Just in time for the November general election, Holtville native and cartoonist Dave Garcia reprises his nom de guerre, “Gilgar,” in the popular series of local editorial cartoons he drew for nearly 15 years.
Under the pseudonym Gilgar, he created hundreds of editorial cartoons on local and national topics until 2019 for a different local publication. However, Garcia is returning to his roots in drawing for the Holtville Tribune and Calexico Chronicle/Imperial Valley Weekly.
“It’s like coming full circle,” Garcia said.
Now 67 years old, as a teenager Garcia used to do advertising artwork for former Holtville Tribune publisher and editor Quentin Burke, who would often call Dave and give him ideas for editorial cartoons about city, school, county and IID issues after his Gilgar cartoons began to appear.
As history has shown, no subject is too taboo for Garcia/Gilgar, who lampoons local leaders and national figures with equal wit. He returns with his favorite subject of late, President Donald Trump.
Garcia drew inspiration from Trump’s seemingly speedy recovery from COVID-19, creating his first new cartoon for print just a few days ago.
“I hear or read something that strikes me as weird, or troubling, or funny, and I draw it. The Trump cartoon, my first thought when he was raving about his (COVID) treatment was how much did it cost? And could regular Americans access/afford it?” Garcia said.
And what can readers expect from a man who has not been afraid to slaughter a sacred cow or two?
“More of the same. I feel everything is fair game. The Pope or ‘Notorious RBG’ is just as likely to be a subject as some dictator or the New River Superfund site,” Garcia said.
With an editorial cartoon, he explained that often it takes effort to get it right; sometimes it isn’t simply enough to have an inkling.
“My brain is constantly making puns or observations that I can express visually. Sometimes I have the germ of an idea, but it isn’t visually insightful, or funny, so I have to keep working on it, like a sculptor slowly chipping away, bringing out the image hidden in marble,” he said.
Garcia explained editorial cartooning is a different animal from being a cartoonist that works on books or certain characters. In many ways, he intimated, it can be more freeing but require a more versatile set of skills.
“I approach each cartoon differently and I change art style to match, super cartoony to realism. I drew one ‘Barbara Worth’-like (about) the original author’s (Harold Bell Wright) book and one time a spinach cartoon with Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto like (artist E.C.) Segar,” Garcia said.
“With a comic, the style is the same from panel to panel,” he said, adding that with character-driven, recurring comics, consistency is key.
After 15 years in local papers, most people know that Garcia is Gilgar, but that wasn’t always the case. At first, he tried to keep his identity hidden, to create a wall between his job of creating comics and his moonlighting gig of editorial cartooning. Now, he doesn’t really care who knows, but keeps the Gilgar name to separate between the disciplines.
But why Gilgar? What’s behind the name?
“Most Holtville people don’t even know this, but I was named Gilbert after my dad. Gilgar was a revamp from when Daniel Thornburg and I collaborated on toons and funny drawings in high school and signed them “Garburg,” for Gar(cia)-(Thorn)burg,” he explained. “’Thorncia’ didn’t have the same ring to it. ‘Davgar’ doesn’t have that ring either. I just like differentiating between my comic book art and my editorial toons.”