Instructor Bill Dussinger’s newest book is a boldly illustrated window into hometown history

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Bill Dussinger is a leading contender for the title of Lititz’s most fervent cheerleader.
A resident of the small northern Lancaster County borough, Dussinger and his design company, Penny Lane Graphics, have been in charge of branding the town’s massive Fourth of July celebrations, the regional community development corporation, holiday festivals, local businesses and more (not to mention his national and international clientele).
And now, the instructor in PCA&D’s Graphic Design and Illustration departments has put those talents to work one more time in service of his hometown:
A boldly illustrated, sophisticated ABC book — Lititz: From America’s Coolest Small Town to Count Zinzendorf. It’s the first book Dussinger has written as well as illustrated.
It’s not just a book for children, Dussinger says. Instead, it incorporates Lititz’s history, from the more recent Budget Travel celebrating it as the nation’s Coolest Small Town, to the historic 1742 founding of the town by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. That makes it attractive to both tourists and town residents, alike.
“I really did not want to go the normal children’s book route,” Dussinger says. “I didn’t want to use cartoons and funny illustrations, which would be fun to do, but I wanted to keep it more graphic, iconic, clean, and colorful.”
And while he was doing this book, Dussinger made a discovery about his own hometown ties that might solidify that “Mr. Lititz” title for good:
The "E" illustration by Bill Dussinger pays tribute to the best-selling mousetrap (eeek!) of all time.

The “E” illustration by Bill Dussinger pays tribute to the best-selling mousetrap (eeek!) of all time.

You’ve been working on this for several years — what was the initial spark for the idea?
BD: I always thought there should be something for tourists coming to Lititz … a souvenir to take home about what makes Lititz a special place. I didn’t think they would want a large, text-heavy history, but (something that would be) easy to read, look at, and remember the place they visited and enjoyed. But then I thought that the Lititz community might enjoy something like this as well. 
Where did you turn to do the research for the text and images?
BD: Most of the historical tidbits I knew about or at least knew a little about. I didn’t want to get too deep into the history, though, so I researched a little online and narrowed down a snippet for each letter/topic. I have some books that were done by historians that I looked at and double-checked a few things.
Was there anything you learned about your town that surprised you?
BD: At the same time I was doing this, I had a DNA test done to start my family tree. Along with that information and the information my parents had, I found out I am a direct descendant of the very first settler to the Warwick/Lititz area AND I am related to the Sturgis Pretzel family. So I’m pretty much Lititz through and through.
What keeps you going through a project like this, with so many moving pieces?
BD: Like I said, it has taken a few years to complete this book. I made a list of the ABCs and thought of things that would relate to each letter. Some were easy, some not so easy. Some things went with multiple letters and some multiple things would go with a single letter. I tried to narrow it down to one “thing” per letter. That being said, this is not a complete history of Lititz or anything close, it’s just one interesting thing about each letter of the alphabet.
Was there a stumbling block that you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
BD: Yes, some letters there was really nothing … like, the letters H, I, O, U, X. So there is a little trickery in those topics.
Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf's religious affiliation played a crucial role in the daily life of early Lititz. Illustration by Bill Dussinger.

Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf’s religious affiliation played a crucial role in the daily life of early Lititz. Illustration by Bill Dussinger.

You’ve illustrated other books before… A recent coronavirus book for kids (The Class That Can), Land of Not, Zander’s Armadillo Story… is this the first you’ve written?
BD: This is the first one I have written. I’m not a writer at all. I had an editor look over this for me a few times.
Do you have a “next project” (or five) in the works? 
BD: I am working on three more Land of Can: Staying Healthy books. I would love to do a children’s activity book that would include pages like the Bearly Hidden Pictures. I have about a third of that completed … who knows when I will finish it. That one does have a more cartoony style to it. It takes a while to come up with the activities to illustrate.
Someday I would love to do a tabletop book of Lititz … and I’ve always wanted to design a book about (world-leading sound company) Clair Brothers and (Lititz-based worldwide live event powerhouse) Rock Lititz. That would be a huge writing assignment for somebody, but if they ever do it, I am chomping at the bit to design that book. There are many other ideas of things floating around in my head … I’m getting older and I don’t think I’ll get everything done that I want to get done, but it is fun trying. I still like to watercolor paint and I’m always looking for graphic design and illustration jobs to keep my house paid for and food on the table. Samples of everything I do can be found at Penny Lane Graphics.
  • Lititz: From America’s Coolest Small Town to Count Zinzendorf is available via Dussinger’s Facebook page or via email at bill@plgraphics.com. Hardcovers (including a sketch and autograph from Dussinger) are $35; softcovers are $20.