Comics Alternative Interviews: Bill Griffith

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“All happy families are alike…”

InvisibleInkWhile at this year’s Small Press Expo, Derek had the opportunity to talk with the great Bill Griffith, whose new book from Fantagraphics, Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist, debuted at the event and will soon be available in stores everywhere. As the subtitle suggests, this is a different kind of book for Griffith, a radical departure from his syndicated Zippy strip. Not only is it a deeply personal and moving memoir, but it’s his first long-form work in comics. It is a narrative of his mother’s sixteen-year love affair with a prolific and recognizable cartoonist of the of the 1950s and 1960s. But even more than that, it’s Bill’s own story about the discover of his mother’s hidden secret — he learned about the affair in 1972, right after the death of his father — and his ongoing attempts to undercover the details and understand the dynamics of a family life now long behind him. Indeed, Invisible Ink can be read as a detective narrative, with its autobiographic protagonist visiting aged relatives, investigating long-forgotten documents, and putting together the pieces of his parents’ lives that may never render a complete picture. Perhaps most notable, Invisible Ink is a book about family and memory. Time itself stands as a central focus of the text, with Griffith juxtaposing past and present events in a very fluid and psychologically
revealing manner. Dreams and fantasies become tangible. Reminiscences define current reality. In all, it is a narrative that is Faulknerian in scope. In his interview with Derek, Griffith discusses the circumstances surrounding Invisible Ink and the history of its gestation. But the conversation doesn’t end with the new book. The two also discuss Bill’s time in underground comix, his world-famous Zippy the Pinhead, the unlikely backstory of Zippy‘s syndication with King Features, and the eventual winding down of the strip’s current Dingburg run (which began in 2007). Equal parts history, insights, and laughter, Derek’s interview with Bill Griffith was perhaps the highlight of his time at SPX 2015. Yow!


Be sure to visit Bill Griffith’s official website for up-to-date information on Invisible Ink, Zippy merchandise, and tons o’ other fun stuff. You can even find there the outro music of this podcast episode, “Pinheads Are Everywhere,” written by Griffith and performed by Dan Hiatt and No Sisters (with backup vocals by The Zippettes).


Bill Griffith with Derek at the Fantagraphics table, SPX 2015


Two True Freaks! Episode 151 – Comics Monthly Monday #25 — Brought To You By Joe Anthrax!


In this SUPER SIZED MEGA DOUBLE POWER EPISODE BROUGHT TO YOU BY SEAN ENGLE (JOE ANTHRAX), Chris overcompensates for the lack of Scott by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. It all starts rationally enough when he invites Johnny Bueno on to talk about Frank Miller’s epic Daredevil #181, but then the tangents start. By the time Michael Bailey shows up for the second half, things go off the rails. Expect Manson (Charles), YouTube crazies, Spies Like Us,World War Hulk, Johnny Ryan, the first appearance of Zippy, Disney comics, She-Ra, doing Mary Poppins, watching sex scenes with your Mom, Joysticks (the movie) and WAAAAAAAAY more! OVER THREE HOURS OF FREAKY GOODNESS!


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Two True Freaks! Episode 102 – Comics Monthly Monday #16


This month, The Freaks suspend their so-called “normal” topics and have a long, fascinating conversation with the legendary “Bad Boy” Johnny Bueno, Jack Of All Trades when it comes to comics.

In this episode you will hear such things discussed as: Bizarre Sex Comics, R. Crumb, about 5 seconds about DEVO, Ronnie James Dio, Spider-Man, Superman, The Fantastic Four, What happened with Chris Claremont?, Frank Horney, Omaha The Cat Dancer, Cherry Poptart, Richard Corben, Doctor Comics and Mr. Games, Heavy Metal, Bill Griffith and Zippy the Pinhead, Why Jack quit super hero comics, Mary from Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica, Diamond David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, Brian Michael Bendis, Dick Ayers, Sgt. Fury with the head of Jack Kirby, Captain Marvel (mostly, but not exclusively, the DC version), Contest Of Champions, The Thing as Rocky Balboa, New York City, and Fish Heads-Fish Heads-Roly Poly Fish Heads!

WTF, you say? Indeed, my friends. Indeed.



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