A free cartoonist in Paris

Today’s Zippy strip has Griffy (Bill Griffith’s counterpart in the strip) drawing up a cartoon storm in fin de siècle Paris, in competition with a disdainful local painter (call him PP, for peintre parisien):


Their dispute is about cartoons, in terms familiar to Griffy:

… but is it art?

(here, asked about cartoons). PP emphatically says no, calling them “gaudy daubings … dégoûtant!” — while Griffy returns the insult by referring to PP’s work as “post-fauvist, pre-cubist, elitist scribbling”, while Griffy’s own work “recognizes th’ absurdity of life”.

On the big question, see my 7/21/20 posting “But is it art? Two cartoon takes” — with an annotated list of my postings on the question.

PP’s work. In panel 3 we see a bit of a painting in progress, and it looks suspiciously like a detail from (“naive” painter) Henri Rousseau’s Le Rêve / The Dream (1910):

(#2) Lions, in detail from The Dream; cf.panel 3 of #1

The whole amazing painting:


Then Griffith throws in references to Gertrude Stein, The Katzenjammer Kids … and Alfred Jarry. From my 3/30/14 posting “Jarry at the diner”, a note on the writer and playwright Jarry, including this, from Wikipedia:

His texts present us with pioneering work in the fields of absurdist literature and postmodern philosophy.

The whole strip is suffused with the surreal, the absurd, and the dream-like, and with high culture intertwined with popular culture. From my 11/30/16 posting “Poet in Search of His Moose”, about collage artist Barry Kite:

The collages are parodic or surreal, and quite funny, combinations of elements from art history and from popular culture, with wry titles. Like Bill Griffith on art in Zippy the Pinhead, Kite shows great affection for the culture that he ransacks to create absurdist, countercultural works.

The title of this posting is a play on a song title. From Wikipedia:

“Free Man In Paris” is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It appeared on her 1974 album Court and Spark, as well as her live album Shadows and Light. It is one of her most popular songs.

… The song is about music agent/promoter David Geffen, a close friend of Mitchell in the early 1970s, and describes Geffen during a trip the two made to Paris with Robbie and Dominique Robertson. While Geffen is never mentioned by name, Mitchell describes how he works hard creating hits and launching careers but can find some peace while vacationing in Paris. Mitchell sings “I was a free man in Paris. I felt unfettered and alive. Nobody calling me up for favors. No one’s future to decide.”


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