Ziggy (comic strip)
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Ziggy and his dog Fuzz
|Author(s)||Tom Wilson, Tom Wilson II|
|Current status / schedule||running daily|
|Syndicate(s)||Universal Press Syndicate|
|Genre(s)||humor, gag cartoon, gag-a-day|
Ziggy is an American cartoon series created by Tom Wilson, a former American Greetings executive, and distributed by Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate. Since 1987, his son, Tom Wilson II has taken over writing and drawing the comic strip.
Ziggy is a diminutive, bald, trouser-less, barefoot, almost featureless character (save for his large nose). He is often drawn in just his shirt with no pants on, though nothing inappropriate is ever seen. He lives in a simple house with a garden, and he is often seen working at an office job, at which, his foibles often reflect the absurdities that many readers encounter on a daily basis.
On the name Ziggy, Tom Wilson Jr. noted:
"the name Ziggy derived from his father's school experience of being the last alphabetically. When a new classmate arrived with a last name beginning with "Z," the idea took root with the friendly sounding "y ending, such as Billy or Tommy. "Ziggy is a last-in-line character," the son said in a phone interview. "The last picked for everything and kind of a lovable kind of loser character.""— Tom Wilson II
Ziggy is seen throughout the years as an animal lover, and he is the owner of a number of pets, including a dog, a cat, a parrot, and a duck, all of whom seem to possess some anthropomorphic qualities. For example, in a strip written in the 2000s, his pet fish and his pet cat, named Sid, expressed noticeable displeasure with their owner because he told them that he ate catfish for dinner the night before. Despite them often playing a part in Ziggy's mishaps and misadventures, the love and affection he gives to and receives from his animals is often very different than his interactions with the various human beings he encounters during his days. Tom Wilson often juxtaposed Ziggy's human interactions with his animal interactions for comedic and emotional effect .
One of the great appeals of the comic strip is how Ziggy himself deals with the endless stream of misfortunes which befall him on a daily basis. The character is frequently depicted in surreal or arbitrary situations that allow the reader to relate to Ziggy's misfortunes and his take on life. For comedic effect, the strip often mines typical comic strip pop culture territory, such as computers, dating, office relationships, pet ownership, customer service, and many of the other perils of modern life. Since the strip has been in existence for almost 50 years, Ziggy has experienced the waves of societal and technological change that have swept through our culture in the last five decades. For instance, early strips show him using rotary phones, while strips put out in recent years displays Ziggy's adoption of modern technology like cell phones and flat screen TVs.
Ziggy first appeared in the 1968 book collection How Do You Do, published by American Greetings. The strip began in 15 newspapers in June 1971, and that number eventually ballooned to over 600 publications. The animated 1982 Christmas television special Ziggy's Gift, which contained the Harry Nilsson song "Give, Love, Joy", won an Emmy Award. Following years of preparation, in 1987 the strip was taken over by Tom Wilson's son, Tom Wilson II.
Ziggy, nameless at his conception, has been visible in some form or another since the mid-1960s. Greeting card writer Tom Wilson first drew a Ziggy-like character as an elevator operator offering political commentary in editorial cartoons, but unfortunately for him, no one would syndicate it. Ziggy eventually appeared in an American Greetings gift book, "When You're Not Around," that caught the eye of Kathleen Andrews, a founder of the fledgling startup Universal Press Syndicate that badly needed a popular comic to keep it afloat. A deal was struck, a name was given and Ziggy was born .
Ziggy is also notable for the high amount of merchandise and promotional material with his likeness on it. There have been annual calendars produced throughout the years, as well as various greeting cards, books, dozens of plush dolls, collectables, holiday-themed toys, promotional items, placemats, ornaments, messenger bags, pillowcases, brooches, posters, and cake tins, among a vast number of others.
In 2002, Ziggy became the official spokescharacter for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Tom Wilson I died on September 21, 2011 at the age of 80. His son, Tom, continues to produce the strip, as of 2017.
Ziggy in Popular Culture
•Ziggy was featured in an episode of Seinfeld, in which Elaine mistakenly and subconsciously submits a Ziggy cartoon as a New Yorker cartoon. This fact is later discovered by her boss, J. Peterman, who the viewer finds out owns an extensive archive of Ziggy cartoons.
• In Cheers, Woody Harrelson’s character, Woody, breaks into hysterical laughter after reading Ziggy.
• On TV’s 30 Rock, the character Jack Donaghy (Alec Balwin) learns the names of various celebrities and coworkers by using flashcards. A scene shows him quickly going through the cards and calling out names, including “Ziggy from the comic strip Ziggy.”
- Smithers once took the funny pages from Homer and read to Burns a Ziggy strip. When Ziggy goes to the repair shop, there's a sign on the doorbell reading "out of order". Burns then laughed and said "Ziggy, will you ever win?".
- Ned Flanders prayed to God thanking him for Ziggy comics, little baby ducks and Sweating to the Oldies volumes 1, 2, and 4.
- When Homer was in love with Mindy he said he bet she thinks Ziggy's gotten too preachy, too.