For primary characters- click below. For secondary characters click here

Zippy is the "wise fool". He knows nothing at all and everything at once. Media-soaked, he has the attention span of a channel-surfer. He’s giddy from information overload. He speaks in an expressive voice, full of emotion and media sound bites. His mind works in a distinctly non-linear fashion, leap-frogging from one thought to the next , creating a speech pattern that closely resembles the swing of improvisational jazz. Though his behavior may appear "surreal", he’s really making his own kind of sense of the world. His seeming "non sequitur" style is really more of a rearranging of subjects, objects and emotions, flowing like poetry. Zippy thrives on an additive-rich, high MSG diet and a hefty dose of celebrity-spotting (after all, he lives in Hollywood). He’s fueled by Ding Dongs and taco sauce. Of course, there’s an intentionally satiric edge to Zippy, but this never takes a back seat to his strong attachment and loyalty to those around him. When he’s not hanging out at Donut Hut, the bowling alley or the laundromat, he lives with his family in a courtyard apartment building a few blocks from Hollywood Boulevard. When he wants to get away from it all, he goes to his fur-lined fallout shelter in an vacant lot on the other side of town. He’s the central character of the show, bouncing around inside each episode, both reacting to and directing (often unwittingly) the storyline.
TOP


Griffy is Zippy’s partner in "surreal" social criticism. He never met a phenomenon about which he didn’t have an instant opinion. All-too-rooted in the real world, he’s the "bad cop" to Zippy’s "good cop" as they affect and react to the "real world". Underneath Griffy’s judgmental nature, though, is a lot of insecurity and self-doubt. Try as he may to keep his emotions in check, they find a way out. He often uses his analytical powers as a weapon (or a shield) in his battle with modern civilization. L.A. is the perfect "fishbowl" for Griffy to analyze and dissect, since it’s the "belly of the beast"--the place where all fads and trends originate. He created and heads the "Stupidity Patrol", composed of three assistants who cruise the city looking for "deviants" (anyone who doesn’t see society the way Griffy does) and report back to him. Griffy is a part-time astronomer who’d rather turn his high-powered telescope down at the city than up at the stars. He works (naturally) at the Griffith Observatory, in the hills above Hollywood.
TOP


Claude is a perenially lovesick urban hillbilly with a cowlick on steroids whose real life closely parallels the guests on tabloid TV talkfests. He’s originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he worked in a bowling ball factory. He came to L.A. full of high hopes and found a job-- working in a bowling ball factory. A searcher for life’s hidden blueprint, he’s always on the lookout for the "ideal" woman he can never quite find. He’s a barroom philosopher who dispenses trailerpark wisdom to anyone who’ll listen (mostly, it’s Zippy). He’s soulful, emotionally needy and full of comedic self-pity. Claude believes everything he reads in the National Enquirer. His dreams die hard and, as a result, he harbors a "dark side", full of suspicion and paranoia. Fortunately, his darker urges don’t dominate him, and he comes off a little like a "Don Quixote of love". He’s never truly introspective, but has a romantic image of himself (lots of "could’ves" and "should’ves"). When his optimistic nature backfires, he just goes on. He lives in an RV Park down by the freeway on-ramp, next to the 7-11.

Claude on romance...
Claude: "When I’m in love, I worry I’ll fall out of love. When I’m out of love, I worry I’ll never love again."
Zippy: "It’s vicious circle of ecstasy and despair, huh, Claude?"
Claude: "Wouldn’t want it any other way, pardner."
TOP


Mr. Toad is, essentially, a malevolent force. He enjoys seeing other people squirm as a result of his words and deeds. His motto is, "Screw them before they can screw you". He’s a big, green sociopath with a permanent chip on his shoulder, full of bully vengeance. Mr. Toad is the only one of Zippy’s friends who was born in L.A. and his anger springs from the alienation he feels toward all the "outsiders" who’ve "ruined the place". Since L.A. is populated almost exclusively by outsiders, the Toad has an endless supply of victims to torture. He hates show biz and celebrities-- but he loves to hate them. He wears his alienation proudly, aware that it’s the source of not just his anger, but his power. He’s cynical, abusive and very large. "Don’t goad the Toad".
TOP


Shelf-Life ("S.L.") is always looking for the "next big thing", especially if the merchandising rights are available. He never stops scheming and dreaming. He’s the poor man’s Donald Trump, only a little less artful about his deals. He’s in L.A. to work the angles--maps of the stars, forged celebrity autographs, his short-lived "StarTours" company, getting on game shows, psychic hotline infomercials, real estate frauds, etc. He tries to get has-been Hollywood celebs to endorse his scams. He’s in get-rich-quick heaven, the mecca for flash and trash. Though he’s not consciously out to hurt people, he can rationalize any pain he causes ("Hey, pal, it’s a dirty business"). He’s young and "entitled". He feels he deserves to succeed and is oblivious to everyone else’s needs. The only person who likes him (aside from his loan shark) is Zippy. When he speaks of "grief" or "personal loss", it’s most likely because he had to switch accountants. S.L.’s a sreetwise hustler and a loner (he’s an orphan, on his own since he was twelve) and, since no one ever helped him, why should he help anyone else? He doesn’t know how to act "normally" with people and doesn’t care. He’s totally unself-aware ("There’s no money in self-aware, pal.") and, as a result, never sees the long-term repercussions coming. He wears a tight, black sweater emblazoned with ever-changing sayings ("Reach Out and Touch Someone Else", "Can We Network?", "Make My Deal", etc.), which can also reflect his inner thoughts. Shelf-Life speaks in a rapid-fire New York accent, spraying as much as saying.
TOP



Zerbina is Zippy’s sensual, full-figured, occasional wife. Though she’s a pinhead too, she’s a little more "rooted" than Zippy. Not that she doesn’t forget as often as he does that they’re married-- and have two kids. She’s strongly self-confident and not at all eager to please, and she clearly marches to the beat of a different drummer. A nineties woman, she doesn’t define herself solely as a wife and mother, though constantly embracing and rejecting those roles. Of course, she says and does everything through the "pinhead filter" (not "1,2,3" but more like "2,3,17"). She enjoys shopping, waiting for hours to connect to her Internet server and deconstructing the post-modern nuclear family.
TOP


Fuelrod and Meltdown are Zippy and Zerbina’s twin offspring. They go to "Hollywood High" and have a garage band. Though they have "regular kid" qualities, they often act less childlike than their parents. They try valiantly to negotiate the shoals of adolescence and decode their progenitors’ puzzling behavior and bizarre advice. They’re caught
somewhere between "pinhead" and "normal", kind of like the children of immigrants, juggling "old country" and American values.
( Zerbina: "Turn that Metallica CD up, Fuelrod! I can still hear myself think!!"
Fuelrod: (peeved) Yes, mother.")
TOP



Vizeen is a feisty, independent woman in her twenties. Under her pierced, "rebel" exterior, she has a sweet nature-- though she’d never consciously reveal it. She works in the lounge of the Lucky Strike Lanes on Hollywood Boulevard where she entertains the bowlers with a medley of radio and TV commercial jingles. She’s working her way "up" in show business, always hoping to be discovered. She’s optimistic and isn’t easily discouraged. She has a poignant, sympathetic nature and , in many ways, is the "sanest" of the group. Vizeen’s kind of attracted to Griffy--in spite of his judgmental nature-- but she has a special place in her heart for Zippy, who happily listens to all her "extreme" ideas on UFOs, reincarnation, crop circles and thrift shop accessorizing. She has a lot in common with Shirley McClaine-- very bright , but a bit nuts on the inside.
TOP




Zippy’s twin, yet diametrically opposite, brother. Lippy dresses in black and thrives on misery-- his own as well as others. He only enters Zippy’s life for one purpose: to try and make him unhappy. Good luck, Lippy.
TOP


Two guys and a gal, overeducated and underfed. They work for Griffy,cruising the streets of L.A., correcting the behavior of insensitive louts. Their mission in life: to point out to the rest of us our shortcomings and/or lapses in good taste.
TOP


Zippy’s celebrity sniffing pooch, Starhound, can pick up the scent of Dom DeLouise at fifty yards. He and Zippy go for "starsearch" walks around Hollywood. Loni Anderson, look out!
TOP


The Toadettes pop in and out of Zippy’s world as symbols of mass gullibility. They live to be swayed. Between all two hundred of them, they have half a mind. The Toadettes worship Mr. Toad like a god and rarely stray very far from their pond in Griffith Park.
TOP


Indistinguishable from one another ("I’m one! I’m the other!"), Zeep ‘n Peep are Zippy spin-offs determined to achieve major merchandising clout. They’re all packaging and no content. They "appear" to Zippy occasionally in his fur-lined fallout shelter.
TOP


An enormous dachshund head mounted on a pole, the Doggie is the last remaining vestige of a defunct fast food chain ("Doggie Diner"). It stands on a corner of town Zippy walks by almost every day. Zippy and the Doggie have long talks about human emotions and stuff.
TOP


Ebb and Flo are Zippy’s parents. They may have sold him to the circus sideshow when he was born. Who remembers? They live in Florida. When they drop in (and after Zippy has checked their picture ID), Fuelrod and Meltdown get ready for some unconditional love. Be patient, FR and Melty. Very patient.
TOP


Mr. Toad’s family. They live above Zippy and Zerbina. Their midnight furniture-throwing contests are a constant source of entertainment to the pinheads below.
TOP


Zippy’s erstwhile cat, Dingy (at least in Zippy’s mind) is always demanding a Cuban cigar and a dry martini. Dingy’s catch phrase: "Cats are not cute!"

TOP

Home | Contact | Books & Comics | Daily & Sunday Strips | Original Art Gallery
Today's Strip | This Just In | Newsroom | Understanding | Roadside | Help

Contents copyright © 2002-2010 Bill Griffith
Site Management by NetNoise Design Group