From Publishers Weekly
Zippy the Pinhead occupies a peculiar place in the American popscape, a completely uncategorizable daily comic strip syndicated by King Features for two decades in hundreds of papers. Zippy, a towering, bald-headed naïf with permanent five-o'clock shadow and always attired in a spotted muumuu, wanders through exactingly rendered architectural backgrounds trading Dadaistic bon mots with a gallery of regulars. The result is a strangely intoxicating blend of the purposely anarchic, thickly pop-referential (everyone cuts the "e" off their "thes," just like in Little Orphan Annie
) and surprisingly direct—just as one has settled into a stretch of surreal humor, Griffith slips in a jagged political barb. There are grace notes, as well, such as the strip set on a factory floor, where Charlie Chaplin can be seen lurking in a corner as a nice nod to Modern Times
. Griffith is hardly above mocking himself, as in the strip where Zippy sits in a near-deserted diner and "it just seemed like th' right place to contemplate th' David Lynchian underbelly of the American dream." In an appendix the very precise Griffith details exactly
what building he is reproducing in each strip, along with trivia (Dec.)
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The latest annual Zippy
collection contains only two-thirds of a year's worth of Griffith's great satirical strip. Fortunately, strips culled from out-of-print forebears fill out the page count and reinforce the uneasy feeling that, though slogans, buzzwords, celebs, and products change, the commercial pop-cultural reality that Zippy the Pinhead permanently inhabits may be--ulp!--eternal. We recognize all that pop-cultural dreck, and if we haven't seen all the commercial architecture Griffith lovingly draws around the pinhead and his pals, that's what keeps the strip fascinating . . . No, it isn't. The fact that it's hilarious is what keeps it fascinating. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved