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Ask the Experts: Author/ Graphic Artist Bill Griffith

Coney Island USA Events

Ask the Experts: Author/ Graphic Artist Bill Griffith

Saturday, June 1, 2019 - 5:00pm

Included with Coney Island Museum Admission, $5 for Adults, $3 for Seniors, Kids (under 12) and residents of  Zip Code 11224. Free for members of Coney Island USA! Purchase tickets at the door.

“The underlying message of Nobody’s Fool? I get it—underneath our grandiose opinions of ourselves we’re all pinheads and freaks! Nobody’s Fool is boffo! The best graphic novel of the year!”
—R. Crumb

In 1971, Bill Griffith created his classic comic strip Zippy the Pinhead, syndicated by King Features in more than 100 newspapers. Griffith’s inspiration for Zippy came from the cult classic film Freaks, produced in 1932 by MGM, which featured a circus where all of the sideshow performers were real, not actors. Schlitzie Surtees (1901–71), aka Schlitzie the Pinhead, was a standout star in the film, and Griffith became fascinated with the real, legendary career of this singular performer, who started out in small town carnivals, was a fixture in Coney Island’s legendary sideshows, and eventually ended up performing with the Ringling Brothers Circus.

In researching Schlitzie’s life, Griffith has tracked down primary sources and archives throughout the country, as well as conducting interviews with those who worked with him and had intimate knowledge of his personality, his likes and dislikes, how he responded to being a sideshow “freak,” and much more. The result is the exhaustive, celebratory, definitive, first-ever history of Schlitzie: Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead (Abrams ComicArts; March 19, 2019; ISBN: 978-1-68335-452-9). In this original graphic novel, Griffith offers a unique look into Schlitzie’s world, providing a measure of dignity to his legacy and introducing his popular culture contributions to a new generation of readers.

Bill Griffith photo by Diane Noomin.


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