New book is on the stands- Rube Goldberg's Simple Normal Humdrum School Day.

Posted 09.28.2017 at 12:00AM |

In all major bookstores, retail and online stores now, the very first children's book illustrated by... me.

Rube Goldberg's Simple Normal Humdrum School Day, published by Abrams Books, written by Jennifer George, is a long in the making project that started realistically almost four years ago.

And yes, I'm selling signed and personalized copies right here on my page!
If you're unfamiliar with Rube Goldberg, here's what Webster's has to say about it: 

Rube Gold•berg. adjective \ rüb-gōl(d)-bərg\: accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply; also: Rube Gold•berg•i•an

Elaborate contraptions that perform the simplest of tasks.

This book reinvents Rube, who'll I'll talk about shortly, as a kid.  A kid who creates goofy complicated machines to help him get through his day.  I'll write about the process one of these days, but for now, here's a few pages from this behemoth project. 

An easy way to get dressed:

A sneaky way to get out of class early:

A perfect way to put toothpaste on a toothbrush:

And, for fun, one of my favorites- the endpapers- what's on the inside of the hardcover and the first page.

This one seriously took a lot longer than you'd think to paint.

All the final art you see in the book was done traditionally, with pen & ink and watercolor on Strathmore paper ply 500 series paper.  Initial sketches and layouts were done on a Wacom Cintiq with Adobe Photoshop.  Since you asked.

Rube Goldberg was, of course a real person.  Rube (1883-1971) was a cartoonist as well as a trained engineer.  
He was the consummate cartoonist- prolific, extremely talented, immensely influential and versatile.  His career spanned decades, and it's mind boggling when you actually see how much work he produced in his long life.

Of all the cartoons Rube did, his invention cartoons in the comics pages of the newspapers garnered him almost immediate worldwide fame.  Already by the 1920s, he was a superstar not just in his field, but to legions of readers around the world who poured over his strips weekly.  His wacky inventions hit a cord with the public- it's been hypothesized that they were a direct result of the Industrial Revolution and mankind's increased ability to get more done with less, through the use of machinery. This idea, coupled with Rube's weariness of the potential for future technology to run amok, led to the use of less realistic mechanical devices, and more plants, animals and exceedingly goofy elements peppered within pulleys, gears, levers and ropes leads to a better understanding of Rube's very distinct vision.   And then there's the jokes.  It's often overlooked in conversations about Rube, his wit was sharp, and his gags are regularly flat out hilarious.  In prepping for this book, I read the majority of the vintage cartoons, and they're unlike anything I've ever read.  Completely ridiculous ideas and scenarios, told in a believable fashion so as to sell the gag.  He walked a fine line between absurdity and reality.  I know after doing this book that that's an extremely difficult maneuver.

The terrific book, The Art of Rube Goldberg, has tons of vintage Rube cartoons, drawings, stories, and is the definitive resource on all things Rube.  And you can take that to the bank, as it's author is MY author, Jennifer George, who is Rube's granddaughter.  (Coincidentally, we also have the same editor, the great Charlie Kochman, also the editor of the Wimpy Kid books.)
Jennifer grew up with Rube a big part of her life until his death in 1971.  Numerous accounts of her life with Rube along with essays and anecdotes by friends and colleagues (Al Jaffee!) fill this book- I can't recommend it enough.

Rube was also a founding father of the National Cartoonists Society, who's top award for Cartoonist of the Year, the Reuben, is named after him. He designed that award years before he actually won it in 1967.

Click here to order a signed and personalized copy of the book!