Local cartoonist returns to roots

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Leigh Rubin
Leigh Rubin

Syndicated cartoonist Leigh Rubin will return to his roots on Saturday, June 13 when he speaks about his work at the Forest Hills Library.

Now a resident of California, Rubin was born in Kew Gardens before his family moved to Long Island.

It was as a small child that Rubin got his start as a cartoonist. He already had a love of drawing while in kindergarten. One day, he drew a cartoon that he said was not meant to be funny.

“It got such a good reaction from my parents and my kindergarten teacher I like to think it was my first inspiration to [create] cartoons,” said Rubin, adding that his father also had a love of daily cartoons.

Throughout his school years, Rubin continued to draw, and was eventually able to turn that love of drawing into a career.

Rubin’s career began in 1978 when he started a greeting card company. Just a few years later, in 1981, he did his first cartoon collection. In 1984 he started his now syndicated cartoon Rubes and soon after published several books of his work.

“One thing kind of led to another,” Rubin said.

November of this year will mark the 25th anniversary of the cartoon, which Rubin said is hard to believe. He still creates the cartoon on a daily basis, saying that the fun part is the challenge of coming up with new and fresh ideas.

Rubes is also now used for books and calendars.

“I’m a full believer in exploiting my own work,” Rubin joked. “I didn’t sign on to be a starving artist.”

Rubin’s upcoming presentation at Forest Hills Library will mark the first time that he has given one in Queens. Last January, he was an invited speaker at an American Library Association event where he met someone who worked at the library. That person gave Rubin the appropriate contact information to find out about speaking at the Forest Hills Library.

“They were real happy to have me,” Rubin said. “If they’re happy to have me, I’m happy to come back [to Queens].”

When he speaks at the library, Rubin said people can expect a “lot of cheap laughs.” He said that he will be talking about how he got started, share some of his rejection letters, and talking to people about thinking creatively.

Rubin said that he his hoping there will be lots of laughs at the library.

“That’s what the whole fun part of this thing is,” Rubin said, adding that it’s “all the better” if he leaves people smiling. “I like people to have a good time. We sure need it these days.”

Rubin’s presentation, “Drawing Upon Experience,” will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 13. The Forest Hills Library is located at 108-19 71st Avenue and can be reached by calling 718-268-7934.

For more information about Rubin, his cartoon Rubes or his other works, visit www.rubescartoons.com.