Tuesday, January 5, 2010

20 Questions with Leigh Rubin

I first saw Leigh Rubin's comic strip, RUBES, in the Antelope Valley Press in the early 90s. Always fresh, funny and inventive, RUBES showcases Leigh's wonderfully original sense of humor.

Check out all things RUBES at Leigh's website. You can get RUBES cards, RUBES books, RUBES calendars, and inquire about speaking engagements. For a generous donation, Leigh will even come to your house and clean out your fridge.

1. When you were a kid, did you want to be a cartoonist? Did you draw?

All the time. I think I was born with a pencil in my hand. That may explain why my mom had such a difficult labor.

2. What was your first paying cartoon job?

I sold a greeting card (of my own design) off the counter of my father’s print shop. I made fifty cents. That was big money back in 1979.

3. Describe the process you went through to get RUBES syndicated.

It was a very long and tortuous ordeal. You’ll have to wait for the RUBES biopic starring Johnny Depp. Of course, you may be waiting for awhile so if you just buy me a beer, I’d be happy to tell you.

4. Vultures show up quite often in RUBES. Any particular reason why?

Because, unlike my kids, they actually clean up messes.

5. What’s your favorite rejected strip or gag?

I haven’t had any. That’s because I reject them before anyone else can and into the trash can they go.

6. Where do you stand in the print comics vs. web comics debate?

I take a neutral position. Whoever eventually wins the debate, that’s whose side I’m on?

7. Newspaper comics are considered pretty tame compared to TV and other media. Do you find this limiting or do you welcome the challenge?

I enjoy the challenge of pushing the limit within the limits. So much of pop culture these days is “in your face,” and it leaves nothing to the imagination. Having some limits is a good thing because it tends to stretch your own imagination to be more clever.

8. Name five of your favorite comic strips or cartoonists.

I tend to read only what’s in my local paper but the ones I read consistently are ZITS, GET FUZZY, LUANNE, PEARLS BEFORE SWINE and DILBERT.

9. Who would win in a mud wrestling match, Gary Larson or Dan Piraro?

I would appreciate it if you would please try to keep your twisted fantasies out of my interview.

10. How do you develop ideas? Which comes first, words or pictures?

This is like the chicken and egg question isn’t it? Well, let’s see...I’ll have my chicken fried and my eggs over easy. The truth is that there is no magic formula. I just take whatever comes first and that’s that.

11. Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?

Only when I die...and at that point, who cares?

12. Who do you want to portray you in the inevitable biopic?

I don’t have a preference as long as I get 20 mil up front and 20% of the gross.

13. What kind of editor do you prefer, hands-on or laissez-faire?

I prefer the kind of editor that puts my cartoon in his or her paper.

14. What are your favorite books, TV shows, songs and films? (Yes, that counts as one question.)

Since it’s a combo question I’ll give you a combo answer. On the weekends I watch/listen to a lot of CSPAN 2. (Book TV) It’s terrific as I can listen while I work since it’s mostly authors reading from their books and answering questions from the audience. I’m exposed to multiple viewpoints on politics and history and I can actually learn something at the same time. A couple of my recent favorite authors are Christopher Buckley and Christopher Moore though I just finished an interesting bit of fiction (Beat the Reaper) about a hit man turned M.D. by Josh Bazell. Interesting stuff.

I am partial to the TV shows Bones and NCIS. It’s fun to see David McCallum after all these years. My brother and I were big fans of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the 60s.

As far as films go I am not a big action pic kind of guy. I like movies that are unpredictable without a lot of blood.

Oh, music. Mostly classic rock, which apparently my 14-year-old and friends also very much enjoy. The other day my son had on a Grateful Dead shirt and his friends had on Journey and Van Halen shirts. I asked them what new bands they liked and they said, “New bands suck”...Out of the mouths of babes, eh?

15. What are your tools of the trade?

Paper, pencils, pens, ink, lots of caffeine and the desire to avoid real work at any cost.

16. What’s the best part about being a cartoonist?

Being asked to do thought-provoking interviews.

17. Have you met any of your cartoonist idols? Under what circumstances?

Thou shalt not have any other idols before me.

18. What advice would you give aspiring cartoonists?

Stay in school. Study hard. Become doctors and lawyers. I don’t need any more competition.

19. How important are awards?
Statues make good doorstops. Cash is better.

20. What’s something that nobody knows about you?

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Christine Brandenburg said...

Scott, Do you do school author visits?

Scott Nickel said...

I do author visits, but generally only locally here in Indiana.

However I'm always open to visiting schools in Hawaii, the Bahamas or Cabo.