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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Sep 11, 2020

Mark interviews cartoonist Leigh Rubin of Rubes® the internationally syndicated single-panel cartoon that he has been creating since November 1984.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a few comments from recent episodes and Twitter, and the says a word about this episode's sponsor, Findaway Voices.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

In his personal update, Mark shares:

  • What he is doing on the Obsessions anthology project
  • A forthcoming $0.99 price-drop promo for Stowe Away, the latest release in his Canadian Werewolf series.
  • How he "met" Leigh after creating a short dad joke video entitled "Dramatic Exit" inspired by one of his Rubes® cartoons.

In their conversation, Mark and Leigh talk about:

  • The two things that Leigh excelled at in Kindergaten. Napping and cartooning.
  • Pushing the boundaries in his cartoons from those earliest days.
  • The encouragement received from his third grade teacher, Mrs. Mullin.
  • The two kinds of people an artist usually remembers: the people who encourage you, and the people who don't
  • How seeing a line of greeting cards from Sandra Boynton were part of the inspiration for Leigh to start his own greeting card company
  • All of the work "hitting the street" involved in selling greeting cards, including buying space in industry trade shows, having racks built, and making numerous sales calls
  • Learning about industry practices such as retail slotting fees for prime merchandising space in a store
  • The powerful and positive impression made from a series of terrible musical puns that Leigh drew up, and how that led to Leigh's first book, which migrated into three volumes called: Notable Quotes, Encore, and Amusing Arrangements
  • Selling more than 40,000 copies of his books without having a major publisher or distributor for them
  • The evolution of greeting cards to books, books to a book signing, and a book signing to a daily cartoon gig at a local publisher, which eventually led to being a syndicated cartoonist
  • Working through numerous and consistent rejections with the queries that Leigh continued to send out, until finally picking up 150 different newspapers to start carrying his cartoons
  • Why Leigh investigated the college newspaper scene, and the benefit and down-side of that market
  • Discovering Creators Syndicate and the initial nice personal rejection Leigh received from them
  • Leigh's view that not all rejections are a bad thing
  • The pilot episode of a television show that Leigh created with Ryan Johnson (a movie and television show break-away prop maker) called Drawing Inspiration which is a behind-the-scenes look at their weird jobs that depend entirely on creativity
  • How, once the daily blank cartoon sheet is taped down to Leigh's desk, a cartoon must appear, whether it takes 10 minutes or 5 hours.
  • The cancellation of so many events, and migrating into a virtual event, which Leigh had just done the evening before this interview (link in show notes)
  • How two different cartoonists adapted the same topic/theme into different cartoons (as demonstrated on the aforementioned virtual event)
  • The importance of leaving something to the reader's imagination in humor
  • Why big brands should support artists instead of only sports stars because they are constantly running marathons
  • And more . . .


After the interview, Mark reflects Leigh's discipiline of sitting at the empty page for 5 minutes or 5 hours, whatever it takes, the persistence he showed in the fact of rejection, and looking for specific niche markets to break into with his work.

Mark also shares the opportunity for people who comment on the episode show notes at to win one of Leigh's signed books.


Links of Interest:


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0