Episode Summary

Accomplished author and cartoonist, Leigh Rubin joins us to talk about his journey and creating stories through the different mediums of text and visual art.

Episode Notes

Today we celebrate humor and creativity with accomplished author and cartoonist, Leigh Rubin. An author of more than 20 books, 2024 marks the 40th anniversary of Leigh’s internationally syndicated cartoon, Rubes®, which is distributed by Creators Syndicate to hundreds of newspapers and media outlets worldwide. His work has been featured in film, television, and advertising. In 2018 Leigh began serving at Rochester Institute of Technology as the college’s first Cartoonist-in-Residence. 

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Kevin Tumlinson [00:00:01]:
You just tuned into the hippest way to start and grow your indie author career. Learn the ins, the outs, and all the all arounds of self publishing with the team from D2D and their industry influencing guests. You’re listening to Self Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:00:28]:
Hello, and welcome to Draft2Digital Self Publishing Insiders. My name is Mark Leslie Lefebvre. I am the director of business development for Draft2Digital, and I’m honored to have the cartoonist whose work I was inspired by to do that short stupid dad joke video. Leigh Rubin. Leigh, welcome to the Draft Digital Studios.

Leigh Rubin [00:00:47]:
Oh, hi, Mark. I think that, I think that was high art.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:00:50]:
High art. Yeah. Well, it was based on high art. So I have to I’m gonna pop up the cartoon again. So Sure. Somebody had sent this to me because they said the person in the picture look look like me. Right? Bald guy with a beard, that kind of thing going on. And and I thought that was hilarious, and I think it was during the pandemic.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:01:06]:
And I was, you know, I was like, I’m just gonna make a video version. And then I reached out to

Leigh Rubin [00:01:12]:
you and said, hey. Is it

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:01:12]:
okay if I you know, I’ll I’ll include a link to your website, etcetera. But that’s how we first met. But you, as I understand it, you’re gonna be celebrating 40 years as a cartoonist. Right? Or have you already celebrated the 40th?

Leigh Rubin [00:01:24]:
Well, I’m I’m into it. The 40th actual anniversary will be in November 1st.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:01:30]:
Oh, man. This is this is amazing. So, we’re gonna be talking about your latest, book, which is out now. It’s called Think Like a Cartoonist. I’ve got little, showing up in a little There

Leigh Rubin [00:01:42]:
it is.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:01:43]:
On the bottom there, but there’s Think Like a Cartoonist. There’s the book right there. I have it in my hot little hands.

Leigh Rubin [00:01:47]:
Yeah. I got one.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:01:48]:
If you have one in your hot little hands. Oh my god. Hot hands. Two books. This is a it’s like we planned this or something. Yeah. But I wanna go back to the beginning because I I think there’s a lot that writers can learn from the type of art and the type of, creation that you do. But let’s go back to the beginning for you.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:02:05]:
Where did it all start? Was it did was it a a comic you saw? Was it something funny? Like, how did you get into comedy and specifically, in into art?

Leigh Rubin [00:02:15]:
Always wanted to be a an artist of some sort since as far back as I can remember, kindergarten, and then all through, you know, elementary, junior high, high school, college. Yeah. You know, my dad read comics, huge comics fan. I think that was a huge influence. He had a wonderful sense of humor. And that’s back in the day where people would gather around and read the comics together, if you believe that, you know, newspapers and all that sort of thing. And it was it was, you know, it was fun because you could laugh together. It was a, you know, family entertainment.

Leigh Rubin [00:02:50]:
Yeah. And it I mean, I’ve worked for my dad from in high school. He had a print shop, and I knew I I’ve been I you know, mom and dad, mom and pop shop, and I knew I didn’t wanna continue in that business, although I was there for 20 plus years. Wow. Okay. Yes. I know. It was a long time.

Leigh Rubin [00:03:12]:
But in, around 78, I was walking through a pharmacy and saw this row of greeting cards by Sandra Boynton, which were published by Recycle Paper Greetings, and they were called Animal Farm. And they were so just delightful, silly puns. And I thought, I I’ll start a green card line. Well, having no idea what I was gonna do, so I, you know, made one, printed it up, put it on the counter of my dad’s print shop, and some guy came in and bought it for 50¢. And Wow. You know, all I need is a little encouragement. Yeah.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:03:44]:
So wait. How old were you when when you were doing this?

Leigh Rubin [00:03:50]:
Young. I don’t know. I’d like like, 21.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:03:54]:
Okay. Alright.

Leigh Rubin [00:03:55]:

  1. I don’t know.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:03:55]:
I’ve got you know? But then there was a DIY ethic because, I mean, obviously, you had access to the raw materials. You had access to the raw materials to create

Leigh Rubin [00:04:03]:
Very raw.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:04:04]:
What that first one was?

Leigh Rubin [00:04:06]:
Yeah. It was a picture of a raccoon on a giant ear of corn, and the character was based on this little character that my dad taught us, my brother and sister and myself to draw. So the the raccoon is leaning over this huge ear of corn, and the inside of the card, said, I’d like to nibble on your ear.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:04:31]:
So A little Valentine’s Day.

Leigh Rubin [00:04:33]:
Yeah. Well, you know, and some of them were a little naughtier than others. Yeah. There was a dog in a burlap sack. You’ll I’ll leave that to your imagination, that one. But there were also, you know, all sorts of fun ones. So then I thought about that. I I came up with a line of about 24 then 48, but I I needed racks.

