Zippy the Pinhead is a cartoon character whose cranium resembles what Mr. Potato Head might look like after a session with a garlic press. Philosophically, he's like an evolutionary perfect combination of Wittgenstein, Marshall McLuhan and Alfred E. Newman, commenting on life in the fast lane, also the medium and slow lanes, the grassy area in the median strip and the shriveled hamburgers at the rest stops. He and Griffith were serving a long sentence in the alternative press—Griffith was co-editor of the underground comic magazine Arcade—when King Features picked them up in 1986. The 432 strips in this bargain collection take on such targets as the style of the Montreal Expos uniforms, New Age music, Rambo, Garfield, Picasso, the Home Shopping Network, LeRoy Neiman, TV remote controls, the Iran-contra scandal, George Bush and politics in general.
Griffith's drawings are at times cluttered and hard to read, but they're lively and I rarely smug. He also solicits ideas from readers, so that last year when Zippy, despairing of the alternatives, decided to run for President, he got lots of suggestions for running mates. They included Billy Martin, Ed McMahon and Sy Sperling (the men's wig spokesman in TV commercials), but he decided on Leona Helmsley. When Zippy calls her, she agrees to run, offering her platform: "You know Utah? I want it carpeted....That's right....And West Virginia? Completely remodeled! Of course, Wyoming needs new drapes....And I'll have to call out th' National Guard to place a complimentary mint on every pillow west of th' Rockies!" (Dutton, paper, $8.95)