Last week, I was approached by an editor who asked if I would be able to do a book review.

“Sure,” I said, mostly because I was in a bit of a lull and was willing to have anything to occupy my time.

She went off to her desk to fetch the book and returned with “ZITS: CHILLAX,” a illustrated novel based on the 1997-birthed comic strip, ZITS.

I’ve seen it before. I used to read the comic strips occasionally. Now I usually gloss over them and regard them as entertainment for those too lackadaisical to read the REAL news.

But I agreed to read it and give it a go. I started reading and was surprisingly captivated. The storyline was easy to follow and the illustrations entertaining.

The style is quite remarkable, really. I had expected it to be a story with illustrations on the side, you know, like a picture book. Text on the left page, image on the right. But this story is different. The text and images are fully integrated. On several occasions, I read through a chunk of prose and glossed over the image, pegging it as insignificant. A few lines later, I realized that I had missed a chunk of dialogue. Where was it? It was in the illustration, and only in the illustration. It wasn’t repetitious; it was fully-integrated.

I actually had to re-train my mind to read this book correctly. It’s brilliant, truly. Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman are actually genius minds.

Along with their spectacular integration of text and visual, they captured the teenage vernacular and habits with precision. For two men who have been out of the teenage years for a significant amount of time – and, nonetheless, would describe present-day teenage life as quite different than what theirs was – they get it. Somehow, they are able to articulate what typifies a teenager’s mind.

Essentially, I was impressed by the book despite my initial skepticism.

My positive impression skyrocketed when I had the chance to do a phone interview with both Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman.

Mind you, both have one numerous awards. Borgman even has a Pulitzer Prize. (Gulp.)

And sometimes big name people come across as too busy to talk to a lowly reporter in Lancaster County… but with these two, quite the contrary was true.

Both were so affable in conversation. They both made a point to ask about me, Lancaster and my role with the newspaper.

When I was talking to Jerry, he asked if I had any career aspirations. I told him that my degree will be in Communications, but I am not sure how I want to use that yet.

This is what he said:

“You didn’t ask me for advice, but I’m going to give it to you.

Find what you like to do, and do that. Do that really, really hard with all your heart.”

Find out what I like to do, and do that. Do that really, really hard with all my heart.

Thanks, Jerry. I’ll treasure that advise – not just because it comes from an acclaimed cartoonist, but because it’s a beacon of light as I move forward towards a career.

And Jerry & Jim: I think I’m going to venture into the “silly section” of the newspaper and starting reading ZITS regularly.

0 thoughts on “Advice from a cartoonist.

  1. Enjoyed reading about your opportunity to talk with the writer and illustrator and also to get “free” advice in the midst of the interview! And by the way, I do enjoy reading a few of the cartoons in the daily paper – a lighter view on life in the midst of sometimes sad and overwhelming news.

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