Leigh Rubin [00:04:53]:
So I had this is pre Internet. Yeah. Yeah. I went to a trade show and talked to a sales rep, and they go, well, okay. Here’s how you do it. And if you wanna do it, you know, we can represent you at, at the National Stationery Show in New York. If you’d like in 1979, I forget when it was. But so they didn’t I guess they had no idea I was actually gonna follow through on this.

Leigh Rubin [00:05:14]:
Saw these big racks, spinner racks made some guy in Pasadena, California. I mean, I don’t even remember how I found the guy. Wow. But so they took me to New York, and I sold a whole bunch of like, some a whole bunch of stores bought it. I was surprised because I uh-oh. I have to gear up for production now because this is way more than my dad’s print shop could handle.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:05:37]:
Oh, really? Like, that’s that the volume was that high.

Leigh Rubin [00:05:40]:
It wasn’t Well, you know, if a store of, like a a like a a retail, like, a stationary chain of 20 or 25 stores orders, like, there’s no way we can print them on these little offset duplicators. Oh, wow. Ever. So I had to find a a, you know, a commercial printer that wasn’t too far. So I get, you know, pretty close by in the this is in the San Fernando Valley, right side of outside of LA. Big you know? Wow. So there there weren’t there wasn’t a lack of printers. But, again, this is all pre Internet.

Leigh Rubin [00:06:09]:
So I was like figuring all this out, you know, with phone books.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:06:13]:
And and Wow. What are those?

Leigh Rubin [00:06:14]:
Yeah. Well, you sit on you you sit on them when you’re a little kid, when you’re Oh, I see. So you

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:06:18]:
can get reach the table better. Yeah. Okay. So but I I was thinking when you said you went to a trade show, I thought maybe there was gonna be somebody who managed the store, a single store went in and bought them. I’m sure. Okay. 10. No problem.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:06:30]:
You want 10 of this, 10 of that, 10 of the other, but you’re talking to a chain. So your magnitude of scale was dramatic at a time, just to reiterate, where you couldn’t just Google it and find a YouTube video. Right?

Leigh Rubin [00:06:43]:
No. No. They’re Wow. It wasn’t available. So, yeah, just you just figure it out. You you it’s amazing what you can figure out in the old days. You know, people sure you know, they went around the world in old ships without, you know, GPS.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:07:02]:
Apparently, they did. That so so you found a local, print shop, but, obviously, I’m assuming that your your background working at your dad’s print shop probably gave you a bit of an idea of what was gonna be involved just at a different scale.

Leigh Rubin [00:07:16]:
Well, yeah, much bigger. I mean, I I had the idea. I could make prototypes, so there’s no way I could make the the volume. But, you know, mom and dad shop, you just do whatever. You sweep the floor, you run the press, you do layouts, you do pay stuff, you deal with customers. My brother and I had a joke like, they come in for our snappy uniforms, which we were teenagers with ink covered, you know, every you know, just you know, we did not have uniforms. We were anything but a corporate entity. Right.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:07:44]:
Right. So so the greeting cards, that was that first step. Right. At what point did that transition into what we now know as as rubes, cartoons?

Leigh Rubin [00:07:58]:
I was kinda getting burnt out. I was doing a lot of this work myself. My mom was helping me, which is great, but still all that shipping and this and that. And Yeah. I’m still working a full time job. And I I don’t know how I came up with this idea, but I took the idea of that little character that was the star of all the greeting cards. It just has different animals or whatever. Yeah.

Leigh Rubin [00:08:20]:
And I made it into a musical note. And I start and I so I shrink wrapped and and did DD these prints and started doing trade, like, street fairs with these prints of musical note. They called them notable quotes, and they were all silly musical puns. Okay. And people just love them. It was just unbelievable. Like, wow. People are really laughing at these.

Leigh Rubin [00:08:41]:
And then someone’s came up to me in at one of these shows and said, you should do a book of those. Well, I only had 12. So I bought a musical dictionary, went home, came up with, you know, you know, went back to our apartment, and then, you know, kept reading, you know, okay. I can come up with this pun. I don’t read music, so but it had to be, you know so enough for the anybody could get them, came up with enough, but then I had to find a commercial printer to print in the volume you need. It wasn’t print on demand then, and the the lowest amount of books you could print was 5,000 to get this

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:09:14]:
sale right. 1,000?

Leigh Rubin [00:09:15]:
Yeah. Woah. Yeah. You had

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:09:18]:
to have a big basement or a big trunk. Right?

Leigh Rubin [00:09:20]:
My parents’ house, they I’m not sure they were thrilled with this idea. They admired my industriousness. Of course. Yeah.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:09:28]:
Well, hey. You’re you’re you’re starting a business like they had like your dad had. Right?

Leigh Rubin [00:09:31]:
Yeah. And like his dad had before him. So it was yeah. Wow. So, I what I had to do was figure out how to get rid of these 5,000 books. Fortunately, I had those sales reps from before. And I and I get gave those the BooksRead then we I found some people to make mugs, and and we printed notepads ourselves. All the B.

