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Tony Rubino
Cartoonist -- "Daddy's Home"
Friday, April 18, 2008; 1:00 PM

Join Washington Post Comics page editor Suzanne Tobin on Friday, April 18 at 1 p.m. ET for a discussion with " Daddy's Home" creator Tony Rubino.

Submit questions and comments before or during the discussion.

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Suzanne Tobin: Welcome,comics fans, to another edition of "Comics: Meet the Artist." Today our guest is Tony Rubino, creator of "Daddy's Home," which is the first of three tryout strips we are running for four weeks each in place of "Doonesbury" while Garry Trudeau takes a 12-week break.

Welcome, Tony, and thanks for joining our reader Live Online.

Tony Rubino: Hello everybody. Hi Suzanne. Thank you and "The Post" for having me, and for testing "Daddy's Home." It's an honor.

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NY, NY: What was your inspiration for the comic? Are you or Gary a stay at home dad?

Tony Rubino: Gary is a Dad. And I pretty much just stay home. So between the both of us, we've got it covered.

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ComicsDC: How did you get syndicated? Did the syndicate run you online and then move you to their offering to newspapers?

Tony Rubino: No. We did not run online first. By the way, I say, "we" because I have a partner in this venture. Gary Markstein. He does the illustration. He is a very talented and established Editorial cartoonist in his own right. To answer your question. I have been working on getting syndicated for many many years, It's tough.

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ComicsDC, VA: Did Doonesbury's vacation bring a lot of opportunities for you besides the Washington Post?

Tony Rubino: Doonesbury's break helped a little bit. And it helped other cartoonists as well. Space is at such a premium on the comics pages that it always helps when room becomes available.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: When did you start creating comics? Did you have a comic in your high school newspaper? What drew you to developing such great comics?

Tony Rubino: I started drawing when I was very young, and I always liked to make people laugh. So, it just seemed like the logical thing to do. I didn't do a comic in my HS paper, but I did have one in my college newspaper, at American University, right there in DC.

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McLean : Did you ever consider doing this as a panel instead of a strip?

Tony Rubino: No. It's definitely works better as a strip. But Gary and I that's my partner, Gary Markstein, often do one panels within the strip format

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Berwyn Heights: When did you KNOW you wanted to draw for a living? And did you always want to do cartoons or did you originally aspire to be work in a different style?

Tony Rubino: I knew I wanted to do this for a living when it became apparent that I couldn't do anything else. I've also written books and done some other stuff along "creative" lines. You can see that on my website at: www.rubinocreative.com

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Capitol South: Can you tell us which cartoonists inspire you?

Tony Rubino: When I was a kid, Johnny Hart. Then Waterson, Larson. Mad Magazine was a big influence

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Dulles Town Center: Alright, I'm profiling here, but with a name like Rubino, were you a "Sopranos" fan?

Tony Rubino: Of course. Badabing.

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wash dc: I Like this Daddy's Home comic. I hope you keep it in the Post

Suzanne Tobin: Make sure you vote in our survey. Point your browser to xnews/comics/survey.cfm to let us know what you think of "Daddy's Home."

Tony Rubino: Me too! Don't forget to vote for it if you like it. It's just like American Idol only without Ryan Seacrest or singing or idols.

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Cheverly: You mentioned your partner, Gary Markstein. Does one of you write and the other one draw the strip? Or do you alternate those duties? How did you two come to collaborate on this cartoon?

Tony Rubino: I mainly write and gary draws. Gary occasional contributes to the writing. But the whole process is very symbiotic. As for how we met. That's a long story. You'll have to wait for the movie.

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Potomac: So you went to AU? What was your major? Did you work on the paper?

Tony Rubino: Yep. I went to AU. My major was Journalism with an art minor. And I did a cartoon for the paper.

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Suzanne Tobin: Sorry about all the question marks, folks. We've asked Tony to make an adjustment that should fix that little technical difficulty.

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Rockville MD: Are you getting feedback from men who relate, are there more are staying home or working from home these days?

