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Zero Comics #1
excellent writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 7
Zippy Stories #1 _  
Zippy Stories 1 Back CoverBack Cover
(click for larger image)

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1st Printing / 1977 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
Both issues of Zippy Stories are complilations of comic strips that originally appeared weekly in the Berkeley Barb in the mid 1970s, and both feature long-form stories that were serialized week-by-week in the newspaper, followed by other single-page strips from the Berkeley Barb that feature a variety of characters.

Zippy Stories #1 leads off with the story "Ticket to Mars," which is about the adventures Zippy goes through while working in a carnival sideshow with the Bearded Lady (aka Katrinka). The story leads Zippy into a number of subplot detours, including a visit to the Magic Kingdom with Mickey Mouse and a suburban encounter with DiDi Glitz, which is portrayed in a delightful jam with his wife Diane Noomin (like Griffith, a Brooklyn native).

Due to its constantly evolving plot, "Ticket to Mars" never bogs down in a dead end and by the end of the 27-page story it neatly circles back to Zippy's original situation at the carnival with the Bearded Lady. Like virtually all of Griffith's comic stories, the script is snappy and brimming with funny aberrations from perceived reality. The weekly format of serialization intrudes with "next-week teasers" at the end of most of the strips, but they don't prove to be annoying. In the hands of Bill Griffith, the artwork is always well composed and on point, though the execution falls short of Griffith's best illustration.

"Ticket to Mars" is followed by nearly two dozen single-page strips, a third of which are "Griffith Observatory" and another third featuring Zippy. Most of these are pretty weak, though there are some high points not to be missed, including "Not of This Planet," "Conceptual Art: Bargain Rates," and "Zippy the Pinhead." The final strip on the back cover, "Understand Your Zippy Nature" (featured in the lightbox link in the right sidebar) is also essential, as it foretells Griffy's increasing participation in the ongoing world of Zippy.

Zippy Stories #1. The first of about six thousand compilations of Zippy comic strips, and not the best of those by any stretch. But like every single one of them, it offers something you can't find in any other comic book: unadulterated Zippy, which can be like crack to a crack addict. Lick the mitten and do your Zippy trip.

There are two printings of this comic book, both by Rip Off Press and both with 95-cent cover prices. Both printings produced approximately 10,000 copies. The 1st printing is distinguished from the 2nd because it was printed with red and black ink on the interior pages, while the 2nd printing was only printed with black ink.

I don't own a copy of the 2nd printing and have never seen one, so I don't know if the front-cover art for the 2nd printing was adjusted to eliminate the misleading "This Show All in Color" tag line on the 1st printing (though I doubt it was). But I can say I don't see how the addition of red ink in the 1st printing added much to the stories. Certainly not like Thrilling Murder, which used red ink to convey depictions of blood. To be honest, I'd probably prefer the pages in Zippy Stories #1 to be in black and white instead of drenched in red ink.


Bill Griffith - 1-52