Leigh Rubin [00:09:53]:
Dalton Walden books. I don’t know if those are in in Canada as well, but Really? Yeah. They got born up bought out by Barnes and Noble and Borders. You know? But they were in every mall. Every mall had at least 2 bookstores back in the glory days of the late seventies and into the eighties. And I managed to sell those first 5,000 in 6 months. Wow. And it went on to 8 printings.

Leigh Rubin [00:10:24]:
Really? Of of of yes. So I just kept re there’s a few in the garage left in case anybody’s interested. Wait. I I I I also buy them then from

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:10:32]:
you. Pardon? They can buy them

Leigh Rubin [00:10:34]:
from you? If if you wanna email me, we’ll figure it out. Yeah. Sure.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:10:38]:
There’s the the URL on it. Yeah. Website right there.

Leigh Rubin [00:10:44]:
Yeah. Well, I don’t they’re if you Google, they’re probably on eBay too. There’s some, you know, weird odd odd stuff. But from that book, I I did a book signing at a Waldenbooks in Lancaster, California. I’ve had moved to Palmdale. My wife got a job teaching elementary school out in the Antelope Valley, which is north of, northeast of Los Angeles. And I met, another author there, who went on to pretty good success with his, work. But the local newspaper, the Antelope Valley Press had an edit had a, an entertainment editor, and we became friends.

Leigh Rubin [00:11:20]:
And we go out and have beer as one does back in the day when you could do that. I mean, I guess you can now. But and he asked, how’d you like to do a daily cartoon for a newspaper? And I thought, wow, this is sure. This is great. That’s what I wanna do. And it was a 4 day a week paper, but this paper had a lock on the Antelope Valley. I mean, there was no competing papers until not not much longer than the LA Times, LA Daily News kinda moved in, but still they did not get the but because of that pressure, the the publisher of that of the Antelope Valley Press poured a bunch of money in. And it was the glory days of newspaper where, you know, it was like I I had an a newspaper editor once say, used to be having newspapers like having a license to print money.

Leigh Rubin [00:12:06]:
Yeah. That’s not so much the case anymore as

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:12:09]:
you may have noticed.

Leigh Rubin [00:12:10]:
Yeah. Yeah. So, November 1, 1984, I started drawing the the or I started publishing in this the the daily rubs and ever since. Wow.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:12:21]:
And was it was it the daily rubs? Was it rubs from the beginning?

Leigh Rubin [00:12:26]:
Yeah. Because I couldn’t because Garfield was taken. You know? I

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:12:31]:
Okay. Fair enough. And so, 40 years this November, celebrating that. But, you ended up doing some other publishing, not just the the merchandise and the cards and the notebooks and stuff like that. Right? I I know, obviously, we’re gonna be talking, about your latest Think Like a Cartoonist, but what came before that?

Leigh Rubin [00:12:56]:
First book was Notable Quotes, you know, and then, the next one was a terrible book that thank god accidentally most of them got pulped called Sharks Are People 2. Good luck finding that one, folks. Oh. I have a few copies, but they ain’t leaving my garage. Then I I did a second volume of of notable quotes called Encore, and then the third one called Amusing Arrangements. Notice the musical theme. Yeah. Yeah.

Leigh Rubin [00:13:24]:
Each one of those actually went into multiple printings, and I was also publishing these at the time

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:13:28]:
Oh, wow.

Leigh Rubin [00:13:29]:
Which was was was pretty cool. Where did it go from there? Well, the then I was really working on the you know, doing the dailies and dealing with, you know, rejection after rejection from, you know, newspaper syndicates and syndicates and or end newspapers themselves. Right. You know? But still finding some success picking up more newspapers. And this is in the day where he had to make long distance calls cost money.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:13:57]:
Oh, yeah. Yeah. That’s true.

Leigh Rubin [00:13:59]:
And again, there was no Internet. Yeah. So I, you know, I would go down to the Van Nuys library on my Honda 750 and get a list of whatever I could get of all these newspapers, college newspapers, regular newspapers. And my dad was a very gracious boss as long as I got the work done and I paid for my long distance bill. I could do as much as I wanted. Wow. And I Okay. You know, could do my print my own promotion.

Leigh Rubin [00:14:21]:
And I would I would call newspapers first and say, hey. I’ve got this stuff. Do you wanna see it? If you wanna see it, I’ll send you the promotion. I mailed it out to them. They there was a little return card with a little cartoon on it, like leave me alone or, yeah, I’d like to see more or whatever it was. And it was really said stuff like that on there. Yeah. It’s not gonna be funny.

Leigh Rubin [00:14:42]:
And, that’s when I really started to pick up a lot of college newspapers. They were much easier to sell Right. Back then. Editor they you know, editors came came and went pretty fast, so you had to keep reselling every semester or year. Right.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:14:56]:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s true. Because the turnover would have been pretty high.

Leigh Rubin [00:14:59]:
Yeah. I mean, every every college had, their newspapers. You know? And I got into, like, about a 140 of them in about a year, year and a half. Wow. Okay. Over and over. I’m still working a full time job, though. So Wow.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:15:14]:
And so was this, they they were weekly? I remember my my college newspaper was weekly rather than daily. Is that what it was?

Leigh Rubin [00:15:21]:
Some were weekly. Some were daily, like, Columbia University or UCLA or USC or, MIT. All of these ran my cartoons, which was terrific. A lot of them were daily. So or 5 days a week because, you know, they Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Publish weekend.

