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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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Tuesday, October 09, 2007


So just for grins I bought some pen nibs at the art supply store the other day. I've always drawn with a brush and the occasional Micron but lately I've been envying the quick spontaneous look of scratchy pen drawings.

I slipped into a sort of bad Ronald Searle/George Herriman voice where I tried it here and it didn't feel at all the way I anticipated. Ink blobs are all over the original, and the sensation was like drawing with a fork on a chalkboard.

The jury's still out but so far I think I kind of hate it.


at 10/9/07, 3:16 PM Anonymous Weekly Cartoonist said...

May not feel good, but it looks swell.
(I keep trying to find a happy blend of brush and pen work myself. Haven't quite found it yet.)

at 10/9/07, 4:08 PM Anonymous Art Supply Store Nerd said...

I bet Richard Thompson uses a pen nib(s).
Heck, he probably uses a stick dipped in ink.

Pen nibs are overrated with their splotchy, messy inking. Those artists way long ago cursed them and would have given their left pinky finger for a Micron.

If Herriman was around today, he'd use a digital tablet. :-)

at 10/9/07, 6:09 PM Blogger Terrence said...

So did you not use a brush at all on the above cartoon?

I was under the impression that drawing with a brush was an increasingly rare skill today, from my conversations with other illustrators (and people who employ them). I guess this doesn't really apply to you, but I figured that, therefore, made it a lucrative asset for someone looking for work, setting him or her off from a lot of the competition.

at 10/10/07, 1:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What nibs did you buy?
Can you scan them in or provide a link?

at 10/10/07, 3:11 AM Blogger richardcthompson said...

I think it looks great, and I had no idea you used only a brush, and I'm a bit in awe as I can't do squat with a brush. All the brushes I use haven't been washed in a while, so yeah, it's pretty much a stick.

at 10/10/07, 9:15 AM Anonymous ReFlex76 said...

Don't mean to sound like an art noob, but . . . just what are "nibs"? Yeah, I could look it up, but there's no fun in that!

at 10/10/07, 9:55 AM Blogger Jim Borgman said...

I've loved the flexibility of a brush since first getting the hang of it back in the day. When I manage to loosen up, the one brush (Winsor & Newton series 7 number 3) can take me from super-fine to thick chunky lines in a single stroke.

Masters of the pen seem to be able to do this, too, though. The Saul Steinberg show I saw recently at the Cincinnati Art Museum had jaw-dropping examples of fluid calligraphic lines I wouldn't have thought possible from a single instrument.

I have three Searle originals in my office and I get lost in them on a regular basis. I have to think he uses both brushes and pens in a single drawing. If not, I am going to go break my knuckles.

at 10/10/07, 10:24 AM Anonymous Matt Davies said...

Couldn't resist commenting on this topic, as we're polar opposites. I hate using a brush for line work (watercolor is another story..) - but love scritch-scratching away with a Hunt 102 crowquill. It's a masochistic thing, I guess, and a bitch when I'm late for deadline...Y'know the "scritch - scritch - scritch" turns into more of a "scritchscritchscritch."
So I understand your hatred of the pen nib. Couldn't tell by looking at your results though. Visually stunning as always.

at 10/10/07, 1:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! I'm impressed. You can do all that with a brush or a pen nub? WOW!!! More Admiration. Kyi is handcuffed to an oriental-like lamp. chuckle, chuckle. Thank you, great toon(s).


at 10/10/07, 2:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my experience, I started with pen nibs, after that I went with Microns and now I use mostly a pen brush for almost all my stuff...

at 10/11/07, 3:38 PM Blogger Patrick O'Connor said...

I was inspired the other day by Richard's blog post and dug through my supplies and found an old Hunt 101 nib among many others I haven't drawn with in years. Began using it and immediatly wanted to stab myself in the neck. I like the line quality but the scratch scratch scratch is way to slow and tedious for me.
I guess I'm in the Windsor Newton Series 7 favorite is the #2.

at 10/11/07, 4:53 PM Anonymous John Carey (Freehold) said...

I'd say my ratio of brush work to pen work is about 95 to 5 percent.
Whenever I use a pen too much I just end up trying to vary the line to make it more brushlike.
(I was looking at Mauldin's Willie and Joe cartoons last night and remain -- more than ever -- very humbled.)

An entire polite comment section devoted to technique and talking shop!! Yay!!

at 10/13/07, 9:03 PM Anonymous W.C. said...

Amen. Hey Mr. B, you should have an Art Talk heading once a month so people can share stuff that's not political. The usual rude yahoos aren't into art, obviously.
(Off to see Rembrandt at the Met tomorrow!)

at 10/14/07, 10:01 PM Anonymous tim of sioux falls said...

W.C. says: "Off to see Rembrandt at the Met tomorrow! I am so jealous. Pulitzer-prize winner Matt Davies said he uses a Hunt 102 crowquill. Syndicated cartoonist Patrick O'Connor says he prefers using a Windsor Newton Series 7 number 2 brush. It's great when cartoonists share stuff that's not political on BorgBlog. I use a Pilot (SW10PP)black ink pen to ink my pencil drawings on bristol board. Minneapolis Star Tribune cartoonist Steve Sack looks like he paints his cartoons in acrylic or oil and then scans the cartoons into his computer.

at 10/15/07, 8:56 AM Blogger Jim Borgman said...

Here's the kicker. The nib I used originally on this drawing, and quickly decided must be some cheap amateur thing, is the very nib Richard Thompson recommends on his blog. Maybe it has something to do with the hand that holds the pen?

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