Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pause Before the Claws

". . . Irreconcilable political differences! Y'see, Bubbles here isn't quite as fiscally conservative as I am! Our conversations tend to degenerate into shouting matches about alternative fuel sources and the pros and cons of the flat tax. Fix him or take him away."

A subtle touch: Look at the way in which Bitsy Pookums here regards his owner; It's a sidelong glance of absolutely unbridled hatred - the cold, slow-burning kind that cats are born with. The vet in turn regards the animal, adding up figures and considering the options available in her poor, underfunded institution. The place is a veritable meat grinder for abandoned animals.

Only Ziggy breaks the circle of apathy, completely unaware of the beautiful triangle of hate developing. In an attempt to achieve some kind of balance, the vet's stethoscope registers its disapproval by distancing itself as far away from that demon cat's knotted pelt as possible.

Finally, some of you may question the wisdom of Ziggy's hasty Henry VIII-style divorce from his feral foe. You would do well to consider the rodent situation in Ziggy's home:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cue "Mad World"

Ah, yes - the psychiatrist's couch - that old comedy standby. And what better way to work through your inner demons/phobias/crippling insecurities than by vending to what looks to be Freud's great great grandson.

And for one of Freud's posterity, you're making this far too easy, Ziggy. Elevators are plainly symbols of the womb. Elevator music parallels the screams of childbirth. It's your mother! She brought you into this world, full of hatred and despair! She formed your fleshy body, a prison for your anxiety and despair!

Needlessly dark diatribes aside, it's nice that this is the biggest thing on Ziggy's mind. You'll do alright, kid.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Safe Techs

Unless it broke again in the interim, it seems that Ziggy's toaster has been out of commission for nearly three weeks. Last time he got a philosophical beatdown and learned to forever avoid the complaints department of Windows Coming Out of Nowhere Inc. Today's he's being subject to a healthy dose of incompetence.

Life is hard enough without having to worry about communicable diseases between your appliances. Looks like the toaster caught a TTD*. Next time it will consider the importance of always using a proper surge protector and firewall before engaging in any unprotected networking.

I've got a million of 'em, folks!

* Technically-transmittable disease.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


In direct rebuttal to yesterday's comment that Ziggy appears to be lacking hobbies, today Ziggy puts the finishing touches on his own stone Golem, a personal simulacrum which will either aid in global domination or rise from the earth prepared to form larger, grander works of narcissistic art.

Either way, this is the happiest we've seen Ziggy for quite a long time. We're never quite as fulfilled as when we're molding the world into our own image. It's safe to say that there is no trespassing or vandalism involved in this piece of public art. Carving oneself in sixty-foot-high granite is a heckuva way to garner publicity.

Tomorrow: Ziggy's collection of mini-Ziggys carved out of soap, each wearing a tiny beret.

"Sometimes I wake up and think I should start wearing a beret, but I don't do it." - Mitch Hedberg

Saturday, April 26, 2008


"I really wish Mom didn't refer to herself in the third person. Or had never bought that answering machine."

I know I've made jokes about Ziggy's mental state in the past, but rest assured that no jokes about suicide hotlines, poison control or any other emergency service will mar this commentary. The strip makes it perfectly clear that Ziggy himself is fine, but his world is friendly but skewed - that's why I like the strip.

I think it's recursion - his old rotary phone obviously has no cradle with which to hold the receiver, leading to a phenomenon called the Customer Service Time Vortex, from which nothing but saccharine muzak can escape.

Quote of the day:

"Ziggy is a small, bald, pantless, almost featureless character (save for his large nose) who seems to have no job, hobbies, or romantic partner. . ." - Wikipedia

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bling Blong Blah

Ziggy's been a Hallmark staple for years, and I think we have another winner:

Ziggy, cheer up! So you've transcended sadness to full-blown apathy - there's still hope! You have a loving parrot, a sentient computer and a nice array of long-sleeved shirts. Hallmark loves you and you've been mistakenly hated by people who don't understand you for two generations! Uh. . . strike that last one.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Update: Ziggy Not Necessarily Going To Jail

It seems that Ziggy has managed to escape the IRS cesspool and is now working on his other, less-pressing debts. In retrospect, I think that I neglected one important fact yesterday: Ziggy doesn't seem to make any income on which to pay taxes. He had his "asking for directions" look on while considering those foreboding doors - a look that we've seen before.

