It might be safe to say that 2020 has been a wild ride from start to finish.
Between protests and calls for police reform, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its corresponding shutdowns, the economy’s downturn and a drawn-out election, chaotic may be the understatement of the year.
But as the year draws to an end and people look forward to the new 2021, local cartoonist Ron Hill said he doesn’t believe this is a year that can be completely left behind, and his upcoming book, “BB BluesBird and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year,” set to publish this January, will certainly make sure of that.
“I think 2020 has obviously been an extremely impactful year [for] everybody,” Mr. Hill said. “It’s changed the way everybody works, lives, comports themselves with family, the whole thing.”
He added that while it seems the public is in collective agreement that 2021 can’t come soon enough, “I don’t think we should forget 2020. I don’t think we can put it in the rear view mirror that easily.”
Readers can look back at the year through every one of Mr. Hill’s editorial cartoons alongside his original character, BB BluesBird, or BB, as seen in the Chagrin Valley Times, Solon Times, Geauga Times Courier and West Life, in his upcoming book. Readers will also get a look at concepts of unpublished cartoons and Mr. Hill’s own commentary on his work.
BB made his debut back in 2004, Mr. Hill explained, when he tried to turn the aspiring avian blues singer into a comic strip. He said he proposed the strip to syndicates, but ultimately self-published BB as a webcomic with the help of underground comic artist Gary Dumm for about two years.
Then life and work got in the way, he said, and the duo tabled BB around 2014.
Mr. Hill occasionally worked BB into his editorial cartoons for the newspapers, he said, turning the blue(s) singer into a spokesbird on current events and local politics, then decided to take things a step further last December.
“I decided let’s put BB as kind of a spokesperson into all the editorial commentary that I do,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just do it and see what happens.’ And, and no one ever said stop (minus the occasional critic).” Then as the pandemic took hold of the country, BB adjusted to the changes like everyone else.
“Suddenly, BB was figuring out this new-normal like the rest of us, amid the social unrest, climate change conundrum and the most important election of anybody’s life,” the book description explains. “The lessons we all learned (or didn’t learn) are suddenly as dire as life and death.”
Mr. Hill said political cartoons are important because they make people stop and think.
“A political cartoon is just a snipe,” he said. “A lot of people think they’re supposed to be humorous, [and] they are in a way. They’re supposed to look funny. That’s how they draw you into something that makes you think or see a quick capsulation.”
They’re supposed to “spark conversation,” he added.
Between August and September is when Mr. Hill had the idea to compile all of BB’s snipes between the four papers into a published book. Through his media agency, Act3, LLC, with partners Jim O’Hare and Jaime Lombardo, Mr. Hill moved forward with the idea.
In additions to all published comics from 2020, concept sketches (a total of more than 135 cartoons) and Mr. Hill’s own commentary, the book includes a forward from Mr. Dumm and an introduction and afterword from Mr. O’Hare and Mr. Lombardo, respectively.
“I love drawing BB and finally seeing him in print again,” Mr. Hill said. “He’s fun to draw. I feel like he’s just kind of like me in a way.”
Pre-orders of “BB BluesBird and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year,” which will include an illustrated signature by the cartoonist himself, are available at www.act3creative.com/BB-BluesBird.