Comic Strip Funnies: Ziggy

The Sunday paper for many youngsters of my generation meant looking at the ads from stores like Toys R Us, Hills Department Stores and Children’s Palace, allowing us to see all the new action figures, board games, dolls and video games that were awaiting us on the shelves, and it would also alert us to toys that were on sale that we could alert our parents to. The other major part of the Sunday paper was the Funnies, you know those classic comic strips that brought joy to your Sunday mornings as the antics of Garfield, Peanuts, Family Circus, Dennis The Menace, Andy Capp, Far Side, Blondie, and Marmaduke brought the entertainment as you ate your breakfast of cereal or bacon & eggs. Here in Ohio where I grew up, the paper is Dayton Daily News and my must read strips consisted of Peanuts, Andy Capp, Garfield, Blondie and for some reason Ziggy…yep Ziggy was a comic strip that I loved, and it’s odd as I had always seen Ziggy more as an old person comic strip but something about the little guy who always seemed like the world was out to get him made me a fan. So let’s get a cup of coffee or maybe a glass of milk and open up the good old Rotten Ink Daily News Paper and find the Rotten Funnies and see what silly humor Ziggy has for us.

Ziggy is a short balding man who lives along with his dog Fuzz, cat Sid, his pet Rock, a fish, duck named Wack and Parrot in a small house with a garden. He is a likable guy who seems to always have things go wrong for him and people around him are super rude and treat him badly…but Ziggy, while down and depressed at times, takes it all in stride and will in the end always look at the brighter side of life. Ziggy is single and loves his animals and enjoys his days off and spending time outdoors or even reading a good book. One of his best friends is a seagull that he hangs out with at the beach and it’s clear as day he cares about his animals a lot! Ziggy is also a sucker and easily tricked by people and is often taken advantage of. Ziggy is a hard worker who is a lovable character who is truly a classic Sunday Comic Strip Character.

Thomas Albert Wilson was born on August 1, 1931 in Grant Town, West Virginia and later his parents moved him to Uniontown, Pennsylvania and that’s were he spent his childhood. In 1950 he started doing advertising layouts for the Uniontown newspaper for a short time. Wilson then joined the U.S. Army from 1953-1955 and also went to the Art Institute Of Pittsburgh where he graduated from also in 1955. Also in 1955, he got a job at American Greetings as a designer and by 1958 he was Creative Director. He became an instructor for a year at Cooper Union and Art and Science institute from 1961-1962. In 1968 he created the character Ziggy, and by 1971 it was a syndicated comic strip thanks to Universal Press Syndicate and started out in only 15 newspapers but quickly grew to over 600 papers running the comic strip. In 1978 Wilson became Vice-President Of Creative for American Greetings, showing that the company knew they had a talented and creative mind on staff and needed to promote him to tap his ideas. During his time at American Greetings he also was responsible for being the head of teams that created the likes of Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. In 1982 Wilson won an Emmy for the “Ziggy’s Gift” animated Christmas Special that aired on ABC, a true classic special that was later released on VHS and DVD for home media collectors. By 1987 Tom Wilson turned the Ziggy comic strip over to his son Tom Wilson Jr. who is still working on the strip to this day for both papers as well as online. Wilson got and beat lung cancer, but sadly died of pneumonia on September 16, 2011 at the age of 80 in Cincinnati Ohio. While Thomas Wilson is gone his legacy of creative projects including Ziggy will live on forever! Below is a picture of Thomas Sr., Ziggy and Thomas Jr.

Ziggy became such a lovable and popular character that in 1982 a TV Special was made called “Ziggy’s Gift” that was an animated short that played on ABC on December 1st as one of their Christmas Specials. The cartoon as Ziggy as a street Santa collecting money and the world around him is filled with crooked people who are lying and stealing from everyone as Ziggy is the only honest person who really wants to help. The Special won an Emmy Award in 1983 for Outstanding Animated Program. The film was released on VHS and DVD but sadly is now out of print. You can find the special on YouTube from time to time. Very cool animated special that features one of the best comic strip characters in a truly heartwarming Christmas animated tale.