So - time to balance your budget, Ziggy. In an effort to distract our attention from that mind-bending mess of calendar confusion coming out of your mouth, let's start by making a list of the ways that you're already saving money:

* Feeding pet parrot, dog and cat diet of peanut butter sandwiches, thus eliminating shopping to one grocery list.

* Not buying sorely-needed antidepressants, reducing medical expenses.

* Buying from underpriced pervert grocers.

* Limiting furniture to that needed on the current day (you might not know it, but peripherally-located furniture costs an arm and a leg for comic strip characters. The Get Fuzzy crew alone is shelling out $25k a year.

Looks like you're doing good, Ziggy. Get a part-time job and pay off those bills, then we'll start working on the antidepressant situation. Oh, how we miss the days before the darkness:

Come back, Ziggy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Death and Taxes

Some of you may be familiar with the short story "The Lady, or the Tiger?" - a lovely, frustrating little thought experiment involving a choice between two unknowns. More of you may be familiar with a horrible joke told by Martin Mull involving a choice granted by a group of unusually libidinous cannibals.

Nevertheless, I don't think Ziggy has much of a choice here. Income taxes were due a full week ago. Those doors are awfully close together, and even my twentysomething's experience with the government indicates that they both lead to the same place. It's an obvious joke, and an expensive one: I'm giving half of my income to tell it, and you are too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Wow - the local supermarket has really started taking things into their own hands. Here we find a mass grave of grapes, de-seeded one by one, bagged up and sold by the pound. Here's a shot of typical grapes for comparison:

Notice the way that they're - y'know - connected together? The manic, almost leering look in that produce guy's face states very clearly that he has no problem separating each and every grape from its mother stem, then removing each and every seed. Keep in mind that these seeds are pretty tiny.

So what you've got on hand is a pile of grapes, each and every one guaranteed to have been in the hands of Beefy McPervert up there, and very, very porous. And the worst part is that they must be a delicacy somewhere. You just know that there's gotta be well-aged wine oozing out of the bottom of that little cart.

(Something about this guy's explanation creeps me out. That knowing look in his eyes as he says "-Think about it!" . . .)

Monday, April 21, 2008

It Begins

Listen - since the invention of the internet, computers talk to each other - I mean really talk to each other. And not just about boring stuff like packets and SDRAM; they talk about us. So it's not unreasonable to assume that this is organized computer revenge stemming from Ziggy's brilliant Kasparovian chess victory last Friday. When everything in our home is controlled by computer, we're going to be even more screwed; we'll have to watch our computers' feelings lest they get put off and bump our shower temperature up a couple hundred degrees.

So, Ziggy - you might think this is bad, but wait until your HomeBot has the power to turn you into a honey-baked ham at the slightest whim.

My philosophically-minded friend pointed out some unintentional depth in Friday's commentary, starting with this comment of mine:
Every time a computer loses a chess game the robot war is prolonged by fifteen minutes, and Ziggy's so accustomed to criticism that he'll probably fall for it.
My statement (at least the first half) may be literally true: Jeff pointed out that the granddaddy killer robot in the Terminator mythos actually started out as a chess machine. If I could tap into the vast humor-writing potential of my subconscious I'd be unstoppable. Heaven knows that my conscious mind isn't tossing me any freebies.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Gee, I'd like to help you, but I burned out millions of years ago! What you see is merely a shadow!" The moral: Everybody who could help Ziggy is long dead. Tomorrow, Ziggy seeks assistance at the tomb of Mother Teresa.

The creator of Ziggy has said that the strip is an attempt to replicate the "little guy in a big world" feeling - something that it usually does well. Introducing outer space may be going too far, though - just how close is this star? Close enough to speak and be heard, or far enough not to fry the planet to charcoal briquettes? Remember, dwarf stars might look cute and cuddly, even apologetic, but they're not quite room temperature.

This is something of an odd strip, considering that knowledge of Carl's Jr. is required to understand it. I'm not even sure that this punchline makes sense to those with the appropriate context. Yes, Ziggy was rejected - we all expected that - but why? I'll write it off as a non sequitur and go to bed.

