Home » Arts & Entertainment » Comics & Animation » Bill Griffith’s Character, Zippy the Pinhead, was Inspired by William Henry Johnson. Johnson was Born with an Unusual Tapering Cranium and Worked for PT Barnum as Zip the Pinhead.

Bill Griffith’s Character, Zippy the Pinhead, was Inspired by William Henry Johnson. Johnson was Born with an Unusual Tapering Cranium and Worked for PT Barnum as Zip the Pinhead.

Bill Griffith is the creator of the iconic ‘Zippy the Pinhead’ and an American underground comix movement member. Born William Henry Jackson Griffith, he attempted to become the “next big thing” in New York’s art world, but in 1967 he realized the “art thing” wasn’t going to work out. So, in 1969, he began drawing comics for various underground comic publications. Do you know Who Inspired the Characters in Bill Griffith’s Comics?

William Henry Johnson influenced Bill Griffith’s comic book character Zippy the Pinhead. Johnson was born with an unusually tapering cranium, leading some to believe he was a microcephalic. Johnson used to work for P.T. Zip the Pinhead a character created by P.T. Barnum.

Bill Griffith’s Early Works

His first strips were published in New York City’s East Village Other and Screw Magazine and featured an angry amphibian named ‘Mr. ‘The Toad.’

Beginning with his romance comics parodies Tales of Toad and ‘Young Lust,’ he became a part of the San Francisco underground comix movement in 1970. He has worked with most indie publishers from the 1970s to the present, including Print Mint, Last Gasp, Rip Off Press, Kitchen Sink, and Fantagraphics Books, and has published work in Yellow Dog and Real Pulp. (Source: Inkct

Bill Griffith and Zippy the Pinhead

His most well-known creation is ‘Zippy the Pinhead’ (as in ‘Zippy for President’), a polka-dotted clown suit-wearing human with a pointy head who first appeared in the first issue of Real Pulp in 1970. Griffith’s aesthetic was distinct from that of other underground artists. His satirical and humorous comics openly criticize today’s media-saturated and celebrity-obsessed society. The strip first appeared weekly in the Berkeley Barb in 1976. It was then syndicated nationally by Rip Off Press until the artist switched to self-syndication to college newspapers and alternative weeklies under the Zipsend (later Pinhead Productions) label in 1980.

‘Zippy’ has also been featured in National Lampoon, High Times, Arcade, Yow, Weirdo, and the San Francisco Examiner. Since 1990, King Features Syndicate has delivered the comic to a national audience daily in over 200 newspapers. Zippy’s catchphrase, “Are we having fun yet?” has become a well-known national catchphrase. Bill Griffith, who lives and works in East Haddam, Connecticut, with his wife, cartoonist Diane Noomin, has also contributed to The New Yorker irregularly since 1994. His work has been reprinted in several languages, including German, French, Swedish, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Finnish, and Spanish.

Griffith illustrated ‘ProJunior’ (Kitchen Sink Press, 1971), a one-shot comic book based on Don Dohler’s character ProJunior. In Monte Beauchamp’s book ‘The Life and Times of R. Crumb,’ he wrote a personal homage to Crumb. Crumb. Comments from Contemporaries (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998).

Zippy is immortalized on tee shirts for dogs and humans, mugs, posters, stamps, bumper stickers, aprons, stickers, key chains, dolls, tote bags, magnets, ties, hats, skateboards, cards, calendars, and shoes, all of which Griffith handles himself through Zazzle.com. “I liked the Z,” Griffith said of Zazzle, which he discovered while looking for a place to sell his “Zippy” memorabilia.

Zippy has had several opportunities to work in Hollywood over the years, but has turned down offers from Showtime, Disney, NBC Films, and George Harrison’s company HandMade Films. (Source: Inkct

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