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Nobody's fool : the life and times of Schlitzie the Pinhead / Bill Griffith.

By: Griffith, Bill, 1944- [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Abrams ComicArts, 2019Copyright date: �2019Description: 248 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.Content type: text | still image Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781419735011; 1419735012.Subject(s): Schlitzie, 1901-1971 -- Comic books, strips, etc | Freaks (Motion picture) -- Comic books, strips, etc | Freaks (Motion picture) | Circus performers -- United States -- Biography -- Comic books, strips, etc | Sideshows -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Comic books, strips, etc | COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS / General | COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS / Literary | Circus performers | Sideshows | United States | 1900-1999Genre/Form: Biographical comic books, strips, etc. | Graphic novel. | Graphic novels. | Comics (Graphic works) | Biographies. | Comic books, strips, etc. | Comics (Graphic works) | Comic books, strips, etc. | Graphic novels. | History. | Graphic novels.DDC classification: 791.3092 | B Summary: "The story of Schlitzie's long career--from Coney Island and the Ringling Bros. Circus to small town carnivals and big city sideshows--is one of legend. Today, Schlitzie is most well-known for his appearance in the cult classic Freaks (produced by MGM of all studios in 1932 and directed by Tod Browning, his first feature after the horror classic Dracula), in which all of the sideshow performers were real, not actors. The making of Freaks and Schlitzie's role in the film is a centerpiece of the book. Freaks was also the inspiration for Zippy the Pinhead, now in its 31st year of newspaper syndication via King Features, and led to Griffith's 50-year cartooning career. In researching Schlitzie's life (1901-1971), Griffith has tracked down primary sources and archives throughout the country, including 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. This graphic novel biography is not exploitative, but instead humanizes Schlitzie by providing never-before revealed details of his life, offering a unique look into his world and restoring some dignity to his life and recognizing his contributions to popular culture"-- Provided by publisher.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Nobody's Fool follows the story of Schlitzie's long career--from Coney Island and the Ringling Bros. Circus to small-town carnivals and big-city sideshows--which is one of legend. Today, Schlitzie is most well-known for his appearance in the cult classic Freaks . The making of Freaks and Schlitzie's role in the film is a centerpiece of the book. In researching Schlitzie's life (1901-1971), Griffith has tracked down primary sources and archives throughout the country, including 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. This graphic novel biography provides never-before-revealed details of his life, offering a unique look into his world and restoring dignity to his life by recognizing his contributions to popular culture.

Includes bibliographical references.