On an off-color note, what if the star isn't referring to the meal? What if the meal was an offering? Do the math.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Run, Ziggy!

What a sight - I won't go for the obvious joke and say that this guy's plainly not a quack, or he'd be holding a duck! (Pause for laughter.) I'm just above that sort of humor.

This medical practitioner obviously believes that it's better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission, and the sight of him lumbering toward Ziggy like so many Stay-Puft marshmallow men has a way of stirring a sense of primitive terror in my mind. Heaven only knows what this doctor has in mind, but I'll just say that when your MD starts deep-probing you with poultry, it may be time to find alternate sources of medical care.

Finals week means that these posts might be shorter for a few days, but I'd like to point out the possibility that this is merely a screenshot of the first boss fight for the upcoming Ziggy console game. Don't get too close to him.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ultimate Test of Cerebral Fitness

Years ago, Ziggy found himself in a similar situation. Lost in a dark netherworld (or maybe just sitting with the lights off), he once sought guidance from another machine, whose criticism was comparatively patronizing:

Even computers who aren't blessed with the gift of speech repeatedly trounce humans at everything that they both do, often leading to crushing loss of self-esteem, and, in extreme cases, the entirety of the human race being thrown into little stasis pods and used as batteries for Machinedom. That's in extreme examples.

But not here. It's obvious that Ziggy's winning, and the little monitor is engaging in a last-ditch effort to save his scuzzy skin (get it?). Something about the emphasis on "athletic!" and little beads of computer-sweat flying from the screen smacks of desperation.

Every time a computer loses a chess game the robot war is prolonged by fifteen minutes, and Ziggy's so accustomed to criticism that he'll probably fall for it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Grease in the Wheels of Apathy

The tendency when analyzing a strip like this is to make a wry comment about procrastination, or to criticize the mental state of one whose view of life is a constant series of things to avoid.

But that wouldn't be fair at all. Consider the following: Despite his trademark self-deprecation, Ziggy is such an overachiever that he gets up at around 12:20 in the morning, just as the sun is going down:

The sun outside is merely evidence that the days are getting longer; it's a sunset.

Furthermore, I know lazy, and lazy definitely isn't color-coordinating your pajamas or laying your slippers down in a neat little row, exactly as you'll need them in the morning. Granted, these could both be signs of obsessive-compulsion, but I'd prefer to think that Ziggy's actually highly motivated, as evidenced by the fact that he didn't just fall asleep wearing yesterday's T-shirt. And have you noticed how well he's made his bed? His nighttime terrors have barely ruffled the covers.

Viewed in this light, we're actually looking at a commentary on the importance of a healthy sense of humor. Heaven knows that none of us are as clever as this the moment that we rise from bed.

And, Ziggy - speaking of the morning routine: one of these might help with your flossing problem.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Proctor & Gamble's Got Me Wherever I Turn!

Yes! Best "Ziggy" of all time!

I confess that the sight of Ziggy's unfortunate entombment in oral hygiene products fills me with undiluted joy. But it's not just the image - there's something indescribably, maddeningly wonderful about the enormous When Animals Attack-style letters hovering over Ziggy's head: "DENTAL FLOSS MALFUNCTION"! Needless to say, this phrase ("DENTAL FLOSS MALFUNCTION") will be working itself into my daily vocabulary.

It's the little touches that make this one. The single strand of dental floss threading itself under his foot, through his mouth and around his back, then making the trans-Ziggy journey a good dozen more times before final running out of juice just after looping over his nose. The way his arms hang limply and ineffectively at his side, trapped by his self-woven web of floss. The way Ziggy can't quite manage his usual look of resigned, confused desperation because of the way the floss twists his mouth around.

But it's the caption that really sells the image. Imagine this comic without the caption. We see a sad, dysfunctional man whose morning routine involves regular brushes with death, standing alone in the washroom corner. But add "DENTAL FLOSS MALFUNCTION" to the mess and it's a reminder that, hey, life is funny. Funny for everybody except the guy whose morning near-maiming with simple consumer goods is even now being published worldwide.

