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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
tales of toad _ Tales of Toad 2 _ Tales of Toad 3
Tales of Toad #1
Tales of Toad #2 Tales of Toad #3
Tales of Toad

1970-1973 / The Print Mint - Cartoonists Co-op Press
Bill Griffith had already visited San Francisco a couple times in the late 1960s before deciding to move from his home state of New York to the City by the Bay. During one of his visits in 1969, he'd sold Tales of Toad #1 to the Print Mint for a hefty advance of $1,000. Tales of Toad featured Mr. Toad, Griffith's first cartoon character, who had been born in the pages of Al Goldstein's Screw newspaper in 1968.

Griffith says Mr. Toad was loosely based on the toad character from the children's book Wind in the Willows. Griffith's Mr. Toad looks and talks like a human being and interacts in a world filled with normal humans, though nobody seems the least bit alarmed by the fact that he's a man with a giant toad head. In the first issue, there are other characters who have toad heads, dog heads or pig heads, but by the second issue Griffith had narrowed his character types down to just those with toad heads and those with human heads.

Mr. Toad is egomaniacal and prone to lose his temper at the least bit of annoyance. He can be quite jovial at times but is quick to chastise others who aren't helping him achieve his needs. Above all, Mr. Toad's number one priority is always himself, whether that applies to money, power, or sex. At a 2003 comics conference at the University of Florida, Griffith said that Mr. Toad is representative of an "out-of-control, all-consuming id character." The id, in Freud's structural model of the human psyche, is the unorganized part of a personality that contains basic, instinctual drives, particularly sexual and aggressive impulses. Which actually describes Mr. Toad perfectly.

Tales of Toad is probably best known for introducing Zippy the Pinhead to a wide audience. Zippy had made his debut in Real Pulp Comics #1, but appeared in the second issue of Tales of Toad and was featured on more pages in the third issue than Mr. Toad himself.

To my knowledge, Griffith has never really explained the demise of Mr. Toad, but simply moved on to greener (with greenbacks) pastures when Zippy the Pinhead rose in popularity. Mr. Toad has made guest appearances in Zippy comics, but would never again be the headliner like he was in Tales of Toad. Personally, I'm glad Griffin left Mr. Toad behind, as I never related as well to that character as virtually any other character he ever created. The Tales of Toad series could have easily ended after the second issue, since Mr. Toad really only had one more story left in him, but it's understandable that Griffith wanted the series to survive for one more issue. You always keep a soft spot for your first!