I had been working at my folks print shop since high school so I knew how to run a press, do layout and design, etc. Of course I was majoring in advertising arts in college at the time so everything just sort of clicked. I started the card line in 1979.
Skip ahead a couple of years….I was getting burned out doing both the card line and working at the print shop.
I happened to be doodling around and made my signature character into a musical note. Then I started writing silly little puns to go along with the notes and Notable Quotes was born.
Jump ahead a couple more years and I was doing a book signing at a bookstore in Lancaster, California, with my first cartoon collection of Notable Quotes. The entertainment editor at the paper had written a little feature about the event. He and I became friends and it wasn’t long after that he asked if I’d like to draw a cartoon for the local paper. I jumped at the chance.
On November 1,1984 the first Rubes® was published.
Self-syndication means that instead of a syndicate, which is a company that markets and hopefully sells your cartoons, that you (the cartoonist) have the pleasure of being rejected first-hand instead of the newspaper or publication telling the sales rep for the syndicate that they are not interested in your cartoon .
It also means that you “get to” make the sales, send out promo material, do the billing, chase down the people who owe you $$ and experience all the pleasure of running your own business.
Call me old-fashioned but I still actually physically draw with a pencil on paper. There is something very satisfying with holding an original piece of art. Equally satisfying is tearing up the paper you struggled with all day because the gag didn’t turn out as funny as it was originally envisioned.
The same cannot be said for drawing on a tablet. If you are unsatisfied, hitting “delete” does not give the same “take that you crappy drawing” sense of satisfaction. (Ah, the sweet sound of paper being torn in half!)
Eventually, sometimes sooner than later, a workable concept will magically appear on the paper. An average day is one cartoon. A good day, two. An extraordinary day, three – though honestly, after two I call it a day. After all, there’s always tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that, etc.
As I mentioned, priming the pump consists mainly of intense mental calisthenics (aka “daydreaming”). If I don’t pick up the pencil then “ain’t nuthin’ gonna happen” so it’s best to just START. The sooner that happens the sooner an idea will manifest itself.
Describe what you do your demonstrations.
I like to think of myself as a “sit down comic.”
Being in front of a live audience and telling jokes or sharing observational humor, going step by step through the creative process, connecting the dots, and of course some live doodling is great fun. It gives me the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life with whom I would never have the chance to meet otherwise.
What I hope that people take away from these live events is to find inspiration in their own lives by seeing from a slightly different and perhaps even humorous perspective, what would otherwise be mundane or unremarkable situations.
I’ll bet you’ll never guess how funny flossing could be until you think about a sheep or a spider doing it!
Do you have any advice for newbie and hopeful cartoonists, writers and artists just starting out, or those struggling to get published?
Advice you say? Well, yes. I do have some for what it’s worth.
If someone you know tells or sends you a letter of rejection don’t take it personally. See if you can find out exactly why that person turned you down. Get the specifics if possible.
One of my earliest letters of rejection came from a syndicate that loved my gags but thought my drawing needed work. I listened to them and really upped my game. That one reject coupled with some valuable constructive criticism made a huge impact on me and on my career.
Thanks, Leigh. And anything else you’d like to say before you leave?
It would make a fabulous Father’s Day, graduation, belated Mother’s Day, birthday or any day gift! Here’s the link and a preview: Rubes.CartoonistBook.com
Besides creating comic humor for newspapers, Leigh has produced books of cartoons, magnets, greeting cards, e-cards, tee-shirts and box calendars. Be sure to visit also his web site and peruse his witty collections and books. http://www.rubescartoons.com/