Deep Dark Truthful Dog

January 29th, 2015

A while back I outed myself as the guy behind the dog—a dog who just happens to be a cartoonist. As a cartoonist—human or otherwise— one recent project I’m especially proud of, is this music video I worked on for the talented Gail George:

The song is part of the new CD, Beyond Belief: A Tribute to Elvis Costello.

For background on how our collaboration came about, including the original photos used as inspiration for Petey’s drawings, check out Gail’s blog post here.

Discovering what I think

August 25th, 2014

Joan Didion said: “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” And before her, Flannery O’Connor said essentially the same thing: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

The same could be said for coming up with cartoon ideas. And also for coming up with answers during interviews. Recently, I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Michael Lang, who along with Corey Hart of Single Source, filmed and edited this mini-doc/interview. Mike asked great questions, which is to say, he got me to open up and say things I didn’t always know that I knew. In my book, the sign of a great interview is when, as the subject of the interview, you learn a little something about yourself.

Cartoonist Jeffrey Koterba from Spectral Chemist on Vimeo.

A True Alien Abduction

May 20th, 2014

I’ve written about my favorite alien before. Now, however, I must report that my alien has been abducted. Seriously. Who would do such a thing? I was away from the office for a few days when it happened. I came back only to find a ransom note and an empty place where my alien used to reside. It seems, though, that he’s having a pretty good life without me. According to his new Facebook page, that is…


Kennedy, My Uncle, and the Moon

November 20th, 2013

I don’t know which came first. My love of newspapers or the space program.

When I was growing up, my father often recounted how his late brother, Ed Koterba, began his journalism career at the Omaha World-Herald, and how he would go on to write a syndicated column for the Scripps Howard News Service and The Washington Post. We also closely followed the Apollo program, my father often reminding me that Uncle Ed had covered NASA and had even interviewed Wernher von Braun, father of the Saturn V rocket, the vehicle that would eventually transport earthlings to the lunar surface.

Uncle Ed was a member of the White House Press Corps, traveling with the president and attending Kennedy’s live televised press conferences—the first by any president. He was, no doubt, present the day Kennedy gave his famous “moon speech.”  Uncle Ed traveled the globe, filing columns from such exotic locales as the South Pole. Yet, it was his connection to President Kennedy that always piqued my imagination the most.

A month after Kennedy inspired a nation to reach for the moon, the president announced that Uncle Ed had been killed in a plane crash. The announcement can be heard here, at the start of this clip:

To hear Kennedy speak my family name, “Koterba,” is surreal. And I can’t help but wonder how the world might be different today had both men not met such tragic and untimely deaths.


Jeff Koterba November 17 2013, Kennedy Moon


My Favorite Alien

July 12th, 2013

I worry that I’ve been taking my alien for granted. Every day he watches over me as I draw cartoons. And how do I thank him (and no, I don’t actually know if he is a “he.”)? By turning him into a shelf for my drawings.

My alien came to me nearly four earth years ago. You can read the original story here. Or, just take a look at this and judge me accordingly:


And the winner is…

June 26th, 2013

I’m pleased to announce the winner in my Summer Caption Contest, as named by author and illustrator, Bruce Arant. Bruce tells me there were plenty of great entries to choose from. So many, in fact, he named three runners-up.

Third runner-up: “Come on in, the water is great! What do you mean, you’re afraid? Party like it’s 65 million BC!”
—Jerry Matulka

Second runner-up: “C’mon Rex!  One more dip before that darned asteroid hits!”
—Clayton Anderson

First runner-up:  “Nothing to be scared of… the water’s a bit chilly, but we can always warm up afterwards in the bubbly tar pit Jacuzzi.”
—Victor Hahn

And the winner in the Summer Caption Contest is…drumroll, please…


“Don’t worry, Steve, if it gets too deep you can just dog

The winning entry comes from Brian Bonifant. For winning, Brian will receive the original artwork. Congratulations to Brian and the three runners-up and thank you to everyone who entered!

Summer Caption Contest

June 6th, 2013

What better way to ring in the summer than to hold a cartoon caption contest? Here’s the deal: submit your caption for this cartoon through June 21, 2013, and you could win the original watercolor!Koterba

Remember to keep your punchlines short and sweet. And funny! One submission per entrant. Contest open to all humans on planet Earth. To keep it fair, I won’t be judging. Instead, that duty falls on the shoulders of author and illustrator, Bruce Arant, who just happens to have a beautiful new children’s book coming out later this summer. Email your captions to KoterbaCaptionContest @ gmail dot com (Sorry, you’ll have to retype that address…just avoiding spam) by 11:59 p.m. CST, June 21, 2013. The winner will be announced July 1, 2013. Good luck and have fun!

