Cartoonist brings Bossier landmarks into comic
If you happen to look at the latest Zippy the Pinhead comic strip, you may be surprised to find Zippy having “A Ton of Fun” right here in Bossier City.
In fact, the March 28 comic strip features a spot right on Barksdale Boulevard.
But how did Connecticut cartoonist Bill Griffith know about Bossier City? The answer is simple.
W. Conway Link, a math professor at Bossier Parish Community College, has been submitting photos to Griffith since 1999 and sent him several photos of Heavy’s and the weathered “HAT” sign on Barksdale Boulevard.
Griffith said in an e-mail that he initially took photos for his comic strips, but said readers began sending him better photos to use; Link being one of them.
“Conway started sending me great photos of places he thought Zippy might enjoy visiting quite a few years ago,” Griffith said. “He has a terrific eye for oddball Zippyesque locales. I’ve lost count of how many strips his photos have inspired, but it must be in the dozens.”
Whenever Griffith uses a reader’s photograph for his drawings, he gives them a “Tip O’ Th’ Pin” credit inside the comic strip. Link’s name is among those that appear often in the Zippy comic strip.
Since 1999, Link has photographed places across the country for Griffith, including spots in Louisiana, Texas, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Florida, Connecticut and Virginia.
Locally, Link has submitted photos from not only Barksdale Boulevard in Bossier City but also Mansfield Road in Shreveport that Griffith has used in his comic strip.
When asked why he used Link’s photos from Barksdale Boulevard, Griffith said the location created a sort of oddness that only Zippy could grasp.
“It was the mysteriousness of the two signs, one derelict and the other on a still operating business. The juxtaposition of the two names —-”Hat” and “Heavy”—seemed to be saying something—-something only Zippy could comprehend,” Griffith said in an e-mail. “I’m attracted to roadside things other people might find ugly, like plastic signs and bleak, empty parking lots. The cracked asphalt between the closed up “Hat” store pulled the two places together for me. From there, it was just a matter of letting Zippy loose in the “Louisiana Power Vortex”!”
In 2001, Links traveling came during a difficult time in his life. When his father passed away, Link said he was on the road to and from New York a lot. That’s when he discovered many unique attractions to send Griffith.
“I try to take back roads whenever I can,” Link said. “That’s where you find the goofiest stuff.”
While living part time in New York, Link said he finally got to meet the man he had been sending photos to. In February 2004, he drove to Griffith’s Connecticut home to meet him face-to-face; an experience Link said he will never forget.
“He’s a big fan of some of the cartoonists that I was as a kid,” Link said. “I was in the presence of one of the best cartoonists in the United States. He spends so much time with details. I don’t see that in any other cartoonists work.”
For more information on Zippy the Pinhead, visit www.zippythepinhead.com