See All Topics

Home / Section: Cartoonist's Cartoonists

Cartoonist’s Cartoonists: Jerry Scott

Lightening doesn’t often strike twice in the comics world. Jerry Scott is the co-creator of two of the most widely syndicated comic strips on the market right now – Baby Blues and Zits. Jerry’s cut his teeth in syndication back in 1983 when he took over Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy comic strip which he did for for 12 years eventually handing it over to Guy Gilchirst in 1995.

In 1990, he and Rick Kirkman launched Baby Blues – a comic initially based on Jerry’s young family. In 1995, Rick won the National Cartoonists Society’s Best Newspaper Strip division award. The rules were subsequently changed to honor both the writer and artist (Jerry is the writer for Baby Blues) to prevent future snubs to a comic’s co-creator. In 1997 he and Jim Borgman set a new comic launch record when over 200 newspapers signed up for Zits. With the NCS award rules changed, Jerry was properly recognized both in 1998 and 1999 when he and Jim were honored with Best Newspaper Strip. In 2001, Jerry was awarded Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year by the NCS.

Here is the list of the 10 cartoonists who Jerry cites as the major influences on his own work or who impresses him.

George Herriman – I was introduced to his work 30 years ago when I was living in Arizona. His scratchy pen line, beautiful compositions and wacky characters were a delight. I built a studio next to our Arizona house and had some of the small symbols he often used in the strip sculpted into the stucco above the studio door.

Charles Schulz – Sparky’s writing was a major influence on mine. And I learned to draw by copying Snoopy and Woodstock.

Ernie Bushmiller – I was asked to take over Nancy in 1983, and did it not out of admiration for the strip, but because it was a way for me to be a syndicated cartoonist, no assembly required. I can’t say that I was ever a fan of Ernie’s work, but studying and attempting to carry a strip with a legacy gave me a real-world education in the language and symbolism of comics for which I’ll always be grateful.

Garry Trudeau – There isn’t anybody in the comics business doing better work. Doonesbury is always fresh, uncompromising and sharp. Consistency, consistency, consistency.

Bill Watterson – Calvin and Hobbes rediscovered the freedom and imagination that exists in comics. We all learned a lot from him.

Jim Davis – I saw Garfield introduced as a new strip while pouring over back copies of Editor & Publisher one afternoon in the Phoenix Public Library. I turned to Rick Kirkman and said, “This one has a chance of making it.” I was right.

Rick Kirkman – Rick and I have been friends for over 35 years. From the day we met I’ve been a big fan of his drawing and character design abilities and thought that someday he would be a great cartoonist. Turns out I was right about that, too.

Jim Borgman – Nobody will ever know how much of the Zits load Jim has carried over the years. I’m sure not going to tell. He’s a great collaborator, has a vicious sense of humor and is (duh) a superb artist. The guy is fearless with a #3 Windsor & Newton sable brush between his fingers.

Ed Mell – Not a cartoonist, but Ed is a magnificent painter, good friend and a real gentleman. His jaw-dropping landscapes of the Arizona outback are not to be missed. Ed’s work got me interested in oil painting.

JohnIrvingNormanLearLarryGelbartJamesBrooksDavidSedaris – I had to save room for a few of the writers I admire and am inspired by.

Community Comments

#1 Bob Andelman
July/6/2010
@ 11:15 am

Jerry Scott talked about Zits and Baby Blues–along with his partners Jim Borgman and Rick Kirkman, respectively–on Mr. Media Radio in September 2008: http://www.mrmedia.com/2008/09/zits-and-baby-blues-cartoonists-jerry.html

#2 Ted Rall
July/7/2010
@ 8:20 pm

Jerry Scott is very impressive. So are his influences. But, @Alan, I am repeatedly confused by your “cartoonists’ cartoonists” taglines. When I see that, I think you literally mean “cartoonists’ cartoonists”?i.e., cartoonists who may or may not be widely known but are highly regarded by their peers, like Jules Feiffer and, among editorial cartoonists, Steve Sack.

This category of post is fascinating, but more properly should be renamed something like “cartoonists’ influences.”

Carry on.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.