Tony Rubino: More and more men are becoming stay-at-home Dads. That is only trending upward. And, in my opinion, there really isn't any other comic out there that speaks to that accurately, and is funny at the same time. But the strip deals with issues relating to parents, families and men and women in general. That's what Gary and I are trying to do while being funny at the same time.

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Mount Pleasant: How did you choose the name of the comic? Did you make them up or did the syndicate make suggestions?

Tony Rubino: We came up with the comic's name

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Frederick, MD: So whose life is it anyway? How close to home do the

strips come to either of your lives? And great to see some

fresh stuff in the Post. Hope your tryout leads to a

permanent spot.

Bob S.

Tony Rubino: So whose life is it anyway? Isn't that a TV show? It's both our lives. I think all the character's make up my personality. From your fingers to the Editor's ears.

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Bethesda, MD: Were you a funny child? Can you relate to your character Elliot?

Tony Rubino: I was "funny looking."

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Chantilly, Va.: Are you familiar with Gene Weingarten's chat on washingtonpost.com? He talks alot about the comics. Are there any blogs or other sites you would recommend for a fan of the comics?

Tony Rubino: There are many. The Daily Cartoonist, comes to mind. e-mail me and I'll give you more.

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Downtown DC: I've only seen your strip a few times--how is your approach different from "Baby Blues", which focuses on a stay-at-home mom? Is a stay-at-home dad just funnier, or would it work for either parent?

Tony Rubino: Aside from the obvious differences, funny is funny. I just happen to be focusing on a stay-at-home dad.

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Devon, Pa: How much do you and Gary influence each other, if at all. Do you try to influence his illustrations or does he suggest creational changes?

Tony Rubino: We influence each other greatly. This strip would be totally different if one of us was missing from the equation.

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Alexandria, VA: Ultimately, what do you hope to accomplish with "Daddy's Home"?

Tony Rubino: Total world domination. No. I want to entertain as many people as possible with it. Then total world domination.

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St. Louis, MO: On Gene Weingarten's chat a couple of weeks ago, there were some comments about how unrealistic your strip was. Have you heard any criticism and if so do you plan to take it into account in future strips?

Tony Rubino: Response to Daddy's Home has been overwhelmingly positive. Especially from Moms and Dads, be they stay-at-home or not. In fact, Gene is the only one, that I know of who thinks otherwise. And he is completely entitled to his opinion. It's unfortunate that he has chosen to judge the whole comic on its first few weeks in existence. But I think he'll come around. And yes. We welcome and take all comments into consideration.

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Takoma Park Maryland: Do you worry about running out of material? How far in advance do you have to write?

Tony Rubino: I'm writing for June and July right now. And no, I don't worry about running out of material. At least I didn't til just now. Thanks a lot.

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Chevy Chase : Are any of the characters in the strip based on real people?

Tony Rubino: They all are to a certain extent.

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Bethesda, Maryland: Do you plan on using political humor during the presidential campaign?

Tony Rubino: Probably.

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Washington, D.C.: Did you write and illustrate for your AU comic or just write. What was that comic about?

Tony Rubino: I wrote and illustrated the AU comic. It was about just about whatever was in my head at the time. So it was about drinking and um... "dating"

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Rutland, Vermont: Did you do any demographic surveys to determine whether the subject matter of your strip would be well received?

Tony Rubino: Informally. Yes.

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Gaithersburg: So how many hours a week do you actually work? Do you work out of your home or do you have a studio someplace else?

Tony Rubino: I work out of my home, and despite all my efforts otherwise I seem to be working all the time.

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Baltimore, MD: Do you do any charity work?

Tony Rubino: Yes I do.

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Eastern Market: What do you think about Lynn Johnston mixing new strips with old ones in "For Better or For Worse"?

Tony Rubino: Lynn is an Icon and brilliant. She is entitled to do whatever she wants with her strip. From a selfish perspective, though, If she were to fully retire, there would be a lot more room for other cartoonists.

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U Street: Do you think that stay at home dads (or moms) have TIME to read the comics?

Tony Rubino: I hope so. Apparently at least one has time to participate in chats about them.

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Keyport, NJ: How did you come up with the idea of Daddy's home....?

