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.
R.I.P. Sgt. Matt Maupin
The remains of Sgt. Matt Maupin have been identified after four years of being listed as Missing/Captured in Iraq. Matt was a local soldier and yellow ribbons have remained tied to trees throughout this area since he first went missing on April 9, 2004.
Whenever I talk to my buddy on the west coast around this time of year and mention Opening Day, he askes, "Opening day of what?" After a dozen years of this ritual, I have to assume it's just to annoy me, but it reminds me that to much of the misguided world the beginning of baseball season is just another day. Man, what keeps them going through February and March? (Oh yeah, on the west coast the answer would be, "Surfing, going to the beach, strawberry season, biking, hiking....")
Well, here where you can't feel your toes for months at a time the coming of baseball season is sometimes the only thing that keeps us sane. We don't arrive at the park in the third inning and leave in the seventh. We know how to balance two metts and a beer on our laps while we clap for mediocre teams. Thousands of Greater Cincinnatians will line up along a parade route in the rain this morning to watch Pete Rose look-alikes wave from a float.
It's a Cincinnati thing -- you wouldn't understand.
Monday is Opening Day here in Cincinnati, an unofficial secular holiday. When I was in elementary school, if you showed your teacher a ticket to the Opening Day game you were excused from school for the day.
My files are brimming with baseball cartoons. Here are a few I like from previous years.
Uncharacteristically, my wife and I have put off doing our taxes until this weekend, so we're facing a deadly Saturday of organizing papers and receipts. It strikes me that it's the left-brain equivalent to what I've been doing the rest of this week: crunching to meet a couple dozen right-brain deadlines. My brain will have had a good cross-training workout by Monday.
A Little More Q&A
Q. I thought you weren't going to delete all my #@!*%$# obnoxious comments!
A. I changed my mind.
New rules: Civility gets published, incivility doesn't, regardless of political viewpoint. Spammers and barkers, go elsewhere. Sports statistics go in the box scores.
A Little More Q&A
OK, this time I'll be more serious.
Q. Paul B said...
Which state and local politicians do you enjoy drawing -- and which do you think you ought to draw more often?
A. Not sure about the "ought" part -- I draw what I see and have thoughts about.
Of the local politicians I enjoy drawing, I like Mayor Mark's thin, angular face and tiny horizontal glasses; I've always enjoyed Simon Leis's great bullet head, especially when he's angry and pink; Tarbell is Christmas morning for a cartoonist; Steve Chabot's big stone head and Jean Schmidt's severe bun are trademarks; I have a file full of Roxanne, though none recently; and I'm still getting the hang of the caricature-defying Ted Strickland.
My nonpolitical local favorites: Nancy Zimpher in red plaid and Bengal warden Marvin Lewis.
Gone but not forgotten: Pete Rose, Marge Schott, Nux, Dave Mann, Norm Murdock, Tom Luken, John Mirlisena, Ken Blackwell, Lincoln Stokes, Sam Wyche, Bob Taft and Jerry Springer.
A Little Q&A
BorgFan posted a few questions awhile back:
Q. Jim, what are some of your favorite things to draw?
A. People. Big doughy ones, particularly, such as I grew up among in Price Hill. Disheveled homes with stacks of magazines on the end tables and kids banging on pianos. Teenagers in someone else's clothes. Big mammals. Waitresses at Big Boy. Dinosaurs and baseball players. People with their mouths wide open. Hectic family life. Big guys in tight spaces. Dogs posing as humans. Literary figures. Backs of heads. Kids jumping on each other. People carrying laundry baskets. Giant planets splitting in half. People disappearing into a time warp.
I hate drawing cats and trains and anything seriously architectural.
Q. Why do you tape your drawing paper to your board when you draw?
A. I like drawing into a stiff wind.
Q. Do you have assistants? What do they do for you?
A. Tons of assistants. Several stay busy just burning old roughs. Another's sole assignment is to contact the target of the next day's cartoon to be sure they have the proper sedatives on hand. One assistant had collagen injections just so she could bring the tip of my brushes to a perfect point. I hardly know what to do with all the help around here.
Meeting Cy Hungerford
An email from fellow cartoonist Justin Green recounted his first brush with a professional cartoonist when Justin was 14. An excerpt:"How well I remember the cold December day in ‘59 when I marched through the golden revolving doors of the Tribune Towers and demanded to see Carey Orr, as if that was my birthright. I was only 14. It was so windy that I was literally carried aloft for a few steps by my gigantic portfolio on the bridge over the Chicago River. The kindly guard said that he would give my message to Mr. Orr. Fifteen minutes later, he brought down a finished panel with apologies from the old master. “Mr. Orr is not able to speak with you at this time, but he wants you to have this drawing.” I was as overwhelmed by the gesture as by the look of the thing: it was four times bigger than a published piece and it had little notations in the margins and visible blue pencil! I thought his front page cartoons were drawn to scale, directly in ink."
Justin's memory prompted my own equivalent:
A relative of mine in Pittsburgh learned that I’d been hired at the Enquirer and wrangled an invitation for me to visit with the ancient editorial cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cy Hungerford. Cy was maybe 85 at the time and continued to come to work and draw a tired old editorial cartoon daily, even after they’d thrown several retirement parties for him. I drove to Pittsburgh, heart in throat, as I’d never met a cartoonist of any kind before.
