Episode 378 – Ruben Bolling

Virtual Memories Show 378: Ruben Bolling

“For the first 10 years, the only evidence I had that Tom The Dancing Bug was being read was that checks would come in from newspapers. I had no reader interaction, no idea what strips worked and didn’t work, and no idea if anyone was reading anything I wrote.”

Herblock Award-winning cartoonist Ruben Bolling joins the show to celebrate 30 years of his comic, Tom The Dancing Bug! We talk about his two new collections, Into the Trumpverse and The Super-Fun-Pak Comix Reader (Clove Press), and how pandemic-uncertainty means you’ll need to pre-order those books NOW in order to get ’em (as in, before June 30, 2020!). We also get into how Tom The Dancing Bug has evolved over the decades, why he’s never drawn himself in a strip (which I think is tied into his regret at using a pseudonym all these years), the benefits of using an open format without recurring characters (for the most part), how Bill Griffith‘s Zippy the Pinhead blew his mind when he was young, his embarrassment of riches when the blurbs for Into the Trumpverse started coming in, secretly being glad his kids are around so much during the pandemic, why he’d love to get back to making more of his EMU Club series of kids books, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go re-order Into the Trumpverse and The Super-Fun-Pak Comix Reader by June 30, 2020!

“It’s hard to do funny satire during a national tragedy. Or two or three national tragedies, depending on how you count it.”

“Editors are the first reader, but every week all I get is, ‘Do you want a comma after this?’ or, ‘There’s an alternate spelling for this word you might want to use,’ but that’s about it.”


Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Ruben Bolling is the author of Tom the Dancing Bug, the weekly comic strip seen by millions across the world and internet. Tom the Dancing Bug has appeared in hundreds of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, and The New Yorker. It appears on some of the biggest websites, such as BoingBoing.net and GoComics.com. Ruben Bolling is also the author of the series of kids’ books, The EMU Club Adventures. He lives in New York City with his wife, three kids, and one hamster.

Follow Ruben on Twitter and Instagram, and support his work via The Inner Hive.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Ruben by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

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