Leigh Rubin [00:15:36]:
But a lot were maybe 2 days a week or, you know, for sure one day a week. You know, and I started to pick up other daily regular dailies. Editor and publisher ran a nice little blurb, and people saw that and would and actually would call me or write to me about it. But, again, I was still getting all these reject letters. Yeah. Yeah. And but I learned one thing from the always being nice to the receptionist, the gatekeeper, and I always was. And this one receptionist, or whoever it was, assistant to somebody at one of the Cincinnati newspapers, I was, hey.

Leigh Rubin [00:16:14]:
Can I talk to the editor? No. He’s not available now, but have you heard about this, new syndicate in Los Angeles called Creator Syndicate? And I I had not because there was no Internet. And what do I know? I mean, you know, King Features or United or Andrews and McNeil, all the big ones, Tribune Yeah. At the time. And so I I I looked them up, wrote to them, got a the typical, reject letter from Rick Newcomb, who by the way, story is in the book of how how he started Trader Syndicate. Oh my god. Wow. We we are still friends to this day.

Leigh Rubin [00:16:48]:
Then I turned that took took that same, reject that package, put a new letter on it, send it to the LA Times syndicate. They considered it for a while and rejected it. So I’ve put another letter on that and sent it back to Creator Syndicate. And then I got a call from lovely person named Anita at Creator Syndicate as I was leaving my dad’s office one day to go to a dental appointment. And she goes, hey, Leigh. We we got your package. We really love your work. Don’t sign with anybody else.

Leigh Rubin [00:17:17]:
As if there was a line of people waiting to sign me up. And I I mean, I couldn’t believe it was like because just to give you a context, syndicates were very selective about who they picked. Yeah. And they would get thousands of submissions a year. All the syndicates did. And, I mean, they had to it was a it was a lottery. You know? And this is not a guarantee of wealth. It’s a guarantee that they’re gonna put everything they can into something, and then maybe it will sell.

Leigh Rubin [00:17:50]:
Because a lot of cartoons don’t make it or columns or whatever. So I’m very fortunate.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:17:58]:
Does it work that, they they have stuff available in the syndicate and then those dailies decide they’re gonna draw from that.

Leigh Rubin [00:18:05]:
Is that how that works? Ex explain that.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:18:09]:
You’ve provided your your content. They they they bring you into the syndicate. Does that mean that that means that each paper still has to pick what they’re gonna pull from the syndicate selection. Right?

Leigh Rubin [00:18:19]:
Yeah. This the like, creators had a number of I think they have, like, a 100 features or so now. I don’t even remember. But by the time, they had a, you know, like, DD and Wizard of Viz and and Landers and all these so many, features that you would know, plus puzzles. This is well before Sudoku or Sudoku. How do you say that? I know. Whatever they are. But, you know, editorial cartoonists, editorial writers.

Leigh Rubin [00:18:46]:
Right. Rick was very smart. He got left and right. He could serve it. You know? Because papers buy these things or they did Yeah. Then. And it was, so I was among some, you know, real stars and they had to newspaper they had the salesman went out or saleswomen or people went out and had to sell it to, every single different newspaper. Wow.

Leigh Rubin [00:19:13]:
Wow. You know, it’s a business like anything else.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:19:17]:
Yeah. And and I wanna get into so doing daily cartoons, and you’re gonna be celebrating 40 years. Do you actually I mean, it’s daily, so it seems like it’s intuitive, but do you actually have to create a new cartoon every day? Or do you stockpile? Or how does that work?

Leigh Rubin [00:19:33]:
Well, I got a huge it’s like the Fort Knox of a cartoon. No. I don’t stockpile. Yes. I have to do it 7 days a week. I do get vacation time. Should I decide to take it? But I also like to stay if I don’t create if I’m not creative, if or if I’m not creating, I’m not living. I have to be creative in some way Right.

Leigh Rubin [00:19:57]:
Every day in some whether I draw that day or if I have to do 2 another day to make up for it or whatever I need to do. You know? I I work on other little projects here and there too, but I need to stay focused. And I like to so I don’t get rusty in the head.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:20:15]:
Yeah. Okay. I I I see that. And then I imagine there’s lots of cartoons that maybe don’t make it, but you know your first draft, or something, and you’re like okay.

Leigh Rubin [00:20:25]:
How high is that pile over there?

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:20:30]:
Okay. So I there’s a story about Stephen King, taking a manuscript because it bothered him so much, a horror novel, pet cemetery. This is one of the worst things he could ever think of, and and he threw it in the trash, but, unfortunately, stuff happened. He had a deadline. Tabitha pulled it out of the trash so he could meet his contract. And that was does that ever happen where you’re like, nah, this one, I gotta bring it back, or he’s just just the new content’s coming so rapidly that you never have to look at that?

Leigh Rubin [00:20:58]:
Oh god. I wish it came really that rapidly. Occasionally, every few years, I’ll leaf through that, and I’ll find something. Hey. That wasn’t so far off, and I’ll just tweak it, and it’ll work really well. If not, I use the other side for sketching and coming up with other ideas. You don’t wanna waste paper. It’s expensive paper.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:21:18]:
Yeah. Yeah. So the logistics of it, when we see your cartoon like, a lot of us now may see them shared as memes online. And and just for the the sake of of of giving you a little bit more love and people probably recognize this as you’ve got these are just some samples of of some of your cartoons. Obviously, this, Shakespeare brevity is the silhouette. Just love that one. That’s a fantastic one. Very writer related, which is why I picked these.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:21:45]:
And then, of course, the other one, where it’s a congratulations. It’s a it’s a bottle with a note. Congratulations. We’ve reviewed your manuscript in which to publish your incredible tale of survival. And, of course, by the time that comes back from the publisher, we all understand how this feels. Yep. That’s, the poor guy is dead on the on the island. Anyways, so when we see these cartoons in a newspaper Mhmm.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:22:08]:
They’re, what, a couple inches across. Right? Couple inches squared?

