Interview: Bobby Rubio of Alcatraz High

Wednesday, September 1, 2004, 11:20 —by Joe Crawford
This item was posted in Interviews, San Diego Entertainment category and has 1 Comment so far.

In our latest San Diego Blog Interview, we talk with Bobby Rubio, cartoonist and animator. We came across his work at this years Comic Con, which we covered (search for comic con). Bobby comes from San Diego, and went to Morse High School. He counts San Diego as a big influence on his work. The bio from his websites says:

Bobby Rubio was born and raised in San Diego, California, and has been drawing since he was a child. While attending Morse High School, Bobby won a cartoon contest with the San Diego Union newspaper (now known as the Union-Tribune.) For college, Bobby attended the California Institute of the Arts, which is an art school founded by Walt Disney. While in college, he freelanced as a comic book artist for Dark Horse Comics. After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Bobby entered an internship with Jim Lee at Homage Studios (Image Comics.) After completing his internship, he entered an animation internship with Walt Disney Feature Animation in Orlando, Florida. After completing that program, he was hired on to work for Walt Disney Feature Animation in Burbank, California, where, in the course of 9 years, he completed several films as a traditional animator and as a storyboard artist. Bobby is currently working at Nickelodeon Studios as an assistant director on a new TV show scheduled to debut November 2004.

San Diego Blog: You work in Comics and in Animation. Which do you prefer, and why?

Bobby Rubio: I have to tell you that I love both mediums for different reasons. When I was growing up, I collected comic books. I was immediately attracted to the bright colors and the beautiful rendering or superheroes. I picked up the usual “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” comics, but my favorite back then was the “New Teen Titans”, which was drawn by my favorite artist, George Perez. One of the main reasons I love comics is because it is hand drawn by usually one individual and his/her style is the reason you buy it. (Of course, I buy books with brilliant writers and they are also a factor). But being a young artist, I was always attracted to the art first.

For college, I went to California Institute of the Arts. And it was in college where I began to love the medium of animation. The excitement of animation is that you create a character and you bring him/her to life on screen. The characters are moving about and showing emotions. In the hands of the best animators, there are truly real awesome scenes that are just as engaging (if not better) than real live-action actors. And animators have to draw that character moving around in perspective, drawn the character on-model, and create some attitude within that scene.

SDB: Did you always know you wanted to go into a creative field?

BR: Yes, I always knew that I wanted to go into a creative field. Now my parents, on the other hand, had other ideas. They always pushed me to be a doctor or lawyer. By my interests were never in that direction. And as the years went by, I won some art awards here and there; I guess they knew I was to go become an artist. My mom, especially, encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

SDB: How did you come up with the idea of High-School-as-Prison? Did it have anything to do with your own experiences in high school?

BR: I came up with the name first. My girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife) briefly went to a school near La Jolla (I won’t name the school) and I went to Morse High School. One day, I visited her at her school, and I noticed that the buildings had no windows (they were actually tinted, little slit windows) and it was just wall to wall bricks and high fences. So I joked, “Ha! Ha! You go to Alcatraz High!” And the name just clicked! Ideas just immediately came and since I was in high school at the time, there were instances when I felt like I was “doing time” and I couldn’t wait until school was over.

SDB: What’s the hardest thing about working in comics? What’s the easiest?

BR: The hardest thing about comics is, at least for me, the finances. Since I’m self-publishing a full color comic book, it gets pretty expensive. So I would recommend it, if you don’t love the medium and you don’t have a day job. But on the creative end, the hardest part for me is the writing: coming up with characters and situations for them to go through. The easiest is the drawing because I’m having fun at that point. I really enjoy designing and drawing my own characters.

SDB: What advice do you have for people looking to get into comics? What advice do you have for people looking to get into animation? How would
that advice be different?

BR: My advice for people getting into comics and animation is to keep drawing. Have a sketchbook and draw constantly. Draw animals in the zoo, characters from TV, facial expressions, hands… DRAW! DRAW! DRAW! And eventually, like everything else, you’ll improve. And when you get some decent pieces, seek advice from you teachers or professionals and they will lead you in the right direction. And if they feel you are ready, contact the studios or comic companies, follow their submission guidelines. For comics, I believe you need 5 pages of comic book pages. And for animation, you usually have to have a portfolio tailored to the position you are trying to get. So if you want to be a background artist, you put backgrounds in your portfolio. If you want to be an animator, you put samples of drawings in motion, quick gesture sketches, facial expressions, life drawing and your own artwork as well.

SDB: I’m interested in anything specifically “San Diego” that shaped your professional life — is there anything about San Diego that helped you, hurt you, inspired you in pursuing your goals?

BR: I was born and raised in San Diego and I love my hometown. It’s reflected in my comic book. For example, the school colors are red and black, after San Diego State University. The school is multi-racial. In fact, one of the lead characters is Mexican. Growing up in San Diego, you come across many different cultures and ethnicities. The book is fun but also has a serious side. That’s how I feel about San Diego. It’s not quite as busy as Los Angeles (which is fantastic) and it has a beautiful beaches, 15 minutes away from just about any part of San Diego. So like the book, San Diego is fun, but it also has its serious side.

My professional life has been shaped by many individuals, from my family, friends, teachers, mentors and counselors. And since they all are in San Diego, I’d say San Diego is a huge influence in both my professional and personal life.

San Diego Blog thanks Bobby for taking part in this interview!

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One Response to “Interview: Bobby Rubio of Alcatraz High”

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