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Koterba recounts quest to professional cartooning

In a three-part article, Omaha World-Herald editorial cartoonist Jeff Koterba writes his personal history as a child discovering cartooning and his efforts to become a professional cartoonist.

On my first day as The World-Herald’s new cartoonist, Frank Partsch, then the editor of the editorial pages, led me to what he called “the cartoonist’s office.” It was July 1989, and as Frank unlocked the door, a stale mustiness confronted us. The room was empty, save for an old desk, probably not even my mentor Ed Fischer’s old desk. I studied the worn green carpet for evidence of eraser dust, inkblots. Nothing. The view from the southern window, which faced the new phone company building, was divided into lines by dusty blinds. The vibrancy I had experienced when visiting Ed years before, the magic, was somehow missing, or at least hiding in the corner of the room. As I stepped beyond the doorway and Frank handed me the key, a mix of emotions ran through me. This was a pinnacle moment. After all, hadn’t I dreamed for years of one day becoming a full-time cartoonist? But my joy was entwined with overwhelming fear. What had I gotten myself into? How could I possibly come up with six cartoons in the next week? And the week after? Year after year?

Frank sent me to Standard Blue, an art and drafting supply store, where I picked out a drawing table, pens and brushes, bottles of ink and sheets of illustration board. Eventually, I positioned the drawing table in front of the window, which I cracked open, the motors and brakes of traffic from Dodge Street two floors below creating soothing white noise to send my cartooning mind running wild.

Community Comments

#1 Rick Stromoski
May/28/2008
@ 8:36 am

Jeff is not only a great cartoonist , “He’s the fearless bandleader, guitarist, principal songwriter and vocalist extraordinaire who heads an 8-piece band that delivers an all-original “pop-swing” mix of jump-blues, big band, rockabilly, latin and bop, delivered in an all-out rock attack. But it all swings, Jack…make no mistake about it. ”

The Prarie Cats played at 3 of the Reubens and they were outstanding. Jeff is a true Renaissance man.

#2 J.G Moore
May/28/2008
@ 6:42 pm

Wow. Reading that entry is great. That last sentence is wonderful. That must have been a great felling of achievement.

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