But Ziggy's a nice guy, and we wouldn't want to see him suffer too much. You have to admit, he's taking it like a trooper. I'm tempted to think that the "caption" isn't a caption at all, but black paint that Ziggy has prepared for just this possibility. He's juuuust blocking the "STAND HERE" with his head. What other contingency areas has Ziggy prepared throughout the house?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Consulting The Floating Head of Christopher Walken

This may not fit strictly within the Ziggy canon, per se, but it is my experience that some problems can only be solved via the Floating Head of Christopher Walken. Watch the journey unfold:

Remember, when you need sense, and you need it now, consult the Floating Head of Christopher Walken.

Actually, one thing that kept me from dissecting the moral of this strip is that there actually is a basis for this one: the Grapple, a gagatrocious attempt at spraying grape flavor all over an apple and selling it for several times the price. The idea is that children will want to eat it, for the same inexplicable reasons that they eat Pixy Stix and Lunchables. File the Grapple with green ketchup and purple pizza (the latter existing only in my imagination).

I'm not in my right mind today - we'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Future Hazy - Please Try Again Later

The worst part is that this is what she saw.

I like this strip - something about the way the words all run together at the end gives it an impromptu air. And if the arcane soothsayer's words are to be trusted, it's implied that Ziggy may remain single for his entire life. If that's the closest that she can get to a future love experience, I'd like to suggest that Ziggy go all the way and try out the celibate lifestyle. Something about his appearance in this strip suggests that he'd make a good monk.

Of course, if Ziggy's going to become a monk, now would be a good time for him to start following Biblical counsel: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." - Exodus 22:18. Inspiring words if I've ever heard them. There may never be a better chance to blame the messenger while tasting sweet, sweet okey-dokey-in-the-eyes-of-the-Almighty revenge.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


In an attempt to brighten up what has been a week of unending darkness and fear, I offer this panel from Mar 23, 2007. Here Ziggy's expression is less crushing confusion than surprised embarrassment, and the people he deals with show a sense of humor and cheerfulness. And take a look at that Peppermint Patty doppelganger - I haven't seen such a sincere smile since the last time she showed up.

Actually, maybe Ziggy didn't even know that they made Sailor Moon underwear. Maybe there's a 14-year-old girl somewhere with a bag full of nothing but child-sized multicolored T-shirts. I mean, does this look like a guy who knows much about underwear?

Perhaps the expression on Ziggy's face is not embarrassment but a sudden realization. He's hard to read sometimes.

Toying With Our Lives

My First Sunday Ziggy!

We've already seen Ziggy's life made a game by candy manufacturers and his valid product warranties turned into a platform for unnecessary reminders of his mortality. Now Ziggy's mind must prepare for a higher level of ambiguity: betrayal by our elected officials. No longer is safety sacrosanct: Washington is now officially gambling with our lives.

Perhaps it's a misguided attempt to introduce suspense or excitement into the daily commute. The "Ziggy. . ." in the upper-left corner certainly seems to be setting the stage for some tension. Then again, perhaps it's an attempt to remind us of the citizen's dilemma in a state run amok with power. Nevertheless, it's apparent by Ziggy's hopeless expression that the previous stresses in his life have taken their toll. We have no doubt what he sees:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Cruel Nihilism of Context

Content no longer merely to stand and refuse service to downtrodden consumers, the Complaints Man has decided to go all the way, damaging the psyches of customers and ruining their day by providing some logical but unwanted context.

Look at the terribly smug way in which Complaints Man dispenses his despair. These Big Picture people aren't a hit in social situations, but they provide a much needed service; it's important to know that our random flailing attempts at goodness and happiness will eventually lead to nothing as all matter freezes to absolute zero for eternity in the final heat death of the universe.

I can't help but notice that Mr. "One-Day-You-and-Everybody-That-You-Know-Will-Be-Dead" has failed to internalize his own philosophy: not only did he go to work, but he put on a tie. Listen - if I have the final infinite stillness of all matter on my mind, I am not exacerbating the whole situation by putting on a tie.

Finally, is Big Picture Guy perhaps this guy's brother?

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Moment of Repose

At first glance, Ziggy seems to be rocking himself to madness, perhaps in response to yesterday's fruitless search for guidance. The bags under his eyes attest that he's been at it for most of the night, manically pondering the elusive nature of meaning as he and his parrot rock to oblivion*.

