Rhode Island Comic Con 2019, the smallest state’s biggest comic book convention, kicked off last week and ran from November 1st to the 3rd. Kevin had the great privilege of speaking to Joe Rubinstein, an industry veteran that has worked many of your favorite series, such as the 1982 Wolverine mini-series and 1992’s Infinity Gauntlet. Joe shared some insight on inking, working with great creative teams, and the state of the industry.
Comic Watch: Have you been to Rhode Island Comic Con before?
Joe Rubinstein: Yes I have.
CW: I don’t think many casual readers think about inkers. So inking was your foot in the door?
JR: It was pretty much my entire body in the door. Yes, that’s what I do primarily is just ink for comics. I got successful enough inking to try penciling and then I got more interested in being a painter and a fine artist. So the inking was great and got me to collaborate with artists who were just wonderful but it paid for my painting habit all these years.
CW: That’s awesome. A day job and then a passion
JR: An all day job and then a passion.
CW: So were you just taking any job? It seems like you were working a lot, like consistently.
JR: Yeah, I mean, pretty much any job. I mean unless it was — I mean sometimes you take jobs you don’t want because the editor asks you to. Sometimes it’s just maybe the workflow isn’t great so somebody offers you a job so you say sure. It used to be a buyer’s market, now it’s a seller’s market.
CW: So going into the Wolverine mini-series– because it’s so successful now and it’s such a solid creative team, going in did you know it was a solid creative team?
JR: Frank [Miller] walked up to me at Marvel’s offices and said, “We’re doing this mini-series of Wolverine, you want to ink it?” I go, “Yeah.” That was it, you know, that was it and you do it. It’s the same when you ask people, “ So what was it like making Gone with the Wind?” It’s a job. We did it, we came in, it was a job, we had lunch. So you always try — I always try to do the very best I can do within the limitations of time, but I had no idea the thing would have legs for the next forty years and was a big deal. I just thought, “Alright, I was loving what Frank was doing on Daredevil and I said sure I’m happy to do a series with him.”
CW: And was it kind of the same thing with Infinity Gauntlet?
JR: Yeah, yeah! I’m sure I just walked into — in the old days you had to live in New York tri-state area to get work because the internet wasn’t happening and FedEx and all that stuff. So a lot of times you are around the office, you hand in a job, you hang out for awhile. I guess I was up at the offices and the editor said we’re doing this thing do you want to ink it and I went “Who’s the penciler?” They said “George Perez.” I was like, “Oy, oy,” only not as a judgment against George’s work but acknowledgement of how much concentrated details are in it. But I took it and then to my surprise three issues into it George was gone then Ron Lim was there. But Starlin and I are the most consistent thing about the six issues even though George inked Ron Lim’s covers, so he was there more or less for the six issues also.
CW: So the movies now, you had no idea they’d pick up like that. Do you think the movies, like The Wolverine movie and even the Avengers stuff, do you think those are bringing people back to the original issues?
JR: No I don’t I think when the public goes to see Avengers: Endgame or Wolverine I don’t think they leave saying “I’d love to read a Wolverine comic.” I think they take it for what it is and enjoy it. Last I heard, sales of comic books are not great and yet this appears to be the era of the superhero: every TV show, every movie, every everything is superheroes, but the comic books aren’t selling.
CW: Is there anything you’re currently working on or future projects?
JR: I just finished 40 pages about a hundred page graphic novel called Liberty Brigade published by Thrilling Nostalgia Press which you can find on Facebook and Ron Frenz is the penciler who I did Superman and Spider-Man with and it’s about common domain superheroes fighting Nazis in 1947. the other forty pages is by Barry Kitson But we have special features by George Perez, Alan Davis, Mike Perkins. So yeah, if you want to see a comic book that looks like a comic book you should pick this thing up
CW: Where can people find you?
JR: You can find me on Facebook, you can find me on Instagram, but I have a website called joerubinsteinart.com in case you want the comic book convention experience without having to go to one.
Day Job and a Passion: An Interview with Joe Rubinstein
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