Anyone who’s opened the Los Angeles Times to check out the “funnies” has seen Rubes. We wanted to know about the creative process that joins images and words to make these clever, often hilarious, cartoons. Creator Leigh Rubin generously offered to spend some time with WinRs.
How did you wind up writing cartoons?
I’ve always loved to draw and had wanted to be an artist from a very young age. The first cartoon I ever drew was in kindergarten. I also enjoy a good joke and it’s especially fun making them up so if you put the two skills together you have a cartoonist. Seems like the perfect profession for someone with absolutely no other marketable skills.
As a cartoonist, you both write and illustrate. Do you come up with your commentary first or doodle until an idea strikes you?
Do you consider yourself an illustrator or a writer first?
You call this work? Ha! …But seriously, my boss is a real jerk. He’s not going to see this interview is he? He makes me draw at least one cartoon per day but quite often he’ll make me draw two a day because I’m often out and about the country doing my goofy cartoon presentations and speaking engagements. I am going to be hitting the road even more often this year as I have a nifty new 25th anniversary cartoon collection coming out in March so I am sure my evil boss will be working me extra hard to make sure all my cartoons are drawn before I leave town…Cartoonist’s block?…Listen, I had a colonoscopy when I turned fifty and I guarantee you, after that there wasn’t any blockage whatsoever.
You were originally self-syndicated. What does this mean?
Self-syndication means that in addition to writing and drawing you also have the opportunity to call on editors, make the sales, send out promo material, do the billing, chase down the people who don’t pay you, etc. , etc., etc. It is not for the faint of heart and I did it for the first four years of Rubes. Being self-syndicated gives you a terrific appreciation of what syndication sales reps have to do on a daily basis, only most syndicates represent many features, so the reps have many features they must know inside and out…and there’s a lot to know.
How did you become widely syndicated in newspapers? Did markets approach you after you had built up a following or did you try to get people to take a chance on you?
Yes, it’s amazing how many closet cartoonists are out there are of all ages. From little kids, to teens to adults and that includes senior citizens. People really do love cartoons and cartooning and not just for financial reasons. They enjoy the fun of just being creative for the sake of being creative, which is absolutely wonderful.
What’s up next for you?
I’ll be hitting the road in a week or so bringing the Rubes cartoony show to San Antonio. In between private speaking engagements I have lots of public events lined up. With the new book, The Wild and Twisted World of Rubes coming out this March it will be extra fun. It’s wonderful sharing laughs and connecting with a live audience. Nothing beats being a sit down comedian.
Thank you so much! You can pre-order The Wild and Twisted World of Rubes at Amazon, and you can learn more about Leigh at his website.
3 thoughts on “Interview with Leigh Rubin”
I follow the Three-Step Process when looking at your work. I look at the picture, read the caption, and then look at the picture again to see what I missed. I get three laughs for the price of one. I also clip and save many of your cartoons for my scrapbooks. Thanks for dropping by our blog.
I was beginning to think I was humor-impaired until I saw your work. Thanks for giving me so much to laugh about — in this world we need it more than ever! I have a t-shirt with your reindeer cartoon, and it gets comments and laughs whenever I wear it — not always at Christmastime, either!
What a delighful interview. I love this man's humor. Something this world could use a lot more of, especially these days. Thanks for sharing!