But that's only the first glance. The second glance is far more nirvanic. If we assume that the bags in Ziggy's eyes are caused merely by lack of sleep and not by crushing, abject melancholy, then this strip can be read as a communion between man and nature. Certainly the parrot looks pleased - it knows that true meaning can be found only in the context of a friend. And that's about as sentimental as I feel like getting today.

I have tried to render the moment of communion for you:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

How completely serene. Anybody else notice that the undersides of Ziggy's feet appear to be concave and have a tread pattern?

(Possible additional themes: Shhh. . . go pet a cat.)

* The "Rocking to Oblivion" tour! Three days only - get your tickets online at etc., etc.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Enlightment is a 20-Watt Bulb

Having battled a lifelong struggle with apathy and despair just below the threshold of self-loathing, Ziggy burns his life savings in a quietly desperate search for the last bastion of truth in the world. Unfortunately, he finds that the cartoon archetype of the wise mountain sage is no longer a certainty; like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the American Dream, this "guru" has succumbed to the empty charms of the hip, perky modern age - he no longer sets spiritually-weary travelers on the path to inner peace. This former seer's new peers are magazine columnists and cutthroat celebs, and the closest he will ever get to the mysteries of the universe is his new column opposite the horoscope.

Even as Ziggy treads on the man's beard, he ponders the long, long trek back home, the fallibility of role models and the shot glass in which he will keep his remaining faith in mankind.

(Possible additional themes: The correlation between terrain and meditational quality, Modern disillusionment in popular archetypes, Man's search for meaning in an uncaring universe)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Callous Promises

Ziggy finds himself in the path of a looming monolith of corporate anonymity - an impressionistic vending machine, whose empty visage serves only to project Ziggy's fears of corporate America back upon him. Faceless and full of beckoning promises, the device has been designed by indifferent strangers to penetrate the layers of bewildered confusion that serve as Ziggy's aura.

"No salesman will call," the machine promises. This is the least of his worries. He already knows that modern society can and will track you down. The greater question on his mind is this: what exactly is going to come raining through this slot when I give the Machine my fifty cents? Is the chance of experiencing some unspecified "candy" worth the possibility of asphyxiating in the blood of the oppressed working class? Ziggy jingles his two quarters self-consciously in his pocket and prepares to make a choice, a proverbial Pandora before her box.

(Possible additional themes: The machinization of the modern world, The deceptive powers of advertising, Shall we save or damn the world?)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Due Explanation: Why Ziggy?

This site came about in response to a mental turnaround of sorts that I've recently experienced. I never used to like Ziggy. I think that I used to lump it into the same category as exploitative schlock like The Born Loser or Cathy. Boy, was I wrong.

After reading the feature regularly I've grown to appreciate the little pantsless wonder. Once a week or so I'll see a fantastic, surreal strip - one that tops nearly everything else in the comics. Ziggy first caught my eye when I saw a strip featuring Ziggy's doctor, a manic gleam in his eye, saying "First we'll build up your strength for the x-rays!" as our protagonist sat terrified on an exam chair. The little hospital outfit he was wearing didn't vary much from his usual motif - just a different shade.

This one pushed me over the edge:

Ziggy lives in such an arbitrary universe, so strange and sad, that I can't help but to love the feature. In the only way I know how, I aim to expose the machinations of Ziggy, the great philosopher, the man-child who can say so much with nothing but a look of sad resignation and a favorite shirt.

So, stay tuned - it's going to be a fun ride.

EDIT: One more announcement - this is going to be a year-long project, after which I'll move onto something else. Whatever this turns into over the course of the next three hundred sixty-five some-odd days, I'll stick with it.

(adapted from previous remarks)

The Man in the Machine

Today, Ziggy experiences firsthand the sad abuses of the consumer culture, held hostage in this drab financial institution until such time as he can pony up enough cash to buy his freedom. I'd imagine that what follows plays out a bit like 2004's The Terminal, only without so many gift shops and restaurants to subsist upon. Ziggy, having dropped in to the bank merely for directions, will now finally be forced to resort to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle for which he is entirely unprepared. He will die cold and alone in the corner by the Skittles machine.

Judging by the guard's position, I'd like to imagine that he honks Ziggy's nose immediately after finishing his sentence.

(Possible additional themes: Abuse of authority, What it means to "escape")