Our great American imagination
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18
RICK So, you can wonder what the Mammy might say if she could talk. But when it comes to talking with roadside attractions, no one is more experienced than Zippy the Pinhead, the unconventional and unpredictable comic strip character who often talks with a giant dachshund head that was once a sign for the Doggie Diner restaurants around San Francisco. We decided to try to talk with Zippy’s creator, Bill Griffith who left the Bay area for Connecticut in the late 90s.
BILL When I moved I suddenly became hyper-aware of where I was. And I started to notice muffler men in the area, and giant bowling pins and giant hot dogs. And diners. And I thought, well if Zippy can talk to the Doggie Diner doggie head, why can’t he talk to these guys? These, these buildings in some cases. Or why can’t they talk to him? And they can pick up on it.
I’ve been doing the Strip for 18 years as a daily, 33 years since I started it. When Zippy confronts a new roadside attraction every other day or so, you know, I feel like I’ve breathed more life into the Strip. Unexpected things can happen.
Someone once told me that they were really thrilled about Zippy making this leap onto the roadside because he had escaped into reality. Reality to us is mundane, and you know you don’t notice it. Most people, most people that you talk to don’t notice roadside stuff, it goes right by. Zippy notices everything because to Zippy, he’s entered a new world, and he’s gone out to what to him is a fantasy world, but actually is real, it’s a real world.
RICK So Bill (and Zippy) help readers appreciate some of the surprises of roadside reality.
BILL I just love to draw. And the more specific I can make it, the more interesting it is for me. And I get enough, I mean I get loads of people saying Don’t stop. So I’m not gonna stop. I haven’t finished with it yet.