TCJ 300 Conversations: Jim Borgman & Keith Knight

Posted by on December 24th, 2009 at 4:36 AM

 

Borgman:
Now here’s an observation, and I don’t know if this is an old-guy observation or not, but, like, it seems to me that when I started in cartooning, I knew who was out there. I had a sense that the field was finite. And that was because there were only x number of newspapers that had an editorial cartoonist, and I knew them all. There were only x number of syndicated cartoonists, comic strips, and I knew who those all were, eventually. Maybe this doesn’t work for other fields, gags and animation and stuff. But within the comic strips and editorial cartoons, I had a sense of what the field looked like. I knew who was out there and who was pushing what edges. And I don’t feel that any more. I’m willing to acknowledge that could just be because some of it’s passed me by and I don’t work as hard to know who all is out there. But my honest sense is just that the pool is a lot bigger now, that there are more people out there, and there are more people working the edges of the field than there used to be. Like you, here you are, you’re within various circles well established. You’ve been doing it for, what — how long?

Knight:
Sixteen years, 17 years.


©2009 Zits Partnership.


Borgman:
Sixteen years. In little Cincinnati, Ohio, I would not have found you if I’d only relied on print. One of the things I’m grateful for to the Internet is I can find a guy like Keith Knight, and I can find some of these other strips that are coming along that I don’t have a feel for yet. And in that sense it’s exciting. But for a control kind of person, it’s hard, because I feel like there’s a lot going on that I’m missing.

Knight:
Yeah. Well, I think that’s the case with anything that has to do especially with the Internet. It’s just like you go down a certain road and you find yourself staring at the computer at 3:30 in the morning, going “Jeez, where did that two hours go?” Seriously, the first time I discovered Napster, back in the day, and the first time I discovered YouTube, and then the first time I started following anything: videos of bands that I loved, like from way back in the day. One of my favorite bands is Cameo, which most white people know for “Word Up,” which is their big hit from the ’80s. Most black people know them from “Shake Your Pants,” which was this classic hit from the ’70s. And there’s footage of them on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert back in the ’70s, and it’s so amazing, and it’s live. It’s not lip-synching. By the time I got to that footage, I was just staring at it, and it was so late and I was on deadline — I was getting nothing done. I was like, “I can’t do this.” You’re basically opening up a can of worms trying to stay on top of how many cartoonists there are out there, and how many musicians there are out there, and how many comedy troupes there are out there, posting their stuff on YouTube. It’s insane. It’s crazy. Like you said, it’s a great thing, and it’s a horrible thing, because it eats up a lot of time. But the Internet allows people to post their stuff online and have people, potentially everyone with a computer and Internet hookup from many different countries, look at their stuff.


©2009 Zits Partnership.


Borgman:
That’s one thing that’s definitely changed over time for me. I had a blog when I was at the Enquirer, as an editorial cartoonist, and I developed a community of people who were cartooning in like Nicaragua. But I would see these names commenting over and over on my blog, and it did become kinda like we know each other, or at least we have a sense of who each other is. And that was a new feeling for me at the time.

Knight:
When I was traveling in my 20s and 30s, just going away for a month and staying at people’s houses that I met at my youth hostel — I used to work at a youth hostel in San Francisco — now, with the Internet, it’s so easy to say, “Hey, I’m coming out,” and set up these amazing tours all over the place.

Borgman:
You do that, huh? I heard of a guy doing that, kind of marginally successful. But he wanted to go on a book tour, and he just put it out there and his fans in various cities said, “Sure, stay with me.” Is that what you’re saying you do?

Knight:
Um… I did. [Laughs.] My wife’s not gonna be keen on — saying, “Who’s this woman you’re staying with?” [Borgman laughs.] But there’s all these things like couchsurfing.com. People have these networks of places, you can crash on people’s couches and stuff. There’s so many different resources now. That’s why the record industry freaked out, because they weren’t on top of their game, and so it took them 10 years to really start to catch up and embrace the fact that, yeah, people want to buy a single. For years, there were no singles any more. They were just selling albums. They’d put one good song on an album, and the rest would be crap, and they’d sell it for $15, a CD that cost them pennies to make, and they would totally milk it. So the best thing that could’ve happened was Napster. And, you know, what’s going on with the newspaper industry — the best thing that could’ve happened to the newspaper industry is the Internet, because it’s forcing the newspaper industry to really change. Drastically. If they want to survive, they have to change. They have to understand. It wasn’t like it was some big secret that the Internet was hiding somewhere.

Borgman:
[Laughs.] That’s a great way to look at it.

Be Sociable, Share!

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Tags: , ,

One Response to “TCJ 300 Conversations: Jim Borgman & Keith Knight”