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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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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Q. Do you ever worry that posting your live sketchbook pages will allow other cartoonists to rip off an idea before you have time to execute it?

A. I consider the blog a kind of publication. Once an idea is posted there, it's pretty much on the record that it's mine. I've been pleased to see few if any cartoons by others that seem to trace back to my sketchbooks. And I'm not sure it would work anyway -- an idea that is not honestly arrived at seldom has any punch.

Q. How do you decide what will make a good cartoon and avoid beating to death whatever the topic du jour like Anna Nicole Smith or Super Bowl wardrobe malfunctions? You could probably do one each day in criticism of the government and its policies … how do you keep it from veering off in that direction?

A. I pride myself on never having mentioned Paris Hilton in an editorial cartoon! Gawd, I hate that kind of cartooning. Look, to some extent it’s just a matter of following what seems interesting to me. I never watch TV, so I’ve never done cartoons on American Idol or Desperate Housewives or any of that. I avoid the gossip stories, the ephemeral stuff. What interests me is trends in technology, education, relationships, family life, and how we’re handling the rush of change coming at us. To a lesser extent I care about policy and politics. I have little interest in political squabbles or election horseraces. Washington is mostly boring. I like subjects that are closer to home, that have an impact on how we live our lives day to day. I am beyond loathing George W. Bush – I barely know how to take him seriously.

Q. I get the opinion of you that you are, despite all of your success, still a very grounded person. How do you do that despite all the success you’ve had to date?

A. This profession is very humbling. It takes nothing more than a blank piece of paper to make me aware of my limited abilities. I like to think I give readers something to think about or smile about in most of my cartoons, but I’m also acutely aware of my enormous body of mistakes.

When I get in my car to go home at night I am invariably struck by the unlikeliness of it all – that I arrived in the morning with no ideas, that I furrowed my forehead until some notions came out, that I spread some ink around with the tip of an animal’s tail, and that tomorrow people will look at it all over the country and react in some way. It feels like walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope every day. It's remarkable to me that the process ever works, much less that it regularly works.


at 6/13/07, 1:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite cartoon was the one of Ryan White....I was a kid when I saw it and I remember my Mom teaching me about hate and predjudice that day. In a sense your cartoon sparked a very valid teaching lesson from my Mom.

at 6/13/07, 11:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, I really like the Q & A. It was a thought I was going to pass onto you for your blog, but was unsure how we blog readers would get questions to you.

Excellent job with the blog, very insightful.

Keep up the good work!

at 6/18/07, 2:06 PM Blogger Wettengel said...


Not sure who these questions came from but I have one for a future Q&A post.

Seeing the color version of the Charlie Harper cartoon got me wondering which you prefer B&W or color and/or do they both have there pros and cons?

at 6/23/07, 5:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I challenge you to read this Jim.

It is an extremely powerful, informative and emotional film to watch:

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