zippy the pinhead
A tip o' the pin to Bill Griffith, who has for the second time honored the endangered 76 Balls with a visit from their pal Zippy. This strip also references our own Earl Ma, whose photo and video documentation of the 76 Balls of Honolulu and Los Angeles offers bittersweet cause for reflection in anyone who loves classic design.
We dig this rallying cry: NO NIX 76!
Hurrah for Bill Griffith, whose daily Zippy the Pinhead strip (running in about 200 newspapers today) "Unleaded Moment" features the titular hero communing with a 76 Ball that has some very reasonable concerns about its mortality.
Thanks to the miracles of the internet, you can enjoy the strip in color (with the surrealistic choice of a navy blue backdrop for the sphere) or classic black and white.
Bill reports that Zippy will be revisiting the 76 Ball campaign in at least one future strip. Zippy's attention was instrumental in helping to save the endangered Doggie Diner restaurant heads in the Bay Area, and we hope he can do the same for 76. Thanks, Zippy!
Acclaimed KNX reporter Michael Linder has a nice feature on the Save the 76 Ball campaign in his weekend blog. Click over to enjoy a very clever montage of images, or just read on. Thanks, Michael!
Pinhead to the rescue of giant 76 balls! You know — those orange and blue globes being uprooted from gas stations across the Southland while Los Angeles culture aficionados howl.
The branding switcheroo is fallout from ConocoPhillips purchase of Union 76. Flat signage in ConocoPhillips red is replacing the big orange balls which were designed by Ray Pederson for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The spheres have taken on urban treasure status among cultural preservationists who regard them as historic Jet Age flashbacks — like the Jetsonesque theme restaurant at LAX which also made its debut in ‘62.
This week, cartoonist Bill Griffith announced his “Zippy the Pinhead” comic strip is taking up the cause. Griffith’s passion for classic signs is legendary. We recently caught Zippy in print, chatting with the Felix Chevrolet sign at Jefferson and Figueroa. And, he’s got clout. Seen in over 200 newspapers, Zip’s strip is credited with saving the Bay Area’s Doggie Diner weiner dog signs from destruction.
Dogged determination by Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak is fueling the campaign. The duo publish The 1947 Project, one of our all-time fave explorations into Los Angeles’ colorful past. (Our KNX news story streams here.) More than 2,300 signatures from motorists threatening to boycott have been gathered at their Save the 76 Ball site. “If that ball goes, so does this customer!”
ConocoPhillips hasn’t backed down despite a steady stream of media attention to the cause célèbre. Even the BBC is onto gas station castration. Actor Michael Madsen (“Reservoir Dogs,” “Kill Bill”) told the Beeb, “There seems to be this driving force to tear down everything that’s a little old. These are things that were landmarks, a symbol that I remember from childhood.” Madsen says he tried to buy a ball but was told they are destined to be crushed. “What’s the point of smashing them and putting up flat signs?”
Indeed! Not to mention the way some of the balls magically morph into Halloween jack-o-lanterns every October. Three dollar gas, now this.
We are honored to report that cartoonist Bill Griffith, father of Zippy the Pinhead and champion of daffy signage (see: Doggy Diner) will be celebrating the endangered 76 Ball in a strip that will run in over 200 daily papers on July 24. Thanks, Bill and thank you Zippy! Even pinheads know how great the 76 Ball sign is... so why don't the suits at ConocoPhillips?