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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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Monday, April 30, 2007

#1 Pick

Cartoon Etiquette

For those of you who have not been trained in the proper care of a cartoonist's ego, here is a good way not to converse with a cartoonist when you meet one of us at a party:

You: "OK, explain the cartoon you had in the paper today because I didn't get it at all."

Cartoonist: "Uh, do you mean the one about Autism?"

You: "I thought it said Activism. I didn't really look at it very carefully. But go on."

Cartoonist: "Well, there is a rise in the rates of autism in recent years and..."

You: "What was that circus all about?"

Cartoonist: "Do you mean the playground? It was meant to represent healthy childhood and the pregnant couple was pondering the chasm of autism that they feared might lie between them and the healthy child they hoped for."

You: "They were pregnant? See, I didn't get that all. I asked Ron and he didn't get that at all, either. HEY RON, HE SAYS THE COUPLE WAS PREGNANT. See, we didn't get that at all."

Here is a conversation that will make a cartoonist very happy at a party:

You: "Loved your cartoon today."

Cartoonist: "Thanks. Great cheese log, huh?"

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pimp my Transcript

I read recently that 64 of 83 higher education institutions surveyed reported that anxiety on college campuses is increasing as measured by student usage of mental health services over the past three years.

It's lousy what we're doing to our kids.

My high schoolers have managed to keep well-rounded social lives against all odds under the ever-increasing pressure to vamp for colleges, but I see their friends buckling under the weight. One young friend of mine, a dream student at Sycamore HS excelling in Advanced Placement classes and SATs, said to her mother recently, "Is the rest of my life going to be as hard as this?"

A couple of years ago my then-high school senior declared that once she got to college she was going to finally relax a bit. Since freshman year she had been piling up the kind of grades and activities that might land her in a good college, calculating every summer what volunteering or camps or sports might help round out her resume. She got to college... and now stresses about racking up the grades that will get her into grad school.

So it was with mixed feelings that Daughter #2 and I took a swing through liberal arts colleges in New England recently. I have such fond feelings for my own college years that I want something just as great for her, but I also cringe to launch her into the college search rat race.

We learned the drill quickly. You arrive on campus around 10AM for the Campus Tour (led invariably by a high-spirited student who can imagine herself nowhere else), followed by the Information Session at 11 where an admissions officer explains that scores and tests don't really matter -- they're just looking for passionate students who will enrich the class. At this point you can watch the parents check for their wallets in unison.

Grab lunch in the campus town at the funky alternative sandwich shop and get to the next college for the 1PM Tour and Info Session. We settled into a groove -- two colleges a day, then zone out back at the B&B trying to remember, "Was that Wesleyan or Swarthmore?" Like a herd of cattle, we moved with other families through the circuit, unaware that we had fallen neatly into a well-trodden path. You could almost hear the admissions officers calculating, "If this is Wednesday afternoon, they're visiting their sixth college of the week," (though we ran into one manic family that saw 27 colleges in 5 days. I have to think they were indiscriminately touring everything that called itself a college, dental and mining schools included.)

A friend, watching me plowing through the Fiske Guide to Colleges years ago when my oldest began the process, told me that he thought most kids could be happy at most colleges. Somehow those words relieved the pressure building in my brain and I repeat them like a mantra whenever the process seems overwhelming. If you believe the statistics, colleges are all filled with a race of superhumans who leave your child in the dust.

Who are they and why don't I see them graduating and solving the problems of the world?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Coming Sunday

Leap of Faith

The suggestion to use a playground on the other side of the chasm was a great idea. I still felt the drawing needed a tag line. Hope this one works.

Is It Finished?

A Little Help?

I've been wanting to do something on this topic for a long time, but the image has been eluding me. It still lacks something. Does it need a tag line? Not sure I like the board across the chasm, something I saw once in an old Oliphant cartoon. I'm trying to get at the precariousness and vulnerability of those steps during a couple's pregnancy as they sense the Autism issue looming out there.

Input welcome. This is for tomorrow's page.

Tricky Dubya

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday 4.25.07

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wednesday's Cartoon


Topics and Roughs/Monday

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gun Culture

Schulz Museum

I'll be speaking at the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA this Saturday afternoon April 21 (open to the public), followed by a booksigning, and then again in the evening to the museum's supporters.

If you're in the area, check it out.

My reward is a tour of the wine country on Friday. Gonna get me a box of that pink zinfandel.