Cy was burrowed into this cave of an office like an old badger from The Wind in the Willows. In memory he was drawing with a quill pen, though that is almost certainly not true; but it is true that his inkwell was now a mound like an anthill with a hole in the middle, the result of years and years of dribbled ink. It reminded me of candlewax down the sides of a chianti bottle, or a stalagmite on the floor of a cave. Cy looked at me through his thick glasses and spent an hour telling me about his career: drawing on assignment at the coronation of Edward VI or somesuch, and the drawings he did when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, Lincoln was shot, and Anne Boleyn was beheaded. I felt about three inches tall when he asked to see my work. He swept the Magna Carta and Treaty of Versailles off his desk to make room and I laid out the six drawings that constituted my lifetime output of published editorial cartoons. One, I remember, had Gerald Ford riding an elephant.
The sweet man suggested we trade originals. He picked one of mine and gave me one from his drawer showing his character Pa Pitt sitting atop the courthouse commenting on Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, I think. He allowed me to leave feeling almost like a colleague, which made the six-hour drive home seem like an instant.
Feel free to share any memory you might have of meeting your first cartoonist.
Oldie for Caroline
Here's an oldie from my files, put up by request. Wish I had more occasion to draw dinosaurs. I did a lot of them when my son was five but I've gotten out of the habit.
I just wanted to say Thank You for the comments everyone has been posting lately. The last few posts' exchanges particularly have been uplifting because we're all talking with each other instead of at each other. Thanks. This is more fun.
By the way, a reader or two have mentioned the removal of comments from the posts. I want you to know that no comment is ever removed because of an opposing viewpoint, as charged. I sometimes remove the spammer's long cut-and-pastes, the Boston statistics guy, and the guy with the uncontrollable urge to bark bizarre nonsequeters so that the rest of us can talk and debate. I consider it the blogging equivalent of picking up litter in the park.
Union Terminal Field Trip
You'd think that working for a newspaper editorial page would be about all the excitement a guy could handle, but you'd be wrong. The other day our department took a day-long field trip to visit behind the scenes at the 75-year-old Union Terminal building, current home of the Cincinnati Museum Center and formerly the most magnificent art deco train station ever built.
Head honcho Doug MacDonald and some of his staff took us into the bowels of the building, along the catwalks just behind the front windows of the building, and up over the top of the rotunda.
Here's a view to the left (into the rotunda) and then to the right (city view) through open windows on the highest catwalk. The catwalk is maybe three feet wide, sandwiched between two walls of windows.
The mechanism behind the huge clock on the front of the building.
The building's former life as a train station is still happily preserved. Check out these awesome mosaic murals. One stands beside the door for departing passengers, the other signals arrivals. How cool is that?
They've even preserved the color sketches the muralist worked from.
Eventually we made our way crosstown to the Geier Building, where the scientists and archivists do the real grunt work. They work with tons of great stuff -- stuffed mammals and birds, trilobytes, a whole roomful of snakes preserved in jars of alcohol, cool artifacts from Polynesian islands, Civil War uniforms and swords. They have drawers and drawers full of birds. It's nuts.
Thanks for prying us out of the office for a day, Doug. But that last photo reminds me, I've got deadlines.
Little Mister Sunshine
The Enquirer will devote a lot of space this coming week to Sunshine Laws which ensure government transparency and accountability, which is a good thing. It's a rare occasion when my editor asks me to essentially illustrate a Forum piece, and I'm happy to oblige.
World Water Week
My family visited Siem Reap, Cambodia last year and visited the staggeringly beautiful temples of Angkor Wat, awesome sights I never imagined I'd see in this lifetime. Our guide Sothy had the glowing inner peace we saw in so many Buddhists on our trip, despite the horrors he and his countrymen had suffered under the Khmer Rouge. Traveling in Buddhist countries put our western lifestyle in a new perspective for me, and I still reflect on the remarkable calm and kindness of the people we met in Cambodia and Thailand.
But the people of Siem Reap are crushingly poor.
Sothy took my family on a boat trip on a large lake from which we were able to observe a village in the course of its everyday life. We saw the residents washing their clothes on the rocks beside the lake, cooking in their open-air huts and going about their humble business, all with water dipped from the lake which also carried human waste. Both their humanity and their poverty affected us deeply and we came away asking Sothy how an outsider could help his much-abused country.
Most of their physical problems stemmed from poor sanitation, he explained, and a pump in a village could bring hygiene, safer food and improved health. When a village got a water pump, diarrhea dropped almost to zero and child death rates plummeted.
A pump in a village allowed the children, especially girls, to go to school instead of spending their days carrying water from the nearest river. Families could grow gardens and sometimes establish small businesses. My wife, a professor at NKU, has always believed that education is the key to a better life, and it became clear that safe water was the key to getting an education for these people.
We asked, "How much does it cost to install a pump for a village?"
"Very expensive," answered Sothy. "About one hundred American dollars."
We stared at each other. How many hundred dollars have we wasted in our lifetimes? Our new mission was clear. Through the organization Journeys Within Our Community
we have been financing wells and scholarships since our return home.
One more story: My stepdaughter Mandi took action then and there. She began buying up the handmade bracelets children sell at every tourist stop, usually ten for a dollar. When Mandi returned home she sold the bracelets at her school for two dollars each and ultimately raised enough money to finance eleven village pumps in Cambodia all by herself.