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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, January 28, 2008



at 1/28/08, 1:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

mccain will keep the old farts (generation) going; cincy will make SURE of it at the unrigged poll booths

at 1/28/08, 2:21 PM Anonymous BorgFan said...

That bottom pencil sketch is amazing.
Just look at Sam's face..the text on the window....
Ink would not do it justice.

Have you ever considered doing your editorial cartoons with a pencil?

Ever do any pencil drawings that you'd like to share on the blog?

at 1/28/08, 2:24 PM Anonymous mr squidknuckles said...

The Kennedy one is very funny and caught me off guard.

at 1/28/08, 2:43 PM Anonymous Dan said...

The Bill/Hillary inauguration sketch is fabulous! I sincerely hope Billary doesn't get elected this fall. I hope it doesn't even get selected by the Democrats.

Kennedy passing the torch is good too.

LeLegacy is accurate, but I find it hard to find humor or commentary about Bush's legacy. I served under his father and voted for him, but he represents everything that's wrong about the current state of American political family dynasties. I hope his legacy leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.

at 1/28/08, 2:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

smarmy ties

President's ties here close

When President Bush delivers his State of the Union address tonight, many in the Cincinnati area will cheer the fact that it is his last. Others will hate to see him go.
What's the state of your household?

at 1/28/08, 2:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q & A with Jim Borgman

Q: First of all, could you describe your system of constructing an editorial cartoon from idea to finished drawing?
A: Any given cartoon probably began as a note scratched on a Post-it pad and stuck to my dashboard while driving to or from work. That process is fed by listening to NPR, talk radio, cursing back at the callers, free-associating topics in my head and generally daydreaming. By the time I gather these notes together and bring them into my studio, several of the idea seeds are usually sprouting. From them I draw pencil roughs just so the ideas won't get away, and also so that I have some record of what the idea looked like before I got in there and started screwing it up.

By noon or 1 or 2 o'clock I begin feeling the need to start the final drawing. If I've got lots of ideas lying around, I may draw several. That gives me the breathing room to occasionally have a day when I just read and write ideas. I used to start from the ground up each day, but as time has passed, I find my week is more fluid, with some days devoted more to writing, some to drawing, some to the piles of paper that collect around me.

I find the drawing time to be the most enjoyable, now that I've climbed most of the more rugged mountains. I used to be painfully self-conscious about style, influences and all that gingerbread. But some years ago I went cold turkey and stopped looking at everybody else's work, in an effort to hear my own drummer more clearly. When you come out the back end of that wringer you can begin to enjoy the simple act of drawing, loving the way the ink goes down on the paper, the feel of the brush in your hand, getting behind the lines you're drawing. If I'm uninterrupted, that's the sweetest and most profound part of my day.

I draw with a fine red sable brush and some fine-tipped permanent markers. Most of my originals look like battlefields, documenting all the skirmishes and ambushes that took place along the way. That's the joy of looking at originals, seeing a glob of white-out with a simple line drawn across its surface and wondering, "What the hell happened here?" I find it exhilarating. Most weeks I draw six editorial cartoons plus Wonk City, my once-a-week political comic strip.

Q: Have you ever drawn something that your editors considered to be too outrageous or controversial to publish?

A: No, I have had incredibly generous editors and publishers. I stop myself short of where they would stop me.

Q: Would you say that, as an editorial cartoonist, you are given quite a bit of freedom, or do you sometimes feel restricted?

A: I have no war stories to tell. When I had been at The Enquirer a year or so. and it had become apparent that I was not in sync with the editorial philosophy of the paper, another job offer came my way. I went to my editor and said that I would understand it perfectly if they wanted to present a unified voice on their editorial page, but if that was the case to please let me know now, so that I could pursue this other option. They said, "Your name's on it, you'll get the calls, so say what's on your mind." They could not have said anything that would have more effectively brought out the best in me.

Q: Do you prefer to draw about national or local issues?

A: The locals are more satisfying, but the syndicated work pays the bills. At least two of my cartoons each week are local, and they clearly engage my immediate audience most. I did a big collection of all local cartoons a couple years ago and it's easily my biggest-selling book so far. Sometimes I think that when I come toward the end of my career I may get out of syndication and just draw every day about this little burg. Man, you could watch the cockroaches scurry then.

Q: Garry Trudeau has admitted to having a special grudge against George Bush. Is there one person, in particular, that you have a tendency to pick on?

A: Simon Leis, the local philistine sheriff who shut down the Mapplethorpe exhibit here in Cincinnati a few years ago, has a special place in my spleen. He has a hilariously short fuse, so jabbing him is particularly rewarding. On the national stage, I've had favorite targets like Quayle and Reagan, whose very images on the TV screen made my head pound. I will never understand how people found Reagan to be likeable. He looked like a small-hearted, thick-headed phony from a mile away to me.

Q: How are things going with Wonk City?

A: I'm getting everything out of it that I had hoped: an adventure and an education. This is my first attempt at creating ongoing characters and telling stories, so there isn't a week goes by that I don't feel I'm in over my head. It's all very humbling, in one sense. It's also exciting to look at the comic pages with new eyes, a new appreciation for what others are doing.