Leigh Rubin [00:22:12]:
Yeah. 2 by 3 or 3 by 4 or whatever they are. Yeah.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:22:15]:
But they’re not drawn that way. You actually they’re they’re drawn in a much larger size. Correct?

Leigh Rubin [00:22:19]:
8 by 9 is the box.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:22:22]:
Okay. Wow. 8 And so the envelopes that you’re mailing are gonna be big envelopes that you would would have been mailing to publishers. But that’s probably changed with technology, though. Right?

Leigh Rubin [00:22:31]:
Oh, it’s so much better now. You know, it gets expensive mailing that stuff in either UPS or FedEx. Forget it. Yeah. Now it’s like scan them, clean them up, press the button, send them to your editor. Editor So is that

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:22:44]:
what happens now? So you finish a cartoon today or if if you have already or not. I know you’re in Pacific time, so it’s earlier in the day for you. You got lots of time. But then you finish it, scan it, or or, actually, I’m gonna I’m gonna pop up a comment from somebody in the audience here Sure. Named, Teresa. You may know Teresa.

Leigh Rubin [00:23:02]:
Oh, he’s my husband.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:23:03]:
She says it’s wonderful. Of course, it’s wonderful being married to you. But, do you have a money. A first reader or someone who takes a look at your stuff before it

Leigh Rubin [00:23:11]:
gets set up? Yeah. That the lady that’s on the screen. If she says it’s sick, I get to publish. If she says it’s cute, forget it.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:23:21]:
Okay. Yeah. But that’s so you finish it, you get approval from a first reader,

Leigh Rubin [00:23:28]:
like that. If I if I have doubt about something or if I wanna, like, tweak it or make it better, I have, my former editor of creators, a guy named David, who now lives he he’s an independent editor, Now he is, honest, you know, in the most wonderful way or it goes, you know, it could be funnier Or it and it’s like, he doesn’t say, well, that sucks. He’s never liked that, but he’ll or I don’t get it. And that’s what I wanna hear is if someone else isn’t getting, someone that is very familiar with how I think and how I the voice of the characters in the cartoon, I want them to know. I’ll my current editor is also very, very good. She’s very young to me. They all are she’s, like, as young as I was when I started with Creator Syndicate. I think it was well, she may not even be that old, but Wow.

Leigh Rubin [00:24:18]:
But she’s she gets it, which is terrific. And I have a few other you know, a couple other trusted eyes, 4 other eyes, maybe 5 or 6 other eyes. Wow. If that but I let I you know? Right? Do you is this working for you? Is this clear? Am I, like, completely off base here? Right. Right. You know? I like abstract art as much as the next person that likes abstract art. If you go off, you know, it you can’t go too far off, you know, off the la la land or, like, what is that?

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:24:53]:
So speaking of, la la land or or, the fictional realities is the cover of think like a cartoonist. Cover of think like a cartoonist has, you know, rabbits taking pictures of one another. And then, of course, the one rabbit’s doing the bunny ears behind the other one. You do use, animals a lot. So let’s talk a little bit about the leveraging that anthropomorphic use of animals in in a human type situation. Sure.

Leigh Rubin [00:25:22]:
Animals are great stand ins for people. You can get away with a lot more with animals. Take, for example, the cow. You can’t really show the memories of people in daily cartoons, yet others are perfectly acceptable.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:25:44]:
They’re utterly acceptable. They are.

Leigh Rubin [00:25:46]:
Yes. Thank you. Very good. So, yeah, I mean, that’s just one example. But they if I just drew people all the time, how boring would that be? I I mean, I got a whole world of creatures, and I’ve loved drawing animals since I was a little kid. So, you know, whatever it takes. By the way, I’m so glad the publisher suggested using that cartoon because there was another piece of art that is in the book that I was I thought, oh, that’s a way better no. Well, you know, this one’s pretty known.

Leigh Rubin [00:26:18]:
Yeah. You’re okay. You’re right.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:26:21]:

Leigh Rubin [00:26:21]:
good. But I really like the other one. I think it’s in the the guy blowing the bubble gum.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:26:28]:
Oh, okay. Yeah. So So so let’s get into the details of the book. So it’s called think like a cartoonist.

Leigh Rubin [00:26:34]:

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:26:35]:
A celebration of humor and creativity by Leigh Rubin and friends. Can you talk a little bit about so how did this book come about, and and how did you get to invite so many friends like that? Let’s let’s talk about the creative, process for making this book happen.

