Asheville Citizen’s readers enjoyed decades of cartoons and the political views of “Billy” Borne. Willis “Billy” Gustavus Borne, whose father was from Switzerland, came here from Toledo, Ohio. He became the Citizen’s cartoonist in 1907 and was referred to as Asheville’s Tom Nast. One hundred years ago Borne gives a nod towards the end of 1915.
Borne’s cartoons were used by the newspaper to accompany presidential election returns which were broadcast on the newspaper’s outdoor screen.
His cartoons were also used in Buncombe County’s “Swat the Fly” campaign that began in 1910. His signature jay bird picked up some Spanish when the same campaign took Borne to San Juan in 1915 where thousands of posters using his work were distributed in Spanish throughout Puerto Rico.
The jay bird was often featured at the bottom of the newspaper’s front page with the day’s forecast.
Borne was last listed in the 1929 Asheville City Directory, living in the Carolina Apartments. More than likely due to the Depression, he left Asheville and returned to Toledo in 1930, where he lived with his brother Delbert and wife Addie Borne. He died there in 1944 at the age of 60. Borne notes the repetition of the years as 1916 takes the reins.
Post by Zoe Rhine, librarian.