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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, December 19, 2007

I Hear You

Your comments on the last post have been a great shot in the arm, folks. Thanks for taking the time to make thoughtful suggestions and for letting me know the blog has a worthwhile spot in your day. I expect to come back after a year-end vacation with renewed enthusiasm for BorgBlog.

As things stand, I'm taking the concensus suggestion to monitor the blog for the purpose of throwing out the mean-spirited and irrelevant comments. Let me repeat for the hard of hearing that this does NOT mean we will screen out comments that disagree with my cartoons or other commenters. Opposition voices are an important part of any discussion and entirely welcome and valued here, as they always have been. We're just trying to make these streets safe to walk again.

As for registering, I understand that the Enquirer may soon be adopting a system called Pluck which will require those who wish to participate in online message boards and blog commenting to register. As I understand it, registration will not be required to simply read the online Enquirer offerings, but would be required to actively participate. So my blog will have no extra hoops to jump through beyond the site's eventual requirements.

Sounds reasonable.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! See you here again on January 2.

Friday, December 14, 2007

BorgBlog at Two

BorgBlog is two years and 526 posts old this month, and as I pause to give it a rest for a few weeks I'd like to share a few thoughts on my blogging experience.

I began this blog with the thought that I would share sketchbook pages, live roughs, scrawled-upon Starbucks napkins and drawings in process -- a behind-the-scenes layer of my work that I had reason to think might interest a small but passionate cartooncentric community. Though cartoonists' processes are necessarily private, (and regardless, I am private by nature,) I had the notion that more might be shared than convention had allowed, and I was game to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone.

Sketchbook pages filled with topics and cryptic scribbles fell flat, garnering only a few comments. Posting roughs backfired a few times, as I found my ideas grabbed by others who seemed to consider this a shop ripe for looting. And though I proceeded to finish and publish a couple of ideas I would have otherwise abandoned thanks to some encouraging comments, I also found that a lack of enthusiasm sometimes took the wind out of my sails on ideas I otherwise felt were promising. Lesson One: Be careful about putting fresh and tender notions up for a public vote.

Lesson 2: I quickly found that trying to stop a drawing in process to scan and post my progress was unworkable -- there is a certain flow that cartooning requires, a mental zone, that won't allow this going-under-and-coming-back-to-the-surface repeatedly. Most artists know that wonderful place several inches deep inside the paper where thoughts and music and daydreams and memories all swim around freely during the drawing of inky lines. It is often the richest part of the day, and I learned that I wasn't willing to give that up for the sake of posting. I thank blogging for that insight and an increased appreciation for that gift of Flow unique to artists.

So BorgBlog devolved into a few essays, some random thoughts, and the posting of each day's cartoon. For the record, this is the very first place where eyes are laid on my cartoons -- they are generally posted within fifteen minutes of finishing the drawing. And it's been fun to watch the comments grow in number over these couple of years, from 5 or 10 in the beginning to 20, 30 or more these days.

But ah, those comments. First, thanks to everyone who posts comments in the spirit of fun, curiosity, and lively debate. I've always benefited from thoughtful criticism, and those who take the time to challenge or support a position I've taken are equally valuable to me. That's most of you, and I've enjoyed this new kind of flash feedback. Most of my career I would draw a cartoon, put it in a bottle and toss it into the ocean, then wait like the guy in B.C. as it drifted off to the printer, to the presses, to the driveways, to the breakfast tables, and sometimes, days later, a response drifted back in the Letters to the Editor. Now I post a cartoon on this blog and read a couple dozen responses after dinner.

The flip side, of course, is that a Letter to the Editor required a certain gathering of one's thoughts, a careful and conscious effort to make oneself understood, a signature that held one accountable for those thoughts, and enough effort in the writing and mailing to scare away the fainthearted or ambivalent.

The Comments section of this blog has become a crack house of vitriole, a dangerous dark alleyway where angels fear to tread, and who can blame them? Anonymity provides cover for some people to air their darkest side, to attack randomly and venomously. It's something I don't want to be associated with anymore. I've come to feel the guilt of a slumlord, a kind of complicity in providing a barely monitored space where unaccountable voices brawl and slash.

The upshot, of course, is that one ventures out less. Whereas I began the blog inclined to share more of my process for those who might be interested, now I'm inclined to post only the drawings I intended for public consumption anyway and let the usual arrows bounce off my well-developed rhinoceros hide. Pity. I was hoping for more.

So I'm giving BorgBlog a rest until the first of the new year and looking for your thoughts on what it might become next. In its present form, I think it has run its course. Any ideas what we might do in this space next? How do we take back this neighborhood?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Attendance Optional

Polar Exit

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ticket Thugs

Somebody's Got To Say It

I just received the annual Chuck Brooks book, still entitled (all evidence to the contrary) "Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year." Have you ever seen a more ghastly gathering of editorial cartoons? I'm reminded of the old Casey Stengel quote when he was managing the '62 Mets -- "Can't anybody around here play this game?"

Each year Chuck's call for submissions brings on a crisis of conscience. I declined to send cartoons several times but eventually caved to the logic that, "Of course it's going to be weak if good cartoonists fail to submit work."

But this is the end of the road for me. I can't remember being so disheartened about my profession. Thank God for Peters, Luckovich, Ramirez, Keefe, Morin and one or two others in this volume, or innocent readers might actually believe this motley assortment is the best the artform has to offer.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Big O

Friday, December 07, 2007

Vote Early, Vote Grumpy

Here's our annual Best of Borgman survey, launching this morning! Sorry, no "I Voted Today" stickers. Results will run on Sunday January 6th both online and in print.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mitt's Speech

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's Just An Honor To Be Manipulated By You, Sir

We're All Gonna Die Man

So every year I haul out We're All Gonna Die Man for the first snowfall. He's a local type everyone here knows. Rumor has it we'll be pelted by an inch tonight in the Cincinnati area. You can be sure the lines at Kroger are twenty deep as we speak. Don't these people keep any toilet paper in their houses as a matter of course?

Snow panic is our favorite winter passtime here. During the anthrax scare after 9/11 I drew a cartoon of a Cincinnatian relieved to find that the white powder he encountered was anthrax instead of snow. Everyone outside the area thought I'd mixed up the caption. Locals got it.

As for me, I'm spending the evening cozily holed up in my downtown studio clearing off my desk and hoping -- hoping -- another editorial cartoon idea strikes me so that I can draw it tonight and stay under the covers in the morning.

Jim Borgman
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