Ziggy was a true icon of early American Greetings as his image was used on so many other items besides greeting cards and the comic strip. Ziggy has been on T-Shirts, Drinking Glasses, Board Games, Paperback Books, Stuff Dolls, Mini Figures, Stickers, Buttons, Penny Banks, Home Media, Posters, Christmas Ornaments, Wrapping Paper and so much more! Ziggy was and still is somewhat of a true icon of Comic Strips! And over the years I know myself I have had the books, dolls and even a mini figure. And for some reason when I think of Ziggy I think of my Grandparents on my mom’s side.

Real quick I want to also share a picture of a cool mini figure of Ziggy that I got from Game Swap in Kettering that is Ziggy with an ice cream cone and the ice cream has fallen off the cone and onto his foot! These little PVC figures are really cool and I can remember by Aunt Donna having some of them when I was a kid. So if you like Ziggy make sure to get yourself one of these little figures that you can find on Ebay and Etsy most of the time pretty cheap.

So let’s crack open some of these Paperback Books that features Ziggy for this update about this classic comic strip character. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and an Etsy seller for having these books in stock. I want to remind you all that I grade this book on a standard 1-4 star system and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you are ready, let’s see what Ziggy has in store for us in these books.

Ziggys Of The World Unite!  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price $1.50     Signet   # ? of ?

This book is tons of one-page stories featuring the one and only Ziggy having silly and lovable adventures! So while I cannot cover each one I will select 10 of my favorite strips in no real order. First I would pick were Ziggy is going to pop some popcorn over the stove and because nothing can go right for him the popcorn gets out of control and buries him under a mountain of the tasty snack. The second has Ziggy at a restaurant called Mom’s Place and is having to stand up for himself as Mom wants him to eat all he can eat! Lucky third has Ziggy at a palm reader who is having a hard time finding his lifeline! The fourth has Ziggy wearing sunglasses and claims that celebrities wear them so people don’t know who they are, and he wears them so people don’t know what he is not. The halfway point is this fifth choice that has Ziggy standing in front of an antique shop looking at toys that he had as a child and how depressing it is that the toys of his youth are called antiques now. Number six has Ziggy’s car missing it’s wheels after it ran out of gas and he is returning from the gas station with gas…some one robbed Ziggy! Seventh has Ziggy taking out the trash and right before be can drop the bag it busts and the trash is all over the ground. I picked for eight has Ziggy being held up at gunpoint by the teller at the teller desk at a bank! Number nine has Ziggy being bullied by an ice cream truck driver as he is forcing Ziggy to eat chocolate ice cream and like it! And the last pick aka ten has Ziggy running from the movie theater watching JAWS as he was way to scared of the shark!

When reading “Ziggys Of The World Unite!” I found myself feeling like a kid again sitting reading the Sunday Funnies and seeing what Ziggy was up to or should I say lack of up to. Many of these jokes and situations got a chuckle out of me, but to be honest many of them also fell flat and were very dated…like the talking margarine that was based on the now outdated and modern forgotten Parkay commercials, but some things that would be looked at as dated worked and still holds an impact like Ziggy being scared out of his mind by JAWS as still to this day many people are terrified of this film. The odd thing about this paperback is that none of Ziggy’s animals are shown and most of the humor really does come at Ziggy’s expense as he is treated poorly by everyone around him, it makes you really feel bad for him as he is the worlds doormat! This is a great quick read and does a great job of showcasing who Ziggy is and what this comic strip is about. But I am not done and would like to at least cover one more Ziggy paperback for this update!

This Book Is For The Birds ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price $1.25     Signet   # ? of ?