"The story of Schlitzie's long career--from Coney Island and the Ringling Bros. Circus to small town carnivals and big city sideshows--is one of legend. Today, Schlitzie is most well-known for his appearance in the cult classic Freaks (produced by MGM of all studios in 1932 and directed by Tod Browning, his first feature after the horror classic Dracula), in which all of the sideshow performers were real, not actors. The making of Freaks and Schlitzie's role in the film is a centerpiece of the book. Freaks was also the inspiration for Zippy the Pinhead, now in its 31st year of newspaper syndication via King Features, and led to Griffith's 50-year cartooning career. In researching Schlitzie's life (1901-1971), Griffith has tracked down primary sources and archives throughout the country, including 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. This graphic novel biography is not exploitative, but instead humanizes Schlitzie by providing never-before revealed details of his life, offering a unique look into his world and restoring some dignity to his life and recognizing his contributions to popular culture"-- Provided by publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Griffith (Invisible Ink: My Mother's Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist) presents an in-depth biography, based on research and interviews, of Schlitzie the Pinhead, a sideshow performer widely known for his appearance in Tod Browning's 1932 cult classic film Freaks. Born with microcephaly in 1901, Schlitzie (who's real name is lost to history but may have been Simon Metz) was sold by his parents to a Coney Island sideshow and soon found himself traveling the country as the star attraction of a variety of circuses. Alternately billed as male or female, sometimes promoted as the missing link between modern man and their evolutionary ancestors or a holdover from vanished civilizations, Schlitzie is here affectionately portrayed as a kind, warm-hearted performer behind the showbiz bluster. His story raises serious questions about the essence of fame, exploitation, and even the subjective nature of what it means to live a happy, fulfilling life. VERDICT Griffith is renowned for his absurdist comic strip Zippy the Pinhead, inspired by Schlitzie's iconic image, and on some level this biography seems to be an attempt at restoring some dignity to a life he's mined for his own purposes. He succeeds wonderfully. © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Griffith (Invisible Ink) crafts an affectionate graphic biography of Schlitzie Surtees (possibly born Simon Metz, though this is uncertain), the real-life inspiration for Griffith's long-running Zippy The Pinhead strip. Set in American carnivals, Griffith's story depicts the history of freak show culture as well as an outline of Schlitzie's life (1901-1971) out on the circuit based on interviews and other source material, starting with the painful scene of him leaving his mother. Schlitzie, billed as everything from "Tik Tak the Aztec Girl" to "Julius, the Missing Link," would be ogled at by the audience for his deformities, prompted with simple questions by a carnival barker, and sometimes become furious when taunted. Unlike most of the adult performers in his shows (such as the "bearded lady"), he was mentally low-functioning, which required a variety of nurses, parent figures, and handlers to take care of him. Griffith details Schlitzie's involvement in the cult-classic film Freaks, which inspired Griffith to create the philosophical Zippy character. With dense cross-hatching and lively, expressive character design, Griffith's art straddles the line between absurdity and realism. Griffith gets at the central paradox at the heart of freak shows: while exploitative and demeaning, the shows created a loving, tight-knit community. The performers close to Schlitzie were fiercely protective and loving toward him. Much like in Freaks, the revelation found in this illuminating work is that the true monsters are the "normal" people who line up to laugh at or abuse Schlitzie. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Griffith's graphic biography of sideshow freak Schlitzie the pinhead is a captivating labor of love that integrates American sideshow history and segments of Griffith's life and research process. His fascination with Schlitzie, born Simon Metz (most likely) in 1901, began after seeing Tod Browning's banned and panned film, Freaks, when an art student. That interest spawned his Zippy comic strip its hero an amalgam of two pinheads, Schlitzie and Zip the What-Is-It? and ultimately this biography that could almost be considered an oral history. With a paucity of written material and many origin stories for Schlitzie in play, Griffith's account leans heavily on those who knew, worked with, or cared for Schlitzie. As a result, Schlitzie's sweetly childlike character and quirks radiate from the pages, especially in his yes, Schlitzie was a man, despite often being billed as a girl random outbursts and favorite phrases. He loved movie stars, hats, doing dishes, and fried chicken; and if he saw someone he liked, Schlitzie would ask, Is he married? These are the details that elevate Griffith's book to become something truly special. His black pen illustrations hold a wealth of detail, too. Representations of sideshow banners, handbills, and posters occupy many pages; wavy framed fantasy sequences are starkly contrasted with angular presentations of harsher moments in Schlitzie's life. It is an astonishing life, beautifully told. Or, as Schlitzie would say, it's boffo!--Julia Smith Copyright 2010 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

A graphic narrative illuminates the transformation of the real-life Schlitzie the Pinhead into the widely syndicated Zippy.Griffith (Invisible Ink: My Mother's Affair with a Famous Cartoonist, 2015) tells two stories here. The first is, as best as he could research, the life of a Bronx boy with an oddly shaped head and a childlike sunniness that would rarely diminish as he aged. When he was 8 or so, he was sold by his parents to a "traveling sideshow." As such sideshows became exceedingly popular within the circus industry, he went by various names and personas, generally exotic, occasionally femalee.g., "Darwin's Missing Link," "Last of the Incas" "Tik-Tak the Aztec Girl." He might have been lost to posterity if Hollywood hadn't beckoned, with director Tod Browning featuring him in the sensationally received and controversial Freaks (1932). During its preview, writes the author, "a lot of people got up and ran out. They didn't walk out. They ran out." It was decades before the film would be proclaimed a classicand a fledgling art student saw a midnight screening and found his career changed: "I'd just been handed subject matter,' " writes Griffith, who relates both Schlitzie's story and his own in the same large-paneled caricature that would mark his development of the "Zippy" strip. "Little did I know at the time," he writes, "but I'd just set myself on a lifelong career drawing my version of Schlitzie." The figure who had inspired him didn't fare so well, as circus popularity declined and freak shows faced legal challenges for exploiting the mentally impaired. Schlitzie was committed to a mental institution after being deprived of his way of making a living, but he was subsequently released to a former circus colleague. The internet belatedly aided Griffith's research, and he was able to connect with those who had known Schlitzie in his prime: "He could be a delightlike a happy child," remembered one. He died in 1971.A tender biographical tribute to an artist's inspiration. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.