Ask A Cartoonist: I Spy

By Tea Fougner

This week’s question came from Jim Borgman of Zits! He wanted to know what each of our creators sees from their office or workroom while they’re slaving away on the comics we all love so much!

Rina Piccolo, Six Chix and Tina’s Groove:

My place is all windows windows windows, and so I’ll show you what I see from the windows on the left side of my work area, and the view from my right… I live downtown, and have an excellent view of the Toronto skyline…I never get tired of spying out these windows…




Jim Borgman, Zits:

I’ve had seven different studio spaces during my career, and the two I’ve liked the best had very different views on the world.

As an editorial cartoonist at the Cincinnati Enquirer my 19th floor office looked out on a fascinating urban landscape — a spaghetti of highways, the Bengals football stadium, the Ohio river and, beyond that, the hills of northern Kentucky.

But I always drew Zits from a studio in my home. These days that’s in the Colorado mountains where I look out my window into a forest of lodgepole and ponderosa pines, aspens and the occasional moose.

John Hambrock, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee:

“My studio windows overlook Kenosha Harbor, Lake Michigan and our historic lighthouse. Anyone who has ever visited Kenosha can attest to the beautiful sunrises we get here. If I arrive early enough in the morning, I can watch all the fishing boats leaving the harbor. It also means listening to Reveille at 6 am from the Coast Guard station across the harbor. “


Marcus Hamilton, Dennis the Menace:

The view outside my studio window is not as appealing as the two furry creatures
lying in my window. Mini and Buttons have staked out my window sill as their napping place
and they keep me smiling while I’m drawing.

Jeff Parker, Dustin:

My home studio overlooks our lush, Florida backyard full of oaks, Spanish moss, pines, palms, ferns, azaleas, camellias, birds and butterflies. Lovely, really.

But mostly what I see when taking in what should be an idyllic view is a constant stream of double-chinned, mooching squirrels raiding sunflower seed from the bird feeder.

This infuriates me to the point of running around the backyard in my “lounge pants”, flip flops (with socks), making enraged rodent clicking noises, and throwing sticks at the larcenous little tree-rats. The dinky jerks just laugh and cuss me out in squirrel from a nearby branch.

I’ve begun secretly Googling squirrel-meat chili recipes.

Over the years, my human-sized brain has devised numerous means to defeat their rodent-sized intellect — grease, Tabasco, barbed wire, encouraging snake residency, and acquiring all kinds of expensive squirrel-proof feeders that don’t so much as slow them down. I’ve even succumbed to buying an actual squirrel feeder which they ignore completely. There’s no sport in it I guess.

The little brushy-tailed punks’ ingenuity at getting to the loot would be admirable if it weren’t so #%&$ maddening. And tapping on the glass of the studio window when the feeder is running low doesn’t help either, guys.

The hope I cling to for my sanity’s sake is that the copious amount of birdseed they gorge on will one day render them so obese and lethargic they won’t be able to climb up to, leap at, or knock over the feeder anymore.

Don’t get me started on their summer habit of one-bite-and-tossing the figs.


John Rose, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith:

My studio is on the downstairs level of our home and my only window is actually behind me, so when I look up from my drawing table I see the things that occupy my studio. My studio is filled with many Snuffy Smith items that I have found on eBay. These include Snuffy toys, patches, a planter that I have repurposed to hold my drawing pens, a serving tray from the old Snuffy’s Shanty restaurant chain, a large Snuffy stuffed figure given to me by a client newspaper in Texas and much more. I also have lots of family photos and photos of some of my cartoonist friends, including the one in this picture of me with Marcus Hamilton, the late Bil Keane and Ron Ferdinand from many years ago. My walls are filled with original art by many of my cartoonist friends, as well. Here you can see amazing Beetle Bailey art by Greg and Mort Walker and a signed Blondie print by Dean Young. I like to think that these items, especially the Snuffy Smith memorabilia, serve as inspiration when creating the comic strip each day!


Alex Hallatt, Arctic Circle:

This year, we are living in Spain and don’t have internet at home (it was hard enough to open a bank account). My workspace is often the library, or our local cafe, which have wifi. The cafe is called Amona Margarita and it makes the best coffee in town, fantastic bread and awesome pain au chocolate (“napolitana chocolate”). And it’s (boyfriend and) dog friendly!


Bill Holbrook, Kevin & Kell, On the Fastrack, and Safe Havens:

What do I see out of my office window? The same thing I always see. 🙂


Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey:

I have a tremendous studio, 60 feet high and 50 x 50 wide with an 8 foot high fireplace and a hundred cartoons and illustrations coating the walls so I have a lot to look at inside. But the little corner I work in has a nice view of the river below and a million trees filling the landscape. Want me to count them…one…two…three…

Gary Brookins, Shoe:

The timing on this is GREAT! … This week, I’m working from my Mom’s home in Florida, and this is the view out the window on the porch I use as my “studio” overlooking the bayou I grew up on.

My view our the studio window back in Richmond is, well, a little less “picturesque” … I can see my neighbors roof over the top of a line of holly trees.

Isabella Bannerman, Six Chix:

I did this painting of the Hudson Palisades one November from my studio. It’s not the whole view (otherwise you’d see wires, cars, street lights, etc.) but it’s my favorite part.


Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead:

Right above my drawing table is a skylight (see attached strip). I see many tree branches if I look up–and the occasional squirrel scampering across.

I live in a pretty rural area, so outside my other 3 studio windows (my studio is a separate building from my house), I see more trees, part of a stone wall and, in the distance, the side of a neighbor’s garage.

I also see the sunset from these windows— these days more often than not, it’s a brilliant day-glo orange.

(The book referred to below, Invisible Ink, as you may know, is now out and available)


Brian Walker, Hi and Lois:

I can see the Silvermine Art Center from the window of my studio. Attached is a photo of the sculpture studio.


Jerry Scott, Baby Blues and Zits:

These hills. 


And the neighbors.