fact that he feels he needs to complain is only one of his many complaints. “I think I’d better go back to my deck & toy with a few common misapprehensions.” — Bill Griffith