Leigh Rubin [00:26:53]:
Someone should have warned me about this before I got into this project. So in in 2018, I was asked and honored to be, the, would I be the cartoonist in residence at Rochester Institute of Technology, which is fabulous, by the way. If you’ve noticed, I have my RIT shirt on again. So the dean of liberal arts at the time brought me in, and I was able to lecture and speak to a bunch of classes, talk about creativity and the business. Make it there’s 9 or what? Maybe 10 colleges on the campus now. I there’s a lot of new buildings there, so I it’s hard to keep track. But it was this wonderful experience, of of inter you know, interacting with students and faculty and staff. It was and I did a big piece of art, a big mural for them to kinda celebrate all the colleges that were there.

Leigh Rubin [00:27:44]:
But I thought I’d like to do something a little more in-depth. I don’t wanna do a cartoon collection because, yeah, they’re great for bathrooms and coffee tables, but something that speaks to what is it about creativity and and something that would be useful. So I met with the publisher there through the the dean brought me in and one of the other professors. And I came up with, you know, here, I have all these thoughts that I’ve been doing all these years, you know, put them in a book in some sort of format, and he was very smart. He’s very smart. And he said, what you know, you could get a lot of stories if you if I have a journalist to go out and gather stories from other people, how they were creative, how they connected the dots or solved a problem or, came up with a piece of art, something unusual, different. Just any, I don’t know, any way to think differently. I’m I’m gonna use the outside of the box, whatever metaphor, but you know what I mean? Something different, which is kinda like what I do every day.

Leigh Rubin [00:28:47]:
It’s you gotta think something different. You gotta come up with something different. What am I gonna do? I’m scrambling for an idea. And, you know, you go to any you know, Silicon Valley. All these guys came up with weird ideas at a different time or, you know, any any, like, scientific thing. It’s like I stumble into something by accident, but you connect some weird dot somehow. There’s a weird dot connecting that goes on. Now this is fall of 2019, October to be precise.

Leigh Rubin [00:29:13]:
You might, remember what came right after that. Halloween. Halloween. Oh, that is true. It came right after that. And then and then some new stories came in about this disease that was happening. So Wow. Yeah.

Leigh Rubin [00:29:29]:
And so it I had no there was no budget for this. There was no budget for me to hire a journalist. There was no budget at all. So I became that journalist. And one of the rules, I developed the rules of engagement for the book. And I Okay. I have a a friend of mine that I said, hey. A a buddy one of my oldest friends I’ve known since elementary school, we went on a road trip, and we’re on this road trip.

Leigh Rubin [00:29:52]:
His name is Rick, Rittenberg, and his story is fabulous, and it’s in that book. And he I said, Rick, would you be my guinea pig for this book? And he, he’s a retired geologist now, but he’s had a very interesting career.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:30:07]:

Leigh Rubin [00:30:08]:
And and the story he put together was wonderful. So I used that as a template to approach other people.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:30:15]:

Leigh Rubin [00:30:16]:
And but the one of the rules was, a, there had to be some connecting of dots. Okay. B, I had to know everybody personally in this book.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:30:25]:

Leigh Rubin [00:30:26]:
There was no and there there’s only one person I haven’t met in person, but I know her family, and she lives in Hawaii. And she didn’t she she didn’t invite me over, so I had to do this by phone.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:30:36]:
So it was nice how you have to work that. Right?

Leigh Rubin [00:30:39]:
Yeah. Like, I do research and, you know, in person. So I reached out to about a 150 people.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:30:45]:

Leigh Rubin [00:30:46]:
Some of whom seem to have forgotten who I was now. I mean, like, not like you know, you know, like, who you know, or ghosted me or whatever. It was kind of anyway. Yeah. I I got about a about a 100 people contributed. Unfortunately, I did not have the say in what got in. The Oh, okay. Editor or, you know, director of the press at the time.

Leigh Rubin [00:31:11]:
The book is published by our IT press, which is Yeah. Connected with the university. Right. He’s a fabulous, you know, judgment you know, judge of what to go in. Yeah. The the really painful part of this was calling people that submitted, and I had to tell them they didn’t get in. I hated that part. What’s best in you?

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:31:33]:
You weren’t the one deciding it. Oh, that might might have made it easier

Leigh Rubin [00:31:36]:
because you were But still, a husband and a husband and a wife or a girlfriend and boyfriend would commit with both submit stories, only one of them would get in. Oh, yeah. That’s kinda tough. Fun. Wow. My wife, who still loves me, apparently, her story did not get in, and I have to live with her.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:31:54]:
Oh, man. That that that that’s not fun.

Leigh Rubin [00:31:56]:
Volume 2.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:31:57]:
Yeah. But the book is dedicated to her.

Leigh Rubin [00:32:00]:
Yes. It is.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:32:01]:
Yes. It is. Saved her.

Leigh Rubin [00:32:04]:
I know what time I, you know, bread and butter on here. Come on. So, with each story, I had a cartoon to go with it. Originally, I was gonna create a brand new cartoon. I thought, this is already an exhausting task where I phone called everybody to see if they were interested. And then I emailed them all the how to do this, the format, with samples of, you know, like, 3 or 4 of them. And I wrote a number of chapters too, and half of them got cut, by the way. So you know?

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:32:36]:
Oh, you didn’t had to reject your own? You had to call yourself up and go, okay, listenly. Okay.

Leigh Rubin [00:32:41]:
You do the Charlie Brown walk, you know, with the head. Yeah. Yeah. So, and so this was a 4 year project. Wow. I mean, I I’m just like, is it ever gonna, like, end? And and finally, it it went it the way I look at it, it went through, what was it? It took 4 years. Yeah. Three different managing editors because the original managing editor retired.

