The Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon featuring Leigh Rubin, Central Coast local and author of worldwide syndicated comic Rubes. The theme of the luncheon was “Tap into Your Creativity.”
Rubin pointed out that creativity is where you find it, giving examples of comics that were inspired by mundane activities such as mowing the lawn or flossing your teeth. Instead of people, Rubin draws animal characters and presents them in slightly skewed situations.
“You can get away with a lot more with cows in cartoons than you can with people in cartoons,” Rubin said.
Rubin says that most people that talk to him want to know where his ideas come from.
“I think that’s what people are most interested in really, that gags are great but where does this stuff come from, because people always have to be [creative],” Rubin said. “In any business, you are looking for that creative edge or the creative spark. There is no end to where it comes from. It’s not a finite resource.”
Rubin didn’t set out to be a world class cartoonist and he definitely did not immediately quit his day job. He worked in his mom and dad’s press shop, the Great Print Machine, for 21 years. Utilizing his father’s press, Rubin began printing greeting cards. He then brought his work to trade shows until he found vendors that were interested in his creations. He later graduated to making fridge magnets featuring his art and sold them in local street fairs. One day a man approached Rubin’s booth and planted an idea in his head.
“A guy came up to me and said, ‘These are really funny. You should make a book,’” said Rubin. He did just that. Rubin printed 5,000 books and placed them on consignment in bookstores. During one of his book signing events the entertainment editor of Antelope Valley Press offered the opportunity to do a daily panel comic. Originally, Rubin had to rely on his own salesmanship, now he employs a company to reach out to publications on his behalf.
Rubin is as creative with his diversification as he is with his artistry. He works with speaking agencies to book gigs, still draws greeting cards and is currently producing a TV show. He has also done TV bumpers (quick bits in between commercial breaks) and his work was even used in the opening credits of a movie. This year, his daily calendar for 2017 “Rubes, Zoo in a Box” sold out on Amazon.com; the merchandise sold 2.5 times more than the previous year.
“I don’t want to be limited to daily stuff, even though it’s challenging, I know the routine,” Rubin said. “I get bored easily, so I want to do different things.” His routine involves drawing a panel comic daily.
As to be expected, Rubin was involved in the SLO Cow Parade, and of course, he applied his own comic spin to it. With help from Ryan Johnson, Hollywood prop maker and owner of New Rule FX, Rubin created Adventure Cow. A 3D representation of Rubin’s cows in a cape that performs local stunts such as zip lining, taking a plunge during the Cayucos Polar Bear Dip, and of course, surfing. You might be able to catch Adventure Cow Kayaking in Morro Bay in the next couple of weeks.
Check out all of Rubin’s projects at www.rubescartoons.com/
By Mark A. Diaz