Who is this comic-strip character named Ziggy? He can’t be placed in time, location or economic status, and seems to be — but may not be — an adult male. It is known that he was created in 1969 by the cartoonist Tom Wilson, who died on Friday, and who suggested that Ziggy can be whatever you want him to be.When asked by teenage girls if Ziggy had a girlfriend or family, Mr. Wilson had a ready answer: “He does have a girlfriend! His girlfriend is you!”Short, bald, big-nosed, barefoot, Ziggy was actually meant to be all of us, as Ziggy might say (he likes to talk directly to the reader), as we stumble through the frustrations, ironies and disappointments of life. In newspapers across the country, in the single-panel strip that bears his name, he battles temperamental toasters and wicked A.T.M.s. He gets a ticket on the information superhighway. He is baffled by waitresses, clerks and fortunetellers. He has few human friends.But his pets love him, including a cat named Sid, who is afraid of mice, and a potato-shaped dog named Fuzz, who looks like him. Moreover, by talking to the reader rather than to other characters, he engenders the illusion of direct eye contact.Ziggy and his tribulations emerged from Mr. Wilson’s memories of childhood, which he called “a Ziggy experience.” As he explained in 1996: “I think in our own heads we’re never all that confident. I’m not.”So universal are Ziggy’s troubles — not to mention his stubbornly innocent wonderment — that Mr. Wilson insisted he did not create him. “I simply acknowledged him,” he said.Mr. Wilson, who was 80, died of pneumonia on Friday in Cincinnati. His death was announced by Universal Uclick, the syndicate that distributes his strip to 500 daily and Sunday newspapers.Ziggy will survive him, however. His son, Tom Jr., has been drawing the strip since 1987 and will continue to do so. Early on, Mr. Wilson trained his son to draw it. He himself would draw Ziggy stumbling into a manhole, say, and then hand the paper to the boy, asking him to draw a rescue. “Tommy, it’s time for you to save Ziggy!” he would say.Drawn by the younger Mr. Wilson, with occasional advice from his father, Ziggy became known to a new generation as the same old clumsy, wide-eyed, teddy-bear-shaped “little guy in a big world” even as he addressed new concerns like the environment.Along the way Ziggy became something of a pop-culture juggernaut. He was the inspiration for uncountable calendars, cards, T-shirts and mugs — not to mention best-selling books of cartoons. His name was invoked in a hip-hop song and in television shows like “Cheers,” “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons” and “30 Rock.” In 1983, the Christmas special “Ziggy’s Gift” won an Emmy for best animated program. In 2002, Ziggy was the official spokescharacter for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.In addition to his son, Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife, the former Carol Sobble; two daughters, Ava Wilson-Stewart and Julianne Webb; and five grandchildren.Thomas Albert Wilson was born in Grant Town, W.Va. When his father could not find work as a stonemason, he moved the family to Pennsylvania, where he worked as a coal miner.Thomas developed an empathetic sense of humor watching Laurel and Hardy movies. He played bass in an Army band, graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and moved to Cleveland, where he got a job with the American Greetings Corporation. As an executive there, he helped develop humorous, photographic and romantic cards, as well as characters like Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears.He also first drew Ziggy there, for a humor book. He liked the name because it meant the character would come last in the alphabetical order of life, a theme he illustrated — literally — in one memorable strip. In it, Ziggy is stranded on a rooftop during a flood as a rescue boat picks up people alphabetically.