This book is tons of one-page stories featuring the one and only Ziggy having silly and lovable adventures! So while I cannot cover each one I will select 10 of my favorite strips in no real order. First: has Ziggy sitting with a bird watching book by his side starring blankly at his pet bird that alerts him that this is not what they mean by bird watching. Two: a line is at the doctor’s office for shots to protect your family from the swine flu and Ziggy has all his animals with him, as the Doctor with the needle looks shocked and disheveled. Three: Ziggy is walking his pet duck as a construction worker is shouting at him to DUCK as a wrecking ball is heading toward Ziggy who alerts him that his duck is nice. Four: Has Ziggy sitting on a beach asking the a seagull where all the people are, and the bird alerts him they have stopped coming after Jaws was released in theaters. Five: Ziggy is walking under a branch and a bird poops on his head, and he says some people are lucky and the birds sing for them! Six: Ziggy is on the phone with his duck calling a radio station and asking them to play the song Disco Duck again. Seven: Ziggy is in a towel and is standing among turkeys and says he thought the sign said Turkish Bath! Eight: It’s snowing outside and a bird is in a nest and is cold as Ziggy is bringing the bird a hot water bottle to keep it warm. Nine: Ziggy has birdseed and is feeding birds and reminds us all to be kind to all the birds. Ten: Has Ziggy playing cards with his friends and his parrot is telling them what cards he has in his hand!

This paperback features Ziggy and all his animal family and friends as he tries to make it through life with them by his side. This is very heavy on Ziggy with birds and shows his friendship with a Seagull as well as his life with a pet parrot and duck and is all pretty funny and lighthearted stuff. I will say that in this book Ziggy gets pooped on several times by birds and those are funny and yet also very sad as he gets it a lot even though he is super friendly to birds and feeds them and takes care of them. His pet duck is pretty funny and seems to be a goofball just like him and just enjoys his little life. I also like how the Seagull at the beach and Ziggy seem to share deep talks, but also have time to talks silly topics. This paperback book is really good and showcases the more warm side of Ziggy as he is a true lover of animals as they besides pooping birds at least treat him well. If you like Ziggy and more heartwarming loser humor this one is for you! Check out some artwork below to see the style of Wilson and the humor of Ziggy.

I cannot help it for some reason I really enjoy Ziggy and his life is out to get him humor, I think the thing that works for Ziggy is the fact that he really is just a likable guy who always seems to be on the wrong side of the world. Well I think its time we put away the Rotten Funnies and I tell you what the next update will be about and it’s a good one in my opinion as we will be leaving the world of comics books and head into the world of sports as I will do a countdown of the best main active mascots of MLB! That’s right a countdown that will feature the sport of baseball’s best of the best, well in my opinion! So until next time read a comic strip or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update as I take you all out to the ballgame.

Garfield vs. The Ghost Pirates On Halloween Night!

October is almost here. The air is turning cold, and the ghouls and ghosts are gearing up to run the streets in preparation of Halloween, which is only slightly over a month away! For this third countdown to Halloween update I wanted to take a look at something that I owned as a kid. The TV special it was based on was something I watched every year, and of course I am talking about “Garfield Halloween Adventure” that was shown on local TV and was something I truly had to watch when on. Garfield is a comic strip character I grew up reading in the Sunday Funny Papers; next to Peanuts it was a must. I also grew up watching all of his TV specials as well as his regular cartoon series. While I love the toon “Garfield and Friends,” the specials all hold a special place in my heart. Not to mention I also would buy his books, and between my brother and I, we had many of his toys and stuff animals. Garfield really is an iconic character who for the most part has withstood the test of time, and it’s with great pleasure that on this update we not only get one step closer to Halloween but also take a look back at things from my childhood. So get a costume on and let’s go trick or treating with Garfield and Odie.

On October 30th 1985 CBS premiered the 24-minute “Garfield Halloween Adventure,” which combined two of my favorite things Halloween and Garfield! My brother Bryan and I were glued to the TV and watched with pure delight as the cartoon special brought some scares and lots of entertainment. We also made sure to tape it on Beta and watched it all the time year round. The best part of this airing was that it was paired with the very classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and made for the perfect Halloween season viewing. I can also remember many of the kids on the playground chatting about it, and everyone flipped when the comic strip book adaptation of it was offered in the Scholastic Book Club order form, with almost every kid I knew ordering it. The cartoon also did well in the TV ratings and almost all critics loved and praised it making it a staple for the holiday up until 2015 when it was finally taken off the schedule for good. The special also won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program and was the third Garfield special to win it, showing that he was one of the 80’s most popular cartoon characters. After its airing, the special would go on to be released on VHS and DVD and still is a well loved classic Halloween TV special.

