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Take a peek over Jim Borgman's shoulder

Jim Borgman has been the Enquirer's editorial cartoonist since 1976. Borgman has won every major award in his field, including the 1991 Pulitzer Prize, the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 1993, and most recently, the Adamson Award in 2005 as International Cartoonist of the Year. His award-winning daily comic strip Zits, co-created with Jerry Scott, chronicles the life of 15-year-old Jeremy Duncan, his family and friends through the glories and challenges of the teenage years. Since debuting in July 1997, Zits has regularly finished #1 in reader comics polls across America and is syndicated in more than 1300 newspapers around the world.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ice! Snow! Panic!

Uh-Oh, No Pictures

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kim Jong Ban

Monday, November 27, 2006

Untenable Position

Apology Circuit


I spent the Thanksgiving break (and a bit more) in southern California visiting my son Dylan in LA and my wife's family in Orange County. Missed an armload of newspapers and probably some worthwhile stories. When I got back home last night I couldn't force myself to wade through the pile, so I'm baking from scratch this morning.

Difficult as re-entry can be, I've learned that making clean breaks from newswatching in order to think fresh thoughts is critical in this business. It's an occupational hazard of a life in journalism to think that everyone else is thinking about the Pope in Turkey, when in fact they are battling traffic, their own deadlines and the myriad balancing challenges of everyday life.

So we caught up on family, took walks, visited the Getty Museum, saw a bunch of movies (especially enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction and Happy Feet) and generally forgot about headlines and deadlines for five sweet days.

Perspective. Now there's a concept.

What, This Old Thing?

Happy to report that Cincinnati Magazine's current Best of the City issue chooses BorgBlog as one of its 101 Things We Love.

I have to second the opinion stated in the piece that the comments from BorgBlog viewers are the surprise show stealers. After years of doing take-that! publishing in print, it's fun for me to watch the thoughtful give-and-take that happens in the Comments section of this blog. Thanks for your participation.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bipartisan Thanksgiving

You Choose the Best of Borgman 2006

This year we've made choosing the year-end Best of Borgman package an audience participation event. Instead of spreading my cartoons out on the huge conference room table upstairs and narrowing them down with a trusted editor or three, we've posted thirty of the contenders for you to vote on.

BorgBloggers are certainly among my most astute readers (OK, except for that Anonymous 2:30AM guy), so if you have time to participate I'll have more faith in the results.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Losing our Hub?


My editor, Dave "Big Bopper" Wells has informed me that Chad Johnson shaved his mohawk before last week's game against the San Diego Chargers. Though my Ocho Cinco cartoon in today's paper doesn't hinge on the haircut, it's prominently displayed as his identifying trademark. I hate when that happens. Somebody please copy me in on the Bengals' tonsorial memoes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

100 Hours

Whither Bengaldom?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Or Not

Jeff Stahler

For more than twenty years, my colleague in editorial cartooning here in Cincinnati has been Jeff Stahler. Jeff spent most of those years drawing across town at the Cincinnati Post, the smaller afternoon newspaper, and now he works remotely for the Columbus Dispatch from his studio above his garage in a leafy old suburb here called Wyoming.

Yesterday we had lunch together at a cozy cafe near his house on a glad-I'm-alive sunny autumn Thursday. The trees were every color between yellow and red outside the window. As we drank coffee and talked I found myself appreciating how lucky I've been to have such a genuine friend as Jeff to compare thoughts with over the course of my career and to push me to do my best work.

It would be pressing it to call what we have a rivalry. We frequently talk to each other on the phone as we ink and are pretty open in sharing our thought process with each other, falling about a foot-and-a-half short of actually disclosing the idea we're working on. Jeff is a quick reactor to the news and often has a cartoon in the paper just as I'm beginning to focus on the topic. I think of myself as a ponderous cartoonist, opting for the deeper thought if it takes an extra day to cook. For that reason, Jeff has jack-rabbited past me on a regular basis, and in today's quick-cycle news world that is an approach that has its benefits.

Jeff built a new garage two years ago for the purpose of perching a studio above it. This was my first visit. It's a large eaved room with a couch under one set of windows for reading, which he does around 7:30 each morning after walking with his wife Jeannie for an hour in their neighborhood. ("On Mondays we always take a flat route. By the end of the week we may venture up a hill," he says.) His drawing board and computer are nestled in an opposite corner with an adjoining desk for organizing his piles of work. He stays in touch with his editor in Columbus via a small laptop and files his stuff electronically mid-afternoon. There's soft jazz on the radio. And there's quite a large open space in the room. "For pacing," he says.