I spent a good deal more time in New York City than I intended to last weekend. Sunday was the memorial service for my King Features editor Jay Kennedy, whom I blogged about last month. As I'd been touring colleges in New England with my daughter the previous week, I planned to just fly into and out of NYC on Sunday for the afternoon service.

(sound of God laughing)

When American Airlines notified me that my evening flight was cancelled and that I was rescheduled on a doubtful Monday afternoon flight, I slumped like a wet dog down the monsoon streets of Chelsea. The David Letterman line came back to me, "From New York, the city that makes its own gravy..." I got a cab and asked the guy to take me to a reasonable hotel. (Hey, if you can't trust a New York cab driver who can you trust?) If I was capable of being further soaked, the hotel managed to do it.

There are few feelings more desolate than finding yourself in a gray hotel in a big impersonal city with nothing but the wet clothes on your back.

Afraid that my cell phone would die and leave me unreachable the next day, I made some exorbitant calls from my room to the people who could lend me comfort in my forlorn state. It was my wife Suzanne who said what I needed to hear.

"Just read the New York Times cover to cover and get a bunch of editorial cartoon ideas. When you come home tomorrow you can draw them and you'll be right on track again." She knows I fret constantly about my deadlines. And, dear woman, she just doesn't understand that my muse is far more temperamental than that. There wasn't a snowball's chance of being inspired under these conditions.

To humor her, and because I discovered yet again that I am incapable of watching TV, I read the Sunday Times. It may be the first time in my life I've ever finished the thing, even the sections I always set aside "to read later" and end up pitching by Wednesday. It astonishes me how much the Times can put into the same amount of newsprint that other newspapers fill with so little. I went to sleep feeling like I'd had a huge meal. (OK, well I had, at the Stage Deli across the street, but the feeling wasn't entirely due to the Reuben.)

Monday morning I was sitting in LaGuardia five hours before my flight feeling like a total midwestern rube, having believed the dire morning show warnings about airport congestion and more cancelled flights. With time to kill I opened my sketchbook, rolled my eyes and acted as if ideas might come.

Three hours later I had five good editorial cartoon ideas. This does not happen to me, ever. As I got on the plane I apologized to my wife in my head and headed straight to the office to draw.

(sound of God laughing again)

On the drive from the airport to my office I learned about the Virginia Tech massacre and realized I was back at Square One again. There is no ignoring certain stories, no matter what little nuggets you've got stored in your sketchbook. The day ended in a drawing sweat.

In the end, though, I have to acknowledge how little I understand my creative process even after being attentive to it for these thirty years. It can thrill me or frustrate me with utter whimsy. When I die, pickle my brain and see if someone centuries from now can figure out how it worked.

Iraqi Children

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech

Tax Day

Friday, April 06, 2007

Watch This Space

I'll be visiting colleges with my daughter next week, so I'll see you back here on April 16th.

The Big Mo

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

You Throw Like a Mayor

Failure to See the Light

Helpful readers and bloggers continue to help me see the error of my ways on the Gonzales/Purgegate matter (above cartoon from last week.) Specifically I've been pointed to this site for edification on the background of the firings of the U.S. prosecutors.

Every time I try to get outraged about this issue I find the sand running through my fingers.

If you know my work, you know that I have an almost knee-jerk reflex to find fault with this administration. After six years, the only thing I admire about Dubya is that he works out every day.

But I still find it tough to get outraged when an acceptable and legal action (the firing of the prosecutors for any reason at all) is simply defended poorly. There has to be an offense at the heart of the matter for the stonewalling around it to be outrageous.

If it comes out that the firings were in some way illegal, I will be the first to jump on the perpetrator (my footprints are already all over Karl Rove).

But if I have a ham sandwich for lunch and tell you I had turkey, it is still legal to have had a ham sandwich. One may legitimately wonder why in the hell I would tell you I had turkey, and that lie may give you added reason to mistrust me. But unless it was wrong to have had a ham sandwich to begin with, the situation is properly filed under Baffling, not Criminal.

Help me understand if I am continuing to miss the point.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Free-Range Tofu?

Opening Day

Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
Paul Daugherty
Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
Pop culture review
Who's News
Roller Derby Diva
CinStages Buzz....
The Foodie Report
Classical music
John Fay's Reds Insider
High school sports
UC Sports
CiN Weekly staff

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