Episode 347: Bill Griffith

29Jun

Seeing Freaks at 19 was a formative experience. A small public viewing of the film in a Greenwich Village loft left Bill Griffith feeling baffled and fascinating, with the overwhelming desire to express the experience through art. This was well before he became another convert of the underground comics movement, eight years later, his best known and longest lived creation bore the clear influence of the film. Schlitzie, a microcephalic supporting actor was the clear inspiration for his strip, Zippy the Pinhead. Schlitzie’s influence was largely aesthetic, however, with Zippy largely being a cipher for Griffith and a conduit for absurdist satire. Decades later, the cartoonist finally found the ideal outlet for a longtime fascination with Freaks. Nobody’s Fool tells the story of Schlitzie, offering a full portrait of a performer who captured his imagination a lifetime ago with a few moments on screen.

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