Jeff draws his Dispatch cartoons, a weekly Wednesday cartoon for USA Today, and the daily panel Moderately Confused, a feature NEA syndicates much as it had Jim Berry's Berry's World. It's a lot of work, but Jeff shrugs it off with his big easy grin. I can't remember ever seeing him flustered or panicked. The stuff seems to roll right down his arm onto the paper.

Stahler is one of the most under-appreciated cartoonists around. Every cartoon works. His ideas are absolutely water-tight, insightful, funny, sophisticated. And he draws in that deceptively simple the-sparer-the-better style that demands every line be exactly where it should be. His characters always have life, nuanced expression and great natural movement. Somehow, after drawing fifty thousand couples saying something to each other in front of a TV, he still breathes life and uniqueness into each one. And the kids he draws feel like they've been lifted directly out of the house next door.

I don't know how momentum builds around certain cartoonists to be finally recognized with the prizes and awards they deserve, but I wish it would build around Jeff. His quiet and graceful style may always be the gentler party in the room when judges gather. But name me an editorial cartoonist who hits for a higher average. Jeff Stahler's cartoons deserve a Pulitzer Prize and I hope someday soon the spotlight shines on him.

Hamilton County Courthouse

For those of you tuning in from distant lands (i.e. outside the I-275 beltway) the local electorate stunned the entrenched Republican Party which has ruled our county commission for forty-odd years by electing David Pepper to one of the three seats, thereby shifting the majority to the Dem- Dem- Dem- Democrats (shudder!) No doubt a lot of Geritol-and-Jack Daniels cocktails were going down on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Message for Rumsfeld

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fall Elections

The Challenge of Tuesday

Over the years I've tried lots of strategies for anticipating the cartoon that will run in the paper the morning after Election Day.

For those of us still publishing editorial cartoons on dead trees, it's nearly impossible to say something worthwhile in the Wednesday morning newspaper on the day after an election. Last-minute press priorities go to the news pages, as they should, so opinion pages have to be filed earlier in the evening before the returns are complete. And even if results are conclusive early, which is rare, how is the lowly cartoonist to digest the dizzying list of winners and losers and comment graphically by deadline?

I began today on the drive into work by making a mental list of the most-to-least certain electoral results, trying to assess which race or races I might reasonably anticipate. At best, I'll go into Tuesday evening with a wad of sketches that I might work from as voters' choices begin to materialize.

In past years I've played it several ways. Sometimes I've chosen an entirely different issue for the cartoon's topic. This tends to make one look clueless, commenting on, say, global warming or the Bengals' season when everyone else wakes up wanting to talk about election results.

Other times I've drawn cartoons projecting opposite results. But that doesn't work, because usually the ed page editor has to make a choice before the election outcomes are certain, and consequently must opt for the third idea, the mealy-mouthed limp-wristed one that avoids making a call and comments on the need to clean up the yard signs or whatever. By Thursday, the cartoons in the bank feel stale and out of touch with the larger picture that has evolved.

And that's the unavoidable truth -- even if I were to call a certain predictable race in advance and have a cartoon ready to run, that cartoon usually has a hollow feel to it when it shows up in the post-election day newspaper. It hasn't had the benefit of context. Was this race part of a larger change in the political landscape? Or was it eclipsed by an unanticipated pattern in the results?

You can't write (or draw) journalism before it happens. The rolling nature of online journalism will change these ways cartoonists have had to think.

An Election Day Portfolio

Friday, November 03, 2006

Voting Portfolio

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday Musings

Funny Girl

How Do You Feel About Electronic Voting?

Call me Old School, but I have a sense of dread about the confidence we may lack in election results tallied on electronic voting machines.

Most of you probably have a far deeper footing in the computer culture than I do. My 23-year-old son lives and breathes by his internet connection, so much so that when he moved to California he would park for hours outside a nearby hotel in order to filch off of their wi-fi connection until his could be activated. (Dylan's blog, in case you're interested, is at ) Dyl scoffs at my shaky faith in computers, but I've kicked my share of towers when glitches and gremlins gnarled my system. How many of you, for instance, find Blogger seamless?

So why does everyone assume electronic voting is going to solve our electoral dysfunction? I find myself absorbed by the conspiracy theories, how Republican-controlled manufacturers will rig the results. Tell me why I'm wrong. Educate me.

Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
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Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
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