Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Belltower: Cartoonist, Placervillians sympatico

CARTOONIST Leigh Rubin, center in dark sport coat and light slacks, poses with audience members Dec. 10 in the Mountain Democrat lobby. Photo courtesy Leigh Rubin

From page A4 | December 16, 2010 | Leave Comment

What a treat. Friday, Dec. 10, Mountain Democrat Advertising Director Ian Balentine and I had the pleasure of welcoming almost 100 people to our Broadway office. Assisting Ian with handing out free raffle tickets were his daughters, Kylie, 10, and Amanda, 6. They were wonderful gems.

The occasion was Rubes cartoonist Leigh Rubin coming to the Mountain Democrat to give an hour and a half talk and show.

The El Dorado Arts Council graciously let us borrow its 50 folding chairs and we made the rest up with office chairs. The Boy Scouts seeemed to enjoy spinning around in the swivel chairs. It reminded me of the last time I visited the managing editor in Fairfield and he talked about having swivel chair races. I think they had had vinyl flooring in their conference room and hallway at the time. That was some time ago. Our office was downtown then and our chairs were kind of funky, not conducive to racing. No space for that anyway. And our offices have always been carpeted.

The audience really enjoyed Rubin’s anecdotes about where he gets his cartoon ideas from. He has published about 9,000 cartoons by this time. He can do anywhere from one to three cartoons a day, depending on how quickly the ideas come to him.

Cartooning is like any creative process. The more you do it the more creative you get. Creativity comes from hard work.

My son and I were listening to Garrison Keillor on the radio once when he was still in high school. My son wondered how he memorized such a long script when he would talk about the Norwegians and the Lutherans in Lake Woebegone.

I told him it was simple. He was so experienced at talking that he might have the outlines of a story, but once he started telling it the creative process would take over and it was clear to me that Keillor made up a lot of it as he talked. Sometimes he didn’t even know where the story was going to wind up until he came to an end.

The same thing happens to me when writing editorials. I start out with one concept, but once I start writing, things come into my head, whether it’s a turn of phrase or a point of information that I hadn’t thought of until I started writing. Having written a couple of thousand editorials means I’ve done the hard work that promotes the creative process.

Leigh Rubin sure got the audience to laugh a lot. He called me Wednesday to thank us for  hosting him and remark about what a great audience the folks of Placerville were and what great questions they asked.

He was also impressed with the turnout for his free show. Somebody counted raffle tickets for us and informed us there were 96. There were probably a dozen more who came in after the show started and we stopped handing out raffle tickets.

Janie Esposito’s hot apple cider was a hit. By the end of the show they were tipping the coffee pot of cider for one last cup. I brought a coffee pot with coffee and enough people liked coffee that it was half empty. I hope nobody was disappointed I forgot to get the cream I bought out of the refrigerator. I’m a black coffee person. The cookie basket was just about empty also.

Rubin, who drove up from his sister’s house in Orangevale, really enjoyed the people of Placerville and the feeling was mutual. The people who won the raffle for the five signed color cartoon prints that he gave away were just happy as clams.

And Rubin wants to come back to Placerville next year. Meantime look for his cartoons in our paper. Oftentimes they appear in the back of the A section now because the new press configuration requires us to have the same number of pages in the A section as in the B section. I rather like having the cartoons in the A section.

When we dropped our Thursday edition I pared down the cartoons to what I felt were the consistently funny ones. I did get a few complaints about dropping Dennis the Menace, but I felt it was the same jokes I have been reading for 50 years and they just weren’t funny anymore. It’s like, what ever happened to Gasoline Alley, Alley Oop, Archie and Veronica, Dagwood, Lil Abner, and the Katzenjammer Kids? Not funny anymore. When a comic about cubicle life is a hit with desk calendars you  know that people are looking for something a little edgier, a little more sophisticated. Nobody would understand the Katzenjammer Kids these days, let alone Gasoline Alley.

Leigh Rubin and his Rubes cartoons were sympatico with Placerville. Thanks to Mr. Rubin for coming to Placerville the day after appearing in Sacramento. And thank you dear readers for coming  on a drizzly Friday evening to hear a cartoonist and buy some of his books and calendars.

Michael Raffety is editor of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears biweekly.

Michael Raffety


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