The Illustrious Cartoon

January 29 – March 12

Cartoon – A drawing depicting a humorous situation, often accompanied by a caption. Illustration – Visual matter used to clarify or decorate a text.

Based on the stated definitions, it would seem that a cartoon must be humorous, but that an illustration need not be. When an illustration is humorous, does it become a cartoon? The Alva Gallery is pleased to confuse the question in a new exhibition The Illustrious Cartoon, a show of cartoons and illustrations, you decide which is which, by Jim Borgman, Jon Buller, Matt Davies, Bill Griffith and Phil Hands.

Jim Borgman, a native of Cincinnati, has been the editorial cartoonist for the Cincinnati Enquirer since a week after his 1976 graduation from Kenyon College. Borgman graduated summa cum laude and was the cartoonist for the school newspaper, the Kenyon Collegian, for four years. It was on the strength of that work that the newspaper hired him. It was a smart decision; in the intervening years he has been a three-time winner of the Reuben Award (Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year) and was a 1991 Pulitzer Prize recipient as well as a finalist in 1996. Borgman calls himself a “progressive iconoclast with a dirt-under-my-fingernails conservative streak.” He cartoons are laser sharp yet tempered by a human spirit. Jim Borgman is the co-creator, with Jerry Scott, of the comic strip Zits.

Phil Hands is also a Kenyon graduate, class of 2003, cum laude with a double major in political science and studio art. Like Borgman, he was the Collegian cartoonist during his four years at the college. Hands began his career in 1998 in his native Michigan when he was hired by the Grosse Pointe news to be their political cartoonist. Unlike Borgman, he did not walk into a steady job a week after graduation. In fact, according to his website, “he is trying desperately to find somebody who would be willing to pay him something resembling a living wage for his cartoons.”

Matt Davies came to the United States from his native England in 1983. After studying illustration and fine art at the Savannah College of Art and Design, he attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. From there he began his career, in 1993, at the Journal News in Westchester, New York. Syndicated since 1994, his cartoons are distributed worldwide and appear regularly in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He was the 2004 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartoons. He also received the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Award for a collection of his work highlighting such subjects as police brutality, racism and school overcrowding. Davies is the president of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists.

Bill Griffith began his career as a cartoonist in New York City in 1969. His first strips featured an angry amphibian called Mr. The Toad and were published in the East Village Other and Screw Magazine. In 1970 he moved to San Francisco and became part of the burgeoning underground comic movement. The first Zippy strip appeared in 1970 and continues today in over 200 newspapers worldwide. Aside from being an international recognized character, Zippy is also included in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for coining the phrase, “Are we having fun yet?” Griffith currently resides in East Haddam, CT with his wife cartoonist Diane Noomin.

Jon Buller, born in Texas and raised on Long Island, received an A.B. from Columbia College in New York where he met Bill Griffith. It was through his friendship with Bill Griffith that Buller was led to try cartooning. His first job, which lasted from 1974 to 1992, was as the cartoonist for the Old Lyme Gazette that eventually became the Pictorial-Gazette. In addition to his newspaper work, Buller is the illustrator and/or author of over forty whimsical books for children, including “No Tooth, No Quarter” and “20,000 Baseball Cards under the Sea”. He has also designed a pack of tarot cards, a small selection of which will be on view.

VIEW ARTISTS:   Jim Borgmann (Creator of ZITS)   |   Jon Buller   |   Bill Griffith (Creator of Zippy the Pinhead)   |   Phil Hands