Cartoonist Bill Griffith on “Nancy” and “Zippy the Pinhead”

9th February 2024

The Nancy comic strip is one of the most iconic and influential strips out there. It’s a comic snob’s favorite, but you also don’t have to be a super fan to love it. Cartoonist Bill Griffith is a comic nerd who loves Nancy. Last year he released a graphic biography about the creator of Nancy. It’s called Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller. It’s a beautiful appreciation of Bushmiller’s work. Bill Griffith joins the show to talk about the book and the long-lasting impact that Nancy has had on comics.

Episode notes

(Photo: Abrams ComicArts)

Ninety years ago, the comic character Nancy was born. One of the most iconic and recognizable comic characters out there. 

You’ve more than likely seen her at some point. Nancy is an eight year old girl who wears a red skirt, black sweater vest, and a red bow in her distinctive, dense, kind of frizzy short hair.

Nancy is an enduring strip that’s older than Peanuts, the Beetle Bailey and Dennis the Menace.

The strip is beloved by connoisseurs of the genre. It’s one of the most broadly successful strips ever. It’s a comic snob’s favorite, but you also don’t have to be a super fan to love it.

Bill Griffith is a big Nancy fan. He is a newspaper comics artist himself, having written Zippy the Pinhead for fifty years. And he got turned on to the magic of Nancy decades ago by a fellow alternative comics luminary – Art Spiegelman. 

Griffith’s new book is a graphic biography of the creator of Nancy. It’s called Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller. It’s a beautiful appreciation of Bushmiller’s work.

Bill Griffith joins the show to talk about the book and the long-lasting impact that Nancy has had on comics. He also gets into his work as a comic artist and shares some stories about his strip Zippy the Pinhead

You can check out Bill’s work on his website!

In this episode...

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  • Bill Griffith

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Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

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