'Zippy' finds 'Coneheads' are too close to the point

July 28, 1993|By Joan Smith | Joan Smith,San Francisco Examiner

Is Zippy the original Conehead?

"Tell me th' story again, Griffy!! Tell me th' story!!!" Zippy the Pinhead implored his creator's cranky alter ego in a June 28 strip.

The story, according to San Francisco cartoonist Bill Griffith, who created the famous underground comic in 1970, is that the sketch about a family of pointy-headed aliens who say they're from France, which first appeared on "Saturday Night Live" in 1977 and is now a major motion picture, was inspired at least in part by Zippy and Dan Aykroyd has never 'fessed up to the fact.

"The reason I know," says Mr. Griffith, "is that in 1978 two good friends of mine, Aline Kominsky (the cartoonist wife of the famous underground cartoonist R. Crumb) and Jeff Rund, who was publishing comics in New York at the time, had dinner in New York with Anne Beatts and another of the writers for 'SNL' -- I believe Aykroyd was there -- and they were freely admitting that Zippy was an inspiration . . ."

"Of course, Aykroyd has always denied it. But it was the same year John Belushi sent Zippy a handwritten letter asking him to host an upcoming 'SNL.' I took it as a gag and wrote back as Zippy demanding a dressing room filled with Ding Dongs and taco sauce and never heard anything."

Mr. Aykroyd, through his publicist Susan Patricola, denied that the Coneheads were in any way related to Zippy.

Meanwhile, "The Coneheads" screen debut has Zippy in a dither. In the June 28 strip, Zippy cried out plaintively, "Th' Bow!! And th' EIGHT HAIRS! Only I have th' Bow! And th' Eight Hairs! Only Zippy!! Me! Me!!" Last Tuesday, confronted with a bunch of "Conehead" fans in conical headpieces, Zippy seemed to be softening toward his pinhead cousins. But by Sunday, Zippy will be so distraught over the slight he will end up in a fistfight with Mr. Aykroyd.

Mr. Griffith is more sanguine. "I don't think it's a direct ripoff and I'm feeling neither irate nor litigious, just vaguely miffed," says the San Francisco cartoonist, whose strip appears in more than 100 newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun.

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