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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, November 12, 2007

Q&A (continued)

Q. When you've got to spend long cartooning, do you use anything like the t.v., music, etc. to keep you at your drawing table?

A. I cherry-picked this question today because I spent the whole weekend bolted to my chair trying to catch up on Zits. I'd fallen behind because I was sick for most of a week last month and then took my daughter on a college visit to Minnesota last weekend. Even a couple of missed days can set me way back. One of the very few tough aspects of life as a cartoonist is the relentlessness of the deadlines. (Violins, please.)

I'm in awe of guys like Tom Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean) and Russ Myers (Broomhilda) who are said to work years in advance. Zits is usually within a week of our schedule (six weeks ahead on dailies, ten weeks on Sundays), but in ten years I don't think we've ever managed to get a full week ahead of the schedule. Falling behind is ridiculously easy, and catching up is like clawing through quicksand.

So anyway, in a 12-hour marathon on Saturday I:
-listened to Weekend Edition on NPR
-listened to Car Talk
-kinda listened to whatever that money show is after Car Talk
-listened to my daughter's essay for the Common App
-listened to Weekend America until I realized I wasn't listening anymore
-listened to Springsteen's Magic, which is fabulous, if I haven't told you so before
-sorta watched the University of Guys in Blue play Orange College for awhile on the little TV beside my drawing board
-probably watched two other teams in variously colored uniforms (my choice of games has a lot to do with the mellifluousness of the announcers' voices, since I seldom look up at the screen)
-found a cable channel that seemed to carry only commercials for ED (the one with the four-hour erection warning always makes me laugh)
-flipped to CNN and then back because they were talking about the saliva shortage in East Timor
-watched The U.S. vs. John Lennon on DVD on my computer
-called the pizza guy (my wife's away)
-listened to A Prairie Home Companion until Garrison Keillor's homespunness got on my nerves
-watched a National Geographic special on katydids. Did you know that a certain variety of Amazonian katydids eat monkeys? Or maybe I was hallucinating at that point.
-watched the local news. Turns out while I quietly drew all day, other people were crashing their cars, setting their houses on fire and suffering from four-hour erections. Glad I stayed indoors.


at 11/12/07, 11:08 AM Anonymous Mr. Whig said...

"listened to A Prairie Home Companion until Garrison Keillor's homespunness got on my nerves"

I could never put my finger on why that show bugged me until right now. Thanks.

at 11/12/07, 12:55 PM Anonymous Canetoonist said...

Was the football game you watched University of Miami vs. Virginia? We lost big time, and it was the last game in the Orange bowl :(

at 11/12/07, 3:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a treat, thanks for sharing. "While you were quietly drawing?" Reads like you had lots of sound around you. $100 a barrel. I wonder how many people can work at home. Great toon.


at 11/12/07, 7:58 PM Anonymous W.C. said...

Get the OVATION channel? A new addition with some great stuff.

at 11/12/07, 11:15 PM Anonymous BorgFan said...

Now to get that photo tour of your studio(s)...

It's neat to know what you listen to while you draw.
How much work did you get done in that 12-hour marathon?

What's your ZITS schedule like?
Do you ink a whole bunch of them at once, do them one-a-day, etc.?

at 11/13/07, 8:51 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear you were my husband. That's exactly the same radio/CD/TV/DVD type lineup he listens to while working on Saturday.

at 11/13/07, 11:01 AM Blogger Jim Borgman said...

I am your husband, Suz. Maybe I need to work less.

at 11/13/07, 11:05 AM Blogger Jim Borgman said...

As far as how much work I got done in that stretch, I lettered and penciled 12 dailies and then inked four of them. That's a monster day, because for me, the penciling takes longer than the inking and is harder brain work.

On Sunday, a more interrupted day, I inked two Sundays and two dailies, then scanned/cleaned up/filed everything that was done.

In short, I painted one more foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

at 11/13/07, 1:14 PM Anonymous BorgFan said...

Wowsa! How can you do all that AND do editorial cartoons?!?

In the early days of ZITS, it looks like you squeezed in a ton of needless stuff in the backgrounds of the panels. But place that on the comics page next to Beetle Bailey and you command attention. But the strips were kinda "muddy" when reduced down to their tiny newspaper size. Now, looking through some of the more recent collections, I can see strip after strip where there's no background at all. Is this a design thing, or a more of a need for speed?

You still put more into the background of your comics than anyone else out there. And Zits still commands visual attention.

You have an acute awareness for line quality.

at 11/13/07, 5:07 PM Blogger Jim Borgman said...

It wouldn't take much more time to clutter up the backgrounds -- I buy that stuff by the bucket. Just looking for the right way to draw each panel. Often spare is best.

at 11/14/07, 11:01 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"....the saliva shortage in East Timor...."

Is that where the Tamil Tigers are? I always hear about them on NPR, and I had no idea about the saliva shortage, might be related to the drought in Atlanta.

You should watch the History Channel more often, they have Modern Marvels on there, a show about all kinds of things, my favorite was the History of Cotton, subtitled: From Dirt to Shirt. Beats that katydid show hands down.

Of course if the Food Network has on a marathon of "Unwrapped" that would probably be better. But then again *listening* to how they fill Twinkies wouldn't be as interesting as SEEING IT HAPPEN, at a thousand miles an hour. Better stick to Car Talk.

at 11/15/07, 12:03 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:01,
How on Earth can you listen to Mark Summers talk on "Unwrapped"?
I hate how he does that little pause at the end of his sentences. Ugh!

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