It's a strip best appreciated by people who follow political minutiae, which weeds out a lot of folks. Lots of people here in the midwest, people with real lives and families to raise, have no idea what it's about, bless them. But it was conceived with a Washington audience in mind, and I get good comments from those circles. Someday I'll try something with a more general appeal.

Q: Some cartoonists feel that to have an editorial cartooning position and a syndicated strip, one or the other will suffer. What are your thoughts on this?

A: I don't know how someone could presume to know what someone else is capable of doing. You're the first to know if your own work is falling off, and I would think that anyone with integrity would know when to turn back. I'm not sure I could do a daily strip and six editorial cartoons a week, which is why I'm inching into the water with "Wonk City" once a week. But clearly there are people who can. There is even a school of thought that says the two can feed each other.

I visited Jeff MacNelly a couple years ago at his home. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was beginning to play with the idea of starting up a second feature and I wanted to observe just how overwhelming the workload was. Well, Jeff was not only doing editorial cartoons, a strip and a panel, illustrating a weekly Dave Barry column and various books, but he had a studio full of paintings, watercolors and sculptures in progress, too, as well as a few cars he was working on and some buildings he was designing. Some people are just wired differently. When someone says "You can't do both," they are really saying 'I can't do both."

Q: Could you name a cartoonist or cartoonists whose work really grabs your attention?

A: Lynda Barry comes to mind first. She knocks me out, one of the few cartoonists who can make me laugh and cry and wince. George Booth has such a great eye for real life and the way stuff falls apart. James Stevenson is the master of what I can't seem to learn, that loose is better than tight. Ronald Searle, of course, makes all cartoonists drool. Oliphant, Peters, Chuck Jones, KAL, Ted Rall, Signe Wilkinson, Tom Tomorrow, MacNelly, Auth, the list of contemporaries goes on and on. Of the forefathers I have learned the most from B. Frost and Ernest Shepard.

Q: Overall, do you think that editorial cartoonists illustrate their opinions from fact or media sensationalism?

A: I can't speak for others, but I try to understand a subject as well as I can before drawing about it. Recently the big news was about Alan Greenspan's manipulation of interest rates to manage the growth of the economy. Now, this is the sort of topic that Ph.D's in economics disagree on, that whole financial think tanks form around, and yet, sure enough, here comes the parade of snot- nosed editorial cartoonists logging in with their potshots, not a one of which had more than a newspaper story under their belt to back up their widely dispersed opinions. Some people don't take this calling very seriously. I think it's irresponsible to throw these bombs around with no one but Sam Donaldson telling you who to aim at.

Q: Basically, what is your opinion of the American media today?

A: The people I work with at the newspaper are smart, hardworking and decent. You can watch them every day doing a hell of a job. Yet The Enquirer scores low trust ratings among readers. What does it mean? Probably only that people have unrealistic expectations, low regard for messengers, and very broad brushes.

When I think of the media as David Broder, George Will, Anna Quindlen, Pat Oliphant, Herblock, Tom Brokaw, Susan Stamberg, Jim Lehrer, Clarence Page and Daniel Schorr, I have a mighty high regard indeed.

If by "media" it is meant the pack of jackals working the 0.J. Simpson trial or Rush Limbaugh or Jerry Springer, my opinion naturally drops off.
Q: You have mentioned that you would like to do a children's book. Have you pursued this?

A: Hard to imagine how I'll ever find the time. Abstractly, it interests me a lot, as does a picture book about the creative process, which is a little closer to the front burner. The Cincinnati community asks me to do a lot of work for good causes. though, and it's a high priority of mine to contribute in this way, so my time is pretty much spoken for. These projects I keep hoping to do seem to have receded into the distance each time I look up.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring editorial cartoonists?

A: Work from within yourself. Pay attention to your own rhythms rather than what you think editorial cartoons are supposed to look like. Feel art opinion rise up within you, then find a way, no matter how unorthodox, to say that opinion exactly as you experience it.

Q: Given the choice, would you rather have a conversation with Hillary Clinton or Newt Gingrich?

A: Tough choice. I think Hillary would be much smarter and we'd like each other more. But I think Newt is one of the most creative people I've watched. Most of his ideas repulse me and his style gets on my nerves, but I have to admire the way he thinks outside the box, unconventionally. I wish he was on my side.

Q: From a cartoonist's perspective, who had you hoped would be the Republican presidential candidate in 1996?

A: Oliver North

at 1/28/08, 3:04 PM Anonymous anonymous can copy and paste! said...

Thanks anonymous, your copy and paste technique is tremendous.

at 1/28/08, 3:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's all about the battle between the North and the South; the confereates still think there's a war and that they are goin to win; just live in Atalnta for a month and feel the hatred of the (majority) blacks (minority) against the whites and the hatred of the South toward the Yankees

at 1/28/08, 4:51 PM Anonymous Weekly Cartoonist said...

Le Legacy. Tres bon!

at 1/28/08, 8:16 PM Blogger who2 said...

Thanks, Jim. All great roughs.

at 1/28/08, 9:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

USA: freedom of speech until you piss somebody off

at 1/29/08, 4:40 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bill//hillary and obama one are good.

the others are old schtick. time to move forward

at 1/29/08, 8:55 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

a kennedy endorsement is about as useless as Bill Clinton's

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