So at this point I am sure you’re ready to take a Halloween Adventure with that lasagna loving fat orange cat Garfield and his simple minded canine friend Odie. I know that I am as I have not read this comic strip book since I was a kid, and am looking forward to seeing if it holds up as I loved it when I was a kid and re-read it every Halloween up until I was a teen. This is in my opinion is a great way to gear up for October and is a perfect third update for our countdown to Halloween. Before we get our trick or treat bags ready, I need to remind you that I am grading this book on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to think Amazon for having this in stock and making this update possible. So lets costume up and go out with Garfield and see how much candy or even rocks we can get!

Garfield In Disguise # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price $5.95     Ballantine Books    # 1 of 1

Garfield is awoken by Binky The Clown on TV who screams and demands that all of the viewers exercise with him, and right as Garfield turns off the TV, he hears the words Free Candy and quickly turns it back on to find out that it’s Halloween! Garfield goes around the house under a bed sheet and scares Jon and Odie and even has a little breakfast before tricking Odie into going trick of treating with him so he can get double the candy. Garfield and Odie go to the attic and look through old clothes and items and decide to go as pirates when finding costumes in a chest. After stealing Jon’s lasagna dinner, Garfield and Odie head out and start trick of treating! As they wander the streets getting candy and being spooked by real life ghouls and ghost, they end up getting into a rowboat and by accident they lose the paddles and float until they land on shore.  The only house around is an abandoned one lit by a fire. Once inside, they warm themselves by the fire and are surprised by a very old man who warns them that the island is haunted and that the ghosts of pirates from a hundred years back will be back at midnight to claim their buried treasure! While Garfield and Odie are shaking with fear, the old man steals their boat and leaves them at the mercy of the coming ghost pirates! Garfield and Odie hide in a cabinet as the ghosts appear and bring up their hidden treasure, and when a sneeze alerts the ghosts who chase them out of the house, Garfield steals a ring from the treasure chests. He and Odie jump into the water and swim to shore. Once on shore they find their candy and the boat and head home only to be attacked by the ghost pirates who followed them home. Once Garfield returns the ring they disappear, and Garfield and Odie go home where Garfield shares the candy with Odie and Halloween comes to an end.

This comic strip book is a great mood setter for Halloween as it captures the playful nature of trick or treat and the spooky feeling of that night. Our story has Garfield and Odie going out for Halloween in order to get lots of free candy.  When Garfield gets greedy, he leads them to an old abandoned haunted house, and they are witnessed and stalked by ghost pirates who have returned after 100 years! As I said the feel and atmosphere of this comic strip book is fantastic and much like “Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” really captures the feel of Halloween. Garfield lives up to his normal behavior and is self-absorbed, self centered and always looking for food to gorge on, but while he is sarcastic, he also does have a caring and grateful side. Odie is your typical dog that is loyal, goofy and smart and several times in this adventure saves Garfield’s butt from danger. Jon is just around in this one, mostly carving pumpkins and tying to enjoy meals that his cat ends up stealing. The old man who once worked for the pirates some 100 years ago is creepy and seems to get joy scaring those who stumble into his old home, plus the Ghost Pirates are very much mean and scary but really just want their treasure. This comic strip book does justice to the made for TV cartoon special and does a great job of capturing the mood and only thing missing is the musical numbers. Jim Davis, who is the creator and mastermind behind the world of Garfield, does the art and story, and both are well done and show why Garfield has remained a popular comic strip character all these years. The cover as well is amazing and eye catching and has a real kid friendly Halloween look to it. If you enjoy Garfield and love Halloween, this is a great read and one that brought back lots of great memories of my youth, and this comic strip book held up well and is a great read. So check it out as well as the art from it.

I hope that this update has put you into the Halloween spirit like it did for me writing it! Made for TV Halloween specials are something that almost seems as if they are dying off as most broadcast stations only focus on their current shows and allow them to do a Halloween episode that most of the time are not very good with only a handful of series being able to pull it off. But for me just like “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” the Garfield Halloween Special is a one of my all time favorites and is one I suggest you watch every year. But now we have to leave the world of Garfield and the ghost pirates behind for our next update as we are now in full countdown to Halloween mode and our next one will have us looking at another in what I call “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” as we look at the killer Metalface and his film series Playing With Dolls! So until next time, read a comic or two, watch a cartoon or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bloody good time.