Today graphic novel author Anne Elizabeth, who is also the RT BOOK REVIEWS Columnist on Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, shares a special look into the world of the comic character Ziggy.
In a rare interview, I spoke with Tom Wilson II, the son of Ziggy creator and the artist of the popular newspaper comic strip for the past few decades. “I took over for my dad years ago. I suppose it was a natural progression. I grew up with Ziggy who was like an older brother to me. He taught me a lot...” said Wilson. “Ziggy was a loner, a sad sack if you will, who was able to speak directly to the audience about his issues and upsets. He could look the world in the eye and impart his wisdom.” This candidness melted hearts of readers around the globe.
Ziggy has had a fascinating history. He was created by Tom Wilson I when he worked at American Greetings. “Dad said, ‘Ziggy just showed up one day,’” shared Wilson. He appeared in the greeting card company’s newspaper and the character quickly caught the imagination and interest of customers. In the early 1970’s, the character was picked up in additional print mediums and Ziggy slowly became syndicated in the comic pages of newspapers around the country. In the mid-1980’s, Tom Wilson II took over the strip full time.
This talented man honed his skill of writing pithy sayings in a game he played with his father called Save Ziggy! “When I was a child, Dad would often take me to Big Boy for breakfast where I’d order chocolate chip pancakes. He’d flip over the paper placemat, take out his pen, and draw a square. Inside he’d depict Ziggy and then he’d ask me what happened next. The tricky part, and this was his one rule, was that I couldn’t give him my first answer as he thought those immediate responses were ‘low-hanging’ fruit. Instead, I had to dig deep and give him the second or third thoughts. It was hard... That first idea always seemed so great to me, but Dad’s game taught me how to give something greater to Ziggy and the world. I’ll never forget it,” said Wilson. “As a creator it is a responsibility to give something positive to your work. My advice to aspiring artists and writers is honor your passion. The key in the door that opens up more memories and stuff going on is valuable...emotion and creativity are linked. Hold true to this, you create because it’s part of you...it’s a positive thing.”
Wilson has also written a memoir, “Zig-Zagging” about his experiences with Ziggy and how it affected him as both an adult and child, too. If you’d like additional information, please check out Wilson’s website at www.ziggy.com.
On a personal note, I’d like to share what Ziggy meant to me. He was a great comfort. When I was very little my father would pull me onto his lap and read the funny pages of the newspaper, and when I was older I remember the order forms from school where I could order the Ziggy books. I even had a stuffed Ziggy doll I used to sleep with (I lost it at camp years ago.). To me, Ziggy represented endurance, kindness, and an ability to rise above the trials and hardships of life. To all those fans and readers out there, why do you like Ziggy, now or as a child? What does he or did he represent to you? Leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Anne Elizabeth
For more from Anne Elizabeth, be sure to check out her interview with debut graphic novel author Kim Harrison who already has a following for her paranormal tales, in the July issue of RT BOOK REVIEWS!