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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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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thoughts on Collaboration

Jim -

I am in the early stages of a cartoon strip collaboration and am wondering what advice you might be able to provide. I'm the artist and my collaboration partner is the writer.


Good luck, WB,

My thoughts, for what they're worth:

First, make sure you like your partner. There is no way to do a comic strip together without intricately interweaving your lives. You will begin thinking with one brain. Like the old TV commercial, you will see him through your medicine cabinet every morning when you wake up. You will pull each other through thick and thin in more ways than you can imagine.

Find ways to split the work in half, just as you're splitting the income. Otherwise resentment will fester. There are many many aspects of the work besides the drawing and the writing. Who will do the books and banking for the partnership? Answer fan mail? Send out originals and prints for donation? Design and manage the website? Arrange the sale of originals when they come in? Approve book dummies? Interface with the syndicate? File the copyrights? Both partners should feel they are doing half of the work and spending equal amounts of time. (Jerry Scott and I say we have a great partnership because we each do two-thirds of the work.)

Agree to a schedule. I'm fortunate to have a partner with the same sense of responsibility for deadlines as I have. It’s stressful when one partner is an early bird and the other pushes every deadline to the limit. If lateness causes late fees to be assessed, charge them to the partner who is responsible for the work being behind schedule. That's only fair.

In our case, the work has become very organic. I contribute to many ideas and storylines; Jerry contributes to all drawings. You may prefer to have a firewall between the two. In any case, for the first years, be sure you are communicating with your partner thoroughly and that you both feel the writing and the drawing is as good as it can be. For years we would go over every Zits rough on the phone to punch it up as high as we could. Try not to be defensive about your half of the production. If your partner has a good suggestion, take it willingly. If you feel s/he's off track, express it diplomatically.

Give credit to your partner freely. Acknowledge in public and in private his/her strengths. Don't blame.

Everything relating to the strip should be owned and owed 50/50. Don't give resentment any toehold in your partnership.

I hope this helps.

Good luck,
Jim Borgman


at 1/3/08, 1:21 PM Blogger Rus said...


Are you talking about Zits or Marriage? :-)

Sound advice for either in my opinion.

at 1/7/08, 11:37 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

ask Dr. Phil; he knows everything, even how to "help" Britaney Spears and Oprah (and Obama?) godhelpusall

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