Editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman spent 32 years at a Cincinnati Enquirer drawing board — popping the pompous, slamming the stupid, praising on occasion and needling as needed.

The 54-year-old married father of five (two biological, three stepchildren) is the Enquirer’s only Pulitzer Prize winner and a Cincinnati lifer: born on the West Side, St. William’s grade school, Elder High School class of ’72, and four years at Kenyon College (class of ’76). He spent the rest of his working life at the Enquirer, the last 12 of those years working two jobs — one as editorial cartoonist, the other as co-author of the national comic strip “Zits” (created with “Baby Blues” cartoonist Jerry Scott). He left the paper in September when he accepted a “voluntary separation” buyout.

You were one of the most respected media voices in town, but you walked away. Why? I chose to go because I was just too damn busy. For 12 years I did the (daily) cartoon and “Zits,” and it was taking a toll. Granted, it’s not digging ditches, but it was still a lot of hours at a drawing board. Typically, I would work all day at the paper, come home, eat dinner and then go hole up for five hours every night on “Zits.” So I started looking for a way to simplify things.

How does it feel? It feels good. Really good, but still kind of odd. I’ve never transitioned before. I came here as a 22-year-old kid and never left. Now I’m finding how many layers of change you have to work through when you transition. The main one is just figuring out how to spend your time right.

Walk us through a typical post-Enquirer day. I still get up early, out of guilt I guess, then spend my 90 minutes on health, maybe riding an exercise bike or going to the gym. Jerry (Scott) gave me a yoga mat and DVD as a retirement gift, and I’m about to tackle that soon. After the exercise I go to the coffee shop and read the (New York)Times andEnquirer. Then I go home, flip on ESPN or some music and get to work by 11 or so and hang in there, maybe with a tuna fish break, until I start dinner.
What do you miss about newsroom life? You know, I was asking myself that the other day and honestly, I can’t find anything except the people.

What don’t you miss? I off-loaded a lot of stress by leaving. By that I mean the daily panic. In theory I should miss coming up with a great idea and sending it out to the world. But right now, I don’t. I know that someday I’m going to, just not yet.

What does the future hold? There are new frontiers every day. TheEnquirer asked for something for Sundays and I will, but I don’t know what it will be yet. Right now I’m still in my backlash period and not thinking about the larger world. There are also some “Zits” expansions possible. We’re exploring animation programs for cell phones and there’s been some very preliminary talk about TV.

If you had to start a new career tomorrow, what would it be? I want Thane Maynard’s job (Cincinnati Zoo executive director). I can’t imagine anything better. I’ll probably be looking into volunteer opportunities there some day soon because I suspect they’re not going to give me Thane’s job. When I was growing up, I first wanted to be a priest. When I got a little older, I wanted to be a zookeeper. Now that I’m much older, I realize my job at the paper blended those two nicely — I had a pulpit and I got paid to watch the animals in their natural habitat.
jonathan willis