Farewell, Neil Armstrong

August 27th, 2012

When I met Neil Armstrong, my sketchbook seemed to make him nervous. I knew that he didn’t care to give interviews and although I had no intention of asking anything, I couldn’t help but go up to him, just to shake his hand. He was, after all, one of my heroes. But I, too, was nervous, stumbling over my words. Worse, I was excitedly waving around my hands and trying to explain who I was, and what had brought me to the Saturn V complex at the Kennedy Space Center. He kept eyeing my sketchbook with suspicion, however, and before I could reassure him that I wasn’t a reporter, the moment was lost…

In the spring of 2010, my family and I had come to the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of space shuttle Discovery. We were guests of astronaut Clay Anderson—mission specialist for Discovery—who had also asked to take on his flight two of my original drawings. The hardcover of my memoir, Inklings, had just come out, but because space travel—and Snoopy—play a role in the book, I was able to write an epilogue for the paperback edition that included this:

Even an actual Saturn V rocket, suspended overhead horizontally and as tall as a building, seems to defy logic. Something catches my eye: a display of famous newspaper front pages from July 1969, the headlines proclaiming that man had landed upon the moon. Although the newspapers come from all over the globe, one front page in particular leaps out at me, that of the Omaha World-Herald.

I’m marveling at this familiar image when Josh grabs my attention. Behind me, in the shadow of the mammoth rocket is a statue of astronaut Snoopy, as tall as a boy. Moments later we realize that just a few steps from Snoopy stands Neil Armstrong, the man. I shake his hand and attempt to explain why I am here. He smiles politely but I know that there is probably nothing any mere human can say to this hero that will impress him. I glance to the newspaper display, to the World-Herald’s front page with Armstrong’s image. I want to point it out to him, but he is overtaken by other fans and soon we are back outside, at the bleachers in the viewing area, in the darkness that buzzes with anticipation.

jeff koterba-moon landing-apollo

Front page on display in the Omaha World-Herald lobby, and at the Kennedy Space Center

As a kid, Neil Armstrong inspired me to dream big. And when he passed away, he again inspired me as a cartoonist…

Jeff Koterba-cartoon-moon landing

Kind Gestures

April 9th, 2012

I’ve been hit by lightning. My cartoons have flown in space. And yet, one of the most surrealistic moments I’ve ever experienced had to be watching myself twitch on the big screen—when I was able to watch, that is. Truth be told, there were moments when I had to close my eyes during a recent screening of the new documentary, Voluntary Gestures, by Stefan Morel. I mean, it’s uncomfortable enough listening to my voice in the recording studio when working on a new song. But watching myself twitch? Tough. Yet, what did I expect? The film is about the connection between Tourette’s and creativity.

Filmmaker Stefan Morel and I first met a year ago when he came to Omaha to spend a week with me, his camera in hand, always at the ready. I trusted him from the start and we quickly became close friends. Stefan is an artist, and what he’s created—from what I’ve seen—is beautiful. And apparently, others who have seen the film agree. At its premiere at the Omaha Film Festival, Voluntary Gestures won two awards including the Audience Choice Award for a short film.

I’m also proud that the film allowed me the opportunity to work with the talented, Josh Koterba, who happens to be my son. Josh and I recorded much of the music for the film. What we didn’t record came from my band, Prairie Cats.

I would also like to thank all of those folks who came to the festival and shared their kind words about the film. For those who have asked when and where they can see it: at present, Voluntary Gestures is being submitted to film festivals around the world which, at this time, precludes general distribution. However, at some point down the road, it’s my understanding that Voluntary Gestures will be available to a wider audience. When that happens I’ll be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, here’s the trailer…Enjoy!


Cats and Dogs, Tics and Space

December 21st, 2011

I always knew that my childhood creation, Dogie the Doggie, was engaged in a self-proclaimed space race with Snoopy. Dogie was also the star of his own newspaper, The Dogie the Doggie News. But who knew that he had competition? From a Cat? It took a trip to New York for me to learn that when she was ten, comedian Chelsea White was not only “broadcasting” The Daily Cat, but had also sent Whiskers into space.

When she’s not making people laugh with her stand-up, Chelsea’s hosting, producing, and editing. And when she’s not doing that, she’s mentoring those with Tourette Syndrome, often visiting schools, sharing her experiences of having grown up with Tourette’s. As someone who also suffers from Tourette’s, I was in town to give a talk at a mentoring brunch sponsored by New York City’s chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association.

The best part about hanging out at the brunch? I got to meet a lot of great people with Tourette’s, people who don’t define themselves by their tics but instead, are infinitely creative, smart and funny. And that’s the thing about Tourette’s. It isn’t just about twitching, it’s about creating art, music, books, and plays.

And sending imaginary pets into space.

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