Leigh Rubin [00:33:11]:
They had a interim managing editor who was on for 6 months, and the, the current managing editor, the the original director who did all that original selecting of the stories. And then the, now there’s a interim because he he’s shifted positions there. So it made it through, what, 4 4 years, 3 managing editors, 2 directors of the press, and 1 pandemic. You know, global pandemic. Yeah. Still made it. Wow. Because that’s amazing.

Leigh Rubin [00:33:42]:

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:33:43]:
It’s it’s quite it’s quite the project. I I kinda think it’s kind of interesting that there’s a bit of a parallel with the fact that when you were working selling, your, cartoons to college papers, there there was turnover. You had to, like, kinda Oh, god. Probably, like because every time a new managing editor comes in, that may mean the end of the project. Right?

Leigh Rubin [00:34:03]:
Well, it can, but all of them I mean, they can’t all be fooled. I’m not that great of a salesman. You know, like, here it is. I mean and then my guy involved, and there’s editing. And and the first editor, the the first director, you know, was very, very I mean, he didn’t mince words if he didn’t like something I wrote. So I rewrote stuff a lot of times

Kevin Tumlinson [00:34:26]:

Leigh Rubin [00:34:27]:
Which was good because Yeah. It creates a better piece to read, much more readable Yeah. Look. I mean, I real I love how it turned out in the layout. We you know, they hired a really terrific book designer and a guy named Eric Wilder. Thanks, Eric. Okay. That is

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:34:44]:
So you talked about, the editor wanting to use the cartoon of the rabbits on the cover instead of the, the Buddha blowing bubblegum. And then there’s there’s cartoon throughout the book. How did that work out in terms of obviously, you had a a layout artist who who was doing something, but did you, like, read the essays and and think, like, this this is applicable? I’m gonna put this together, and that’s where that started. And then, obviously, it was a collaborative effort from that point on.

Leigh Rubin [00:35:13]:
I just I found I have 14 to 15000 cartoons. Okay. I got something that fits just about anything. Okay. And if I had to tweak it a bit, I tweaked it a bit. Okay. Potentially, that’s and there’s some other there’s some photos in there, and there’s some other cartoonists that contributed from some crazy adventures that we had together. Yeah.

Leigh Rubin [00:35:40]:
But it’s the some but the bulk of them are, you know, just cartoons that I have done. There was one I specifically created. And there was, there’s a weird drawing in the back, which was suggested early on by the book designer. The, oh, it’s one of those it’s like an old timey drawing. I can’t think of the where the different parts of the brain are yes. It’s only in this book. Oh, and and it has to deal with the 5 senses, and you notice the biggest sense is the sense of humor.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:36:11]:
Humor, of course.

Leigh Rubin [00:36:12]:
Which is the one which is the one, I think, that we need the, and I wouldn’t know if this is the most, but it’s the one that works really good in interpersonal relationships. You know? All the other stuff is great, but humor is Yeah. Essential to a good life. Wow.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:36:31]:
So you alluded to the fact that you love drawing cows, and we referenced music quite a bit. You have an essay in the book called moos and music that was specifically written for this book, and can you elaborate a little bit on what people would find in that particular essay? Because it also has a bunch of sort of formative sketches as well as, art.

Leigh Rubin [00:36:51]:
Oh, okay. So one of my sons worked for a local guitar manufacturer, and he sent me a video of how they make guitars, you know, boutique guitar, very nice on high end, electrics. And the and it was I’m watching it. Well, this is really fascinating because I’m I’m always interested in the process, the creative process about it from design to to finish. And I’m looking at it. I’m thinking, wow. That the guitar looks like a cow. And as it turns out, those things on the, you know, electric guitar, they’re called the horns, which I didn’t know.

Leigh Rubin [00:37:29]:
I should know this. My brother is a professional musician, and he’s got a ton of guitars. And, like, why didn’t I know this? I just didn’t. So I I quick grabbed an envelope. There’s some old bill envelope. You know, I had and I sketched out what it would look like. And then I I was doing a trade show in Wisconsin every year called the World Dairy Expo where, a lot of, agricultural newspapers or publications published my work, and I wanted something special. I thought, what if I bring a really cool electric guitar there? That’d be awesome.

Leigh Rubin [00:37:59]:
You know? I don’t know how to play, but there are guitar players there and, you know Yeah. They did kind of so this went through a lot of iterations of of how could I get this guitar and, I you know, I it’s a whole story of how the guitar went from start to finish. And I hope you like the photos and and all that because they’re definitely a lot of fun. I still have there’s only there were 3 of these guitars made. It ended up, I through a a friend of mine that is in a local band, knew the head designer at Ernie Ball, which may you may or may not know of that name, but they’re they’re big on guitar strings and make high end really nice electric guitars, basses. Yeah. And they agreed to make this guitar for me, provide me with if I would paint it and do everything. You know, the front looks like a cow, and the back looks like the back of a cow.

Leigh Rubin [00:38:54]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So there it is. And this was in fact, this this model was actually the original Ernie Ball, Eddie Van Halen model when he was, you know, woah, sponsored by by Ernie Ball. It’s now called something else, and they maybe they changed the design. But it was just a blast. And the agreement was I made one for me if I would make one for them.

