The caped psychopath gets flown to Ashtabula

Today’s Zippy:

Not the Caped Crusader — that would be Batman, a.k.a. the Dark Knight — but a caped psychopath, who bursts through windows in pursuit of evil-doers.

Of course, as a Z-person, I admire Z-Man’s name (Superman/Batman crossed with Zorro). And I’m entertained by the diction (“there was trouble afoot” — when I think about how I use afoot, I scant out very quickly — and “enough of your” whatever, both of which sound a bit old-fashioned and formulaic, like quotations from old books you can’t quite recall). And then there’s Ashtabula, Ohio.

Bill Griffith no doubt chose Ashtabula for its name (he’s fond of funny placenames), but for me, and maybe also for him, there’s the wonderful echo of a famous piece of bad poetry, “Ashtabula Disaster” by Julia A. Moore, “the Sweet Singer of Michigan”, which begins:

Have you heard of the dreadful fate
Of Mr. P. P. Bliss and wife?
Of their death I will relate,
And also others lost their life;
Ashtabula Bridge disaster,
Where so many people died
Without a thought that destruction
Would plunge them ‘neath the wheel of tide.

(The full poem is available many places, for instance here.)

This cries out to be set to music (“Ashtabula bridge disaster / Where so many people died” would make a fine tragic chorus), though its metrical eccentricities make that a challenge.

Moore sang of death (especially infant death) and destruction (the Great Chicago Fire did not escape her attention). Some Wikipedia notes on the actual bridge disaster:

The Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster (also called the Ashtabula Horror or the Ashtabula Bridge Disaster) was a train disaster caused by bridge failure in far northeastern Ohio on December 29, 1876, at 7:28 p.m. It was the worst rail accident in the USA until the Great Train Wreck of 1918.

… The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway Train No. 5, The Pacific Express, left a snowy Erie, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of December 29, 1876. As The Pacific Express plowed through the snow and crossed a bridge over the Ashtabula River, about 100 yards (90 m) from the railroad station at Ashtabula, Ohio, the passengers heard a terrible cracking sound. In just seconds, the bridge fractured and the train plunged 70 feet (21 m) into the water.

Plunged ‘neath the wheel of tide. If only Z-Man had been there.


One Response to “The caped psychopath gets flown to Ashtabula”

  1. At the sign of the Z « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] character Zippy the Pinhead, as himself or as the caped psychopath Z-Man in a Zippy cartoon, here. And, as Rod Williams noted, Zorro, who makes his signature, the sign of Zorro, with three flicks […]

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