Inside a cartoonist’s mind

May 15, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

The editorial cartoonist has been called the strongest single voice in a publication – if a publication has one. Sadly, and inexplicably, that voice is being snuffed out by short-sighted and bean-counting newspaper publishers. The year 2005 was not a good one for newspaper editorial cartoonists with a number of high-profile cartoonists losing their jobs because of general cutbacks.
One of those who is still drawing, thankfully, is Jim Borgman, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He’s one of the best, and now he has decided to share more than his cartoons with the public.
He has begun a weblog called BorgBlog where he puts his sketches and his thoughts about cartooning.

Borgman explains that he was never much good at keeping a sketchbook, even though all of his art teachers told him that’s what he should do. But a few years ago, he took an idea from a friend who kept a book filled with clippings, thoughts, pictures, etc. He decided that was the better method for him, too, as he explained in his initial posting:

That’s what you’ll see on this blog – notes I’ve taken while reading the paper over coffee, starter sketches, doodles from meetings, whimsical caricatures. Some turn into cartoons for the editorial page. Some wait for me to discover their potential another day.

He went into more detail in a later posting:

This blog is intended to be a peak over my shoulder as I go about the process of creating my editorial cartoons. I’ll post notes I scribble over coffee in the morning, doodles during meetings and some rough pencil sketches that develop throughout the day – that is, the raw materials that go into the finished drawings you see on the editorial page. This blog is most likely to be refreshed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

And quite a peek it is.

Borgman explains and shows how a cartoon about the West Virginia mining tragedy developed. (Cartoons, by the way, aren’t always funny.) He presents three different versions of the cartoon that show how he decided to place the miner’s wife, and he talks about his thinking that led him to the final version.
Those of us who are envious of the cartoonist’s skills are going to enjoy this blog.

Jim Stovall (Posted Jan. 10, 2006)

(Thanks to Jonathan Dube at for pointing out this blog.)

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