Leigh Rubin [00:39:19]:
So in their vault of all their very expensive guitars is the only other fully assembled cow guitar. There was a guy in the Midwest that sent me a blank of, another manufacturer some years later that I painted one for. Wow. It’s a very labor intensive I can imagine. Process. Yeah.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:39:39]:
So wow. Thank you, for sharing that.

Leigh Rubin [00:39:41]:
Sure. You too. All these all these collectibles we’re

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:39:44]:
we’re hearing about that people can like, the collectors can go after. So, well, I’m gonna start off with the question that Jim asked, in the comments. Jim Jim, Azevedo said, highly, do you feel creativity is, bludgeoned out of most people through school or work, or do you feel it’s a choice?

Leigh Rubin [00:40:05]:
Well, for me, it’s not a choice. It’s a it’s a must. I have heard this before, and I think if it it it’s really depends on the individual, you know, how much of your desire is to be creative. I mean, it’s not like you have to make your living at it. If you know, people are creative in so many ways, whether, you know, it could be gardening or, you know, just whatever it is in your in your home. You know, home decorating or, you know, making clothes a a certain way. I mean, artisans and artists are very you know, it’s kind of almost infinite how you can do it. When I see the artist this art students at RIT, medical illustration where it has to be so precise and technical, like, you go to your doctor’s office and see all those, you know, the cutaways of your body.

Leigh Rubin [00:41:00]:
To me, I which I didn’t know was even a profession. Now I know, to, you know, just, you know, fine arts. It’s Yeah. It’s so wide and varied. These students don’t have it beat out of them or, you know, or really you know, they know how to do it, and and they’re taught by just fabulous professors. I know I sound like I’m doing a commercial, but I mean, they’ve you know, it’s my experience. I’ve seen them in work because I talk to other classrooms, and I see their art, and it’s it’s very inspirational. And these are all, you know, 18 to 22 year olds.

Leigh Rubin [00:41:35]:
So it depends, again, on where you work and find an outlet.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:41:41]:
Oh, wow. So as we as we get close to the end of the interview, any advice you would offer? I mean, you’re you’re about to celebrate your 40th anniversary of doing something you absolutely love. And

Leigh Rubin [00:41:53]:
keep reminding me of this. I’m feeling kind of old.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:41:56]:
Right. I just I I just I think about this you’ve got the to to make people laugh, you’ve got to create something fun, and then, you know, grab pieces of envelopes and scratch down little ideas, and you’ve got thousands of unused ones. But just advice for somebody who is creative as a writer or cartoonist or humorist or whatever, any advice that you would have for longevity in in in the business?

Leigh Rubin [00:42:20]:
Well, just don’t stop doing it. And these days, if you wanna be seen it, it is the competition is there’s so much stuff on, like, what, TikTok and Instagram and Facebook and every other platform you can think of, but it’s a wide open world now where before it wasn’t. Yeah, you know, it was very you have to really figure it out. And now it’s like, well, I could post anything I want anywhere I want. And you’ll find out soon enough if you develop an audience, and there’s much smarter people than me figuring out how to use social media to get the word out. Well, kinda like you. But, you know, but, I mean, it’s some you know, younger artists have massive followings Yeah. That I I can learn from them a lot.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:43:08]:
Yeah. Of course. Awesome. As we all learn from one another, it’s part of the creative world. That’s right.

Leigh Rubin [00:43:16]:
Yeah. Awesome. Smashwords.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:43:19]:
Yeah. Leigh, where can people find out more about you online? Check out your new book. Check out all the cool things that is Leigh Rubin.

Leigh Rubin [00:43:27]:
Rubescartoons.com. We’re right there. Rubescartoons.com. And at rubescartoons is my social media handle for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. What’s you know, Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter.

Leigh Rubin [00:43:43]:
Yeah. Yeah.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:43:44]:
So look for at rubescartoons. Do follow Leigh online. You will not be disappointed. You will be amused, entertained, and inspired. Leigh, thank you for entertaining and inspiring and informing us for the last 45 minutes.

Leigh Rubin [00:43:58]:
Well, thank you, Mark. I appreciate you having me me on. Awesome.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:44:02]:
And I wanna thank, again, thank Leigh for being here today. I wanna thank you guys for watching the show. If, I’d love if you could like, share, comment, subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of these. And if you don’t wanna miss them, be sure to bookmark d2dlive.com. We come at you every week, Thursdays at 1 o’clock EST. And if you are an author and you’re looking to get your work into the world and use the free tools and resources for digital publishing, you can create a free account over at draft to digital.com. Again, my name is Mark Leslie Lefebvre. I was honored to have Leigh Rubin in the studio with me from Rubes Cartoons.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:44:44]:
Leigh, thanks again for joining me, and everyone have a great day.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:44:50]:
Bye bye. Ebooks are great, but there’s just something about having your words in print, something you can hold in your hands, put on a shelf signed for a reader. That’s why we created D2D Print, a print on demand service that was built for you. We have free beautiful templates to give your book a pro look, and we can even convert your ebook cover into a full wraparound cover for print. So many options for you and your books. And you can get started right now at draft2digital.com. That’s it for this week’s self publishing insiders with Draft2Digital. Be sure to subscribe to us wherever you listen to podcasts and share the show with your will be author friends, and start, build, and grow your own self publishing career right now at draft2digital.com.