Part of the Omaha World-Herald 125th year commemoration, editorial cartoonist Jeff Koterba writes about his work in the paper and about his daily process.
I start my day by reading the Omaha World-Herald and other newspapers. I also check other sources — TV, radio — but it really takes a newspaper’s content to give me ideas. Broadcast news rarely offers the depth of information required for a cartoon. I also read lots of books. There’s just something about the written word that I connect with, that gets my creative juices flowing. I also occasionally do additional research and investigation. And, because I’m a naturally curious person, I love meeting and hearing from our readers about what’s on their minds. Coming up with the idea is the most challenging part of my job. On rare but lucky days, the ideas come quickly, like a flash, a moment of inspiration. But mostly, looking for ideas is an arduous process, requiring lots of sketching, thinking and walking around. Also, coffee. Lots of coffee.
A few years ago, we began printing my cartoons in color, so after finishing the black-and-white drawing I color in the cartoon. I photocopy the black-and-white version onto a second sheet of Bristol board and then paint in the cartoon using good old watercolors.
If I mess up, I just make another copy and start again. I have nothing against using computer software to color cartoons, I just love the tactile nature of painting, the feel of hand on paper, the feel of the brush, paint and ink on my fingers. This reminds me that I’m not just a journalist, but an artist, too. A cartoonist once asked me what software I used to get such an authentic and natural watercolor look. That was quite satisfying.