Tony Rubino: It was something I could relate to, and it seemed like there was a need for it on the comics pages.

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Patrick (Woodbridge, Va.): I'll vote for your comic to stay on permanently if we can get rid of the Family Circus. That comic makes me want to poke out my eyes with a shrimp fork.

Tony Rubino: Ehem... um. No comment

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Friendship Heights: What do you miss about DC, if anything?

Tony Rubino: Lot's of stuff. I have family and friends down there whom I miss. But also the Cherry blossom and bike paths.

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Baltimore MD: What type of charity work do you do? Details please

Tony Rubino: I don't want to bore everyone. Go to my website. www.rubinocreative.com.

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Georgetown: Who gives you more material or ideas for your cartoon, dads or moms or kids?

Tony Rubino: All three equally. Hey that rhymes.

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Herndon, Va.: Did you read comic books as a kid? Which ones?

Tony Rubino: Mostly I read comic strips.

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Washington DC: I didn't get at first that he is a stay at home dad--just that he'd been taking care of the family. (I know, I know, I'm clueless).

I think it's great that you've decided to do the strip with that as the theme!

Tony Rubino: Thank you!

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Del Ray, Alexandria: Hi, Tony. Was this your first submission to a syndicate? Or did you suffer through some rejections?

Tony Rubino: OMG. Don't get me STARTED!

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Capitol Hill: My husband is a stay-home dad. He and I were both excited about the premise of the strip, hoping it would help make a still-rare occupation for men a little more mainstream. Unfortunately, I find your strip relies heavily on cliches and stereotypes (Dad can't bake, fumbles logistical responsibilities, makes goofy meals) and rarely addresses the real dilemmas of stay-home dads. Which are a lot like the dilemmas of stay-home moms, with a little more isolation thrown in.

I had hoped you were stay-home dads who were a little too self-deprecating; I'm sorry to learn that you're not. Your strip makes the battle for acceptance a little harder for real stay-home dads out there, and that's not funny.

Tony Rubino: Really? I think it's pretty funny. Seriously though. It's an exaggeration of life. Not real life. But if you don't get it, ya don't get it. I poke fun at my main character for comedic purposes. Plus... Pete is a NEW stay home dad. He's still trying to get used to it. If you continue to read the strip from time to time, and I hope you do, I think you'll see the character has a lot of dimensions. You can't accurately judge a comic that is designed to appear ever single day, by a handful of sample.

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Comics survey: This message is mostly for Suzanne. The comics survey link doesn't seem to work. I've tried it on a couple of occasions, but the link goes nowhere.

Suzanne Tobin: AAARRRGGGHHHH! Thanks for letting me know. The person who created it isn't here today and I'm trying to reach someone else to get on this right away. Until I can get it fixed, please e-mail your comments to comics@washpost.com

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Washington, DC : With which character from your strip do you identify most closely? The dad, the mom, or the child? Why?

Tony Rubino: All the characters make up my personality. Uh oh... Does that make me Schizophrenic?

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Vienna: Did you have a "real" job while you were trying to get syndicated? What did you do?

Tony Rubino: I was and am an art director.

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Rockville, MD: Do you like any particular Manga?

Tony Rubino: I don't read a lot of Japanese comics. They are a lot different from what I do. But I admire them.

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Chevy Chase, MD: Tony,

I love your comic strip! It often reminds me of situations I've been in as a dad.

Are these real live situations you've been in, or if not, where do you get your inspiration?

Tony Rubino: Thank you. Many are real life. And there are many more to come. So, keep reading.

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Tony Rubino: Looks like we're out of time. HEY! congratulations to the Washington Post for six recent Pulitzer Prizes! Wow. I once came in second in a pie-eating contest so I know how you must feel.

Thanks everyone, for taking the time to talk to me. And thanks again to "The Post" and Suzanne. This was great!

Later,

Tony

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Suzanne Tobin: Thanks, Tony, for taking the time to visit with our readers. And for our readers, our next tryout is "Argyle Sweater," a panel, which will also run for four weeks. I'll do my best to find someone who can get the survey working again, but in the meantime, e-mail comics@washpost.com.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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