Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rubin Pingk: Modern Superman Illustrator

Finishing a 32 page picture book dummy in 30 days is no small task in the best of situations. In October 2013 Rubin Pingk went above and beyond and created a 52 page book in 20 days (later to be cut to 40 pages). Not only that but he landed an Agent and was published by Simon and Schuster (not a small company). Against all odds Rubin became a Superman to complete his picture book. You too can be just like Rubin (sans the government shutdown and fear of never working again)!

You can find out where you can Pre-Order Rubin's book here:

How to Finish a Book in 20 days 
(By Drawing Daily for Thousands of Days Prior). 

Rubin Pingk

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013. My birthday, and the first time in 12 years I didn’t have a full-time job. Like responsible adults, Congress had shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act, leaving federal employees home and out of work.

As a federal employee, I spent my birthday furloughed from my job without pay*. Nobody knew then how long the furlough would last. A day? A few days?

Three weeks.

Let’s rewind.

Since January 1st, 2010, I had kept a daily drawing habit (a habit I still keep, 2,068 days and counting). I had collected hundreds and hundreds of sketches, many of them ideas for picture books, graphic novels, and web comics.

Back to 2013.

Not knowing how long I would be out of work, I decided to turn those sketches into a book. With 9 hours of newfound free time every day, I first needed to find a project I could finish in a short amount of time.

Like Goldilocks (minus the locks), I sifted through my ideas. Too long. Too short. No good. Not in the mood.

Finally, I found a sketch showing an army of scratchily drawn ninjas chasing Santa Claus. In my mind, the design would be simple: Brushed inky lines with 4 flat colors. Eureka! I had found the book I would finish.

I’ll be honest. At that time, I didn’t know what a picture book dummy was. My sights were set on finishing a book. A whole book. Also, I didn’t know that most picture books were 32 pages or less. Armed with naiveté and too much time, I set to work.

After 20 days of toil and effort** (and a growing concern that I may never work again), I had a fully illustrated 54 page story. Somewhere in New York, my future agent Carrie Hannigan was sharpening a hatchet.

Present day.

That 54 page monster would eventually become my 40 page picture book, Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas.

After facing rejection, some small acclaim, landing an agent, and finally selling the book to Simon & Schuster (the author’s equivalent of “yadda yadda yadda”), I now have a book about to hit shelves September 22nd, 2015.

And it all started 2,068 days ago.

Did I finish a book in 20 days? No. It started 1,389 days prior with the decision to draw and write every day. By drawing every day, it was not a herculean effort to start a new project. I simply slotted my goal into the drawing time I was going to spend anyway. When Congress put me out of a job for three weeks, I had the foundation (sketches, notes) to finish a book faster than I normally would have.

My advice for finishing a picture book dummy (or anything, really): Daily effort over time. And until you sell the thing, keep it simple. Be reckless. Have fun. Good luck!

See you on the shelves.

* Congress eventually gave federal employees back pay
** While I finished my first version of Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas in 20 days or so, Simon & Schuster (the lovely Kristin Ostby and Chloe Foglia) spent months and months refining the product with me.

Rubin Pingk is an author/illustrator living the small town life in Clinton, UT with his wife, two rowdy boys, and a scheming cat (RIP Humphrey Bogart, the formerly peckish pug). Rubin’s first book, Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas, drops September 22nd, 2015 online and in bookstores everywhere and is currently available for pre-order.

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Start working on larger drawings today. Drawings can still be loose, but should be much bigger than your thumbnails. I like to do a two-page spread on copy paper. You might want to go bigger or smaller, but be sure to get started now!   


  1. Thanks for the great inspiring story - and congrats on the agent and soon to be published book!

  2. Ah, ah, ah. This is so adorable! Thanks for sharing.

  3. What an awesome success story, proving once again that hard work pays off. I can't wait to read Rubin's debut book (ninjas and Santa? How brilliant is that?) and wish him much success for future books!

  4. This is such a great post Rubin! I have so many untapped ideas in my art drawer (although I don't draw as much as you do). It's good to hear that you succeeded to finish your story despite the fear of not having a job. I hope you'll forgive me for adding the video. It was just the best thing ever, so I had to do it! Such a great book promo video.

  5. That's a great success story! Congrats Rubin!!

  6. What a great story, and a testament to hard and consistent work! Congratulations!

  7. Wonderful success story! I can see that all of your drawing work helped prepare you! Congratulations!

  8. I love your Ninja characters. Santa in the mix is just too cool! Thanks for posting this.