This is the Zodiac eating

The latest tip jar doodle by a hot dog vendor in San Francisco shows a familiar figure with a brand new puzzle for you:

Can you solve it before your frank gets cold?

UPDATE: The tip jar doodle artist emerged, and posted the following background info on Morf’s Zodiac forum:

Hey everyone.

so i am the guy who drew the Zodiac Tip Jar.

my name is Jon Hwong. i am a Bay Area native (peninsula), and have lived in San Francisco a virtual decade.

i graduated from Academy of Art with a BFA in Illustration, and am currently a truck driver & slinging weenies full time in the wake of the recession (aka cashpocalypse). the Hot Dog company i work for is called Annie’s Hot Dogs. we have three carts downtown, and five carts in Golden Gate Park.

i dont know if i have made it painfully clear that this current hot dog vocation is not my final career choice, so i have taken it upon myself to make the job a little less… pedestrian…. by drawing new tip jars every time that i find myself stationed at a cart (we rotate on a regular basis).



so first of all, i am very flattered by the response here on this thread. thank you all very much, i am glad that you guys “get” it. i am even further astonished to see that someone has **almost** solved the cipher. the correct cipher reads HOW DOES MY WEENER TASTE YOU DUMB TOURIST. if anything, the guess was probably more correct… i had copied the glyphs and symbols directly from the three ciphers sent to the three newspapers in the Graysmith novel, but in my haste i probably either drew it incorrectly or just flat out got it wrong.

i CERTAINLY had my reservations about even posting this up in my downtown san francisco location. my sense of humor is always borderline macabre, but SF shrinks REALLY QUICKLY when people’s feelings get hurt. it’s been enough time since the murders, and i am willing to venture a guess that the fascination with Z within the general public has diminished after the Gyllenhall movie back in ’08, but nonetheless, it was a tough decision whether to go with this particular tip jar that day or not (i even had an alternate tip jar drawn just in case someone DID get offended). i eventually decided to give the public the benefit of the doubt, and trust that a) nobody cares, and b) anybody who DID care would “get” it, and c) be cool enough to laugh at it or receive it positively.

so i suppose the #1 question is, what was the inspiration?

well, i think with most people, the story of how they came to be intrigued and even fascinated with Z is never an easy or short one. i had never even heard of the Zodiac killer prior to moving to San Francisco 9 years ago, even though i had grown up right near San Mateo County. one night in 2004, after a few beers and a few laughs, me and my friends were walking back to the apartment and ran across a cubby hole niché bay area tour agency that specialized in Zodiac group tours. it is now defunct, but if i remember correctly, the poster was Graysmith’s Zodiac depiction, and was approximately called “ZODIAC TOURS”.

at that point i was puzzled, and one of my buddies explained to me who Z was.

a few years later, David Fincher’s Zodiac came out in theaters, which was a sincere but rather disappointing effort. but nonetheless, i became fascinated with the idea that someone in that corner of time had done something that gruesome… right in my backyard! LITERALLY!

to this day, i still take all my out-of-towner friends and visiting loved ones out to Washington & Cherry and relay the story for them to hear. whenever it gets REALLY FOGGY or the night just feels a bit cryptic, i like to make the drive alone and wander for a bit when i get there.

finally, after watching the EXTREMELY SUPERIOR Director’s Cut of Zodiac (seriously, it’s an entirely different movie almost and better captures the fascination/phenomenon of Z), i felt that it wouldnt be right to go on living without reading the actual Graysmith novel.

i read it, very recently might i add, cover to cover in 2 days. which is alarmingly fast for someone like me.


i drew this jar as sort of a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Bay Area, and to San Francisco as a whole. at this particular location i was working at, and in this particular time of the year when tourists flood the city, this was a nice little inside joke for myself and all those who are native to SF, and a simaeltaneous jab at the annoying influx of oblivious & cattle-like consumers who tend to make life difficult from time to time (read: all the time).

in some weird way, and i know this is going to sound super f*cking morbid, but Zodiac kind of adds this weird sense of provincial pride that i have for the San Francisco Bay Area… personally i guess it’s one of those things where something or someone morbid or obscene becomes adopted into a cultural checkpoint; i would liken it to the JFK assassination, or the 2000 election (haha).

it was a blast coming up with this idea. the Graysmith cartoon was easy enough to replicate, and i certainly had a good laugh at the comical appearance of one of history’s most deranged murderers holding a freshly cooked hot dog, but i actually had to practice getting Z’s handwriting down to make it look as “authentic” as possible. even though all i wrote was “solve this cipher!!!!” i really wanted to get the handwriting down, for all the hardcore enthusiasts (such as yourselves).

in closing, i do want to sincerely thank all of you for the feedback, i am seriously floored at the positivity, and am very happy that ALL of you got the joke, and have even gone so far as to GUESS THE CIPHER! amazing.


New York hot dogs are F*CKING TERRIBLE!!! lol!!! i was there over the summer, and while they are incredibly cheap (i’ve found some going for a buck), they taste like army boots cooked in gruel. look, our hot dogs are through the roof expensive, but they’re pretty damn good (particularly our Ryan Farr 4505 Bacon Dogs…. nitrate free/hormone free/locally grown/100% organic)….. i guess i really shouldn’t care, but it’s kind of an unfair comparison almost.

i am not so sure that i want to part ways with the art just yet, haha… i am VERY VERY FLATTERED that someone has offered to purchase it as a piece of art, but stick around, because eventually i do plan on collecting enough of my tip jars to either put it in a gallery for fun, or to compile them into a book or collection (coffee table book maybe).