Tuesday, October 26, 2010
CARTOONIST LEIGH RUBIN, CREATOR OF 'RUBES,' DISARMS AND DELIGHTS HIS AUDIENCE AT WAGNER COLLEGE
By KIAWANA RICH
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Cartoonist Leigh Rubin, the creator of the popular "Rubes" comic strip, has been described by some as "a sit-down comedian."
Apparently, Rubin can tell some really good jokes when he stands up, too.
Using his wit, his oddball and sometimes almost politically incorrect sense of humor, and enough of his one-panel slides to fill a comic strip lovers' dreams, Rubin hosted "A Twisted Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste" last night at Wagner College, Grymes Hill.
The free, hilarious one-hour presentation happens again tonight at 7 in the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, 1000 Richmond Terr., Livingston.
The appearances are co-sponsored by the Advance and the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island.
Rubin, a California resident, used the time to keep the crowd -- comprising Wagner students, faculty and die-hard fans, young and old -- convulsed in laughter as he discussed his life, his family, his career and his inspiration.
"I wanted to be an artist at age 7 or 8," he said. Building on that dream, his strip now appears in more than 400 papers nationwide.
Rubin said he finds inspiration in the world around him, especially his three children, creating panels like teenage roosters sleeping way past dan, and the extreme of a teen who should not have pushed his chair backwards from the dinner table only to fall off a cliff.
Rubin's weapons of choice: Animals, especially chickens, roosters, pigs, oversize humans and cows, especially cows. He also weaves science, history and everyday life into his strip -- like the futuristic man in the spaceship who drives off leaving a cup of coffee on the roof.
"There is humor in everything. If you don't stay aware of it, then life gets way too serious," he said.
Rubin added that in 1997, he made a panel where Mary Todd questioned Abraham Lincoln, "Does this make me look fat?" -- long before Geico scored a big hit with it.
"I should at least get free insurance," he joked. Rubin said his social commentary is subtle -- designed to push boundaries, not go overboard.
But his most interesting panel was simple all-white space in a black border.
"This is what I face every day," he said told the crowd in a serious tone. "I must fill this paper with something that will entertain me, generally surprise me, hopefully surprise you -- all in 15 seconds. And I have to do that the better part of 365 days," adding, "And so far I've fooled enough people that it's working," he joked, adding in earnest: "It hasn't gotten any easier, but it sure is a lot of fun."
Nationally syndicated cartoonist speaks at WagnerNovember 2, 2010