Ruben Bolling

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Ruben Bolling
Ruben Bolling.JPG
Ruben Bolling speaks at a Borders Books in Washington DC, July 7, 2007.
BornKenneth Fisher
1963 (age 59–60)
New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Pseudonym(s)Ruben Bolling
Notable works
Tom the Dancing Bug
Super-Fun-Pak Comix
AwardsAssociation of Alternative Newsweeklies, Best Cartoon, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008,[2] 2009[3]
Society of Professional Journalists Award for Editorial Cartooning, 2010[4]
Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning, 2017[5]
National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award, 2017[6]
Robert F. Kennedy Book & Journalism Awards, Best Cartoon, 2018[7]
Berryman Award for Editorial Cartoons from National Press Foundation, 2021[8]
Ruben Bolling on Twitter Edit this at Wikidata

Ruben Bolling (born c. 1963[9] in New Jersey) is a pseudonym for Ken Fisher, an American cartoonist, the author of Tom the Dancing Bug and Super-Fun-Pak Comix. His work started out apolitical, instead featuring absurdist humor, parodying comic strip conventions, or critiquing celebrity culture. He came to increasingly satirize conservative politics after the September 11 attacks and Iraq war in the early 2000s.[1] This trend strengthened with the Donald Trump presidency and right-wing populism from 2017-2020,[10] his critiques of which earned him several cartooning awards.[5][6]


Fisher, who has no formal art training, read many comics when he was a child (his biggest influence being Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury),[9] and sometimes features their styles in his work. However, he didn't aspire to be a full-time cartoonist; instead he studied economics as an undergraduate at Tufts University and later attended Harvard Law School (graduating in 1987).[9] It was at Harvard in the mid-1980s that Fisher came up with the idea for "Tom the Dancing Bug" and his pseudonym, Ruben Bolling (which is a melding of the names of two favorite old-time baseball players, Ruben Amaro and Frank Bolling).[1] Tom the Dancing Bug originally ran in the Harvard Law School Record.[9]

After graduation, Fisher practiced law for several years before resigning to pursue comics full-time. When that didn't work out, comic writing became a side interest and Fisher became a full-time employee at a financial services company.[1][9] Tom the Dancing Bug was picked up for weekly syndication in 1997 by Universal Press Syndicate.[9]

Fisher was working on building a full-time comics career, driven in part by a project, thus far never realized, with New Line Cinema to produce a movie about his character Harvey Richards, Esq., a "Lawyer for Children."[11]

At its peak, Tom the Dancing Bug was syndicated in print in over 100 newspapers. [12] In 2012, Fisher launched a subscription service, the Inner Hive,[13] which he credits with keeping the comic going amid declines in print newspapers.[10]

A Super Fun-Pak Comix installment from 2014, entitled The Comic Strip That Has A Finale Every Day, parodied farewell installments from long-running comic strips. This then became an ongoing feature on the site under the pseudonym John "Scully" Scully, releasing the same comic every day.

In 2015, Fisher published the first in a series of children's books, The EMU Club Adventures.[14]


Fisher is a five-time winner of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award for Best Cartoon, for 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008,[2] and 2009.[3] In 2010, he received the Society of Professional Journalists award for Editorial Cartooning for a non-daily publication.[4]

Fisher won numerous awards for his satirical criticism of the Donald Trump presidency. He was the winner of the 2017 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning[5] based on a selection of 15 Trump-themed Tom the Dancing Bug cartoons. In 2017, he won a 2017 Silver Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society[6] for "Donald and John," a series in the style of Calvin and Hobbes that cast Donald Trump as a childish Calvin-like figure and Trump alter-ego John Barron as Trump's "imaginary publicist" in place of Hobbes.

He was awarded a prize for best cartoon in the 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Book & Journalism Awards[7] and in 2019 and 2021 he was a finalist in the Editorial Cartooning category for the Pulitzer Prize.[15][16] His "mordant wit, superior artwork and inventive delivery" won him the 2021 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartoons from the National Press Foundation.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Fisher is married to a lawyer; they have three children.[9]


  • 1992: Tom the Dancing Bug ISBN 0-06-096949-0
  • 1997: All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From My Golf-Playing Cats ISBN 1-56163-183-3
  • 2004: Thrilling Tom the Dancing Bug Stories (oversized treasury) (Andrews McMeel) ISBN 0-7407-4737-1
  • 2015: Alien Invasion in My Backyard: An EMU Club Adventure (Andrews McMeel) ISBN 978-1449457099
  • 2015: Ghostly Thief of Time: An EMU Club Adventure (Andrews McMeel) ISBN 978-1449457105
  • 2020: Tom the Dancing Bug Presents: Into the Trumpverse (Clover Press) ISBN 1-9510-3808-8
  • 2020: The Super-Fun-Pak Comix Reader (Clover Press) ISBN 978-1-951038-30-4
  • 2021: Tom the Dancing Bug Awakens (Clover Press) ISBN 9781951038359
  • 2022: Tom the Dancing Bug: Without The Bad Ones (Clover Press) ISBN 9781951038403
  • 2022: Tom the Dancing Bug: Eat the Poor (Clover Press) ISBN 9781951038427


  1. ^ a b c d Bolonik, Kera (Spring 2016). "The World According to Ruben Bolling". Tufts Magazine. Retrieved 2021-03-20..
  2. ^ a b Gardner, Alan. Ruben Bolling Wins Best Cartoon Award from AAN. The Daily Cartoonist (June 10, 2008)
  3. ^ a b Xerexes, Xavier. Onward Into the Webcomics Breach. Comix Talk (July 1, 2009)
  4. ^ a b Announcing winners of the 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for journalism (May 10, 2011)
  5. ^ a b c 2017 Prize Winner. Herb Block Foundation (March 19, 2021)
  6. ^ a b c 71st Annual Reuben Award Winners Announced! National Cartoonists Society (May 27, 2017)
  7. ^ a b FULL LIST: 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Book & Journalism Award Winners (May 3, 2018)
  8. ^ a b Ruben Bolling wins 2021 Berryman Cartoonist Award (November 1, 2021)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Elder, Robert K. (May 4, 2004). "Being Ruben Bolling: An alter ego and a day job let Ken Fisher draw comics precisely as he pleases". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  10. ^ a b Roth, Stephen (November 26, 2018). "Politics Through the Compound Eyes of 'Tom the Dancing Bug". GoComics. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  11. ^ "Bolling interview". Deconstructing Comics (Podcast). No. #228. April 19, 2010. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  12. ^ @RubenBolling (21 March 2021). "This is sadly true. Tom the Dancing Bug used to be in well over 100 print newspapers, and for a while in the NYT ab…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Bolling, Reuben (May 9, 2012). "Come on and join Tom the Dancing Bug's INNER HIVE!". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  14. ^ Bolling, Reuben (April 7, 2015). "Book: Alien Invasion In My Backyard". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  15. ^ "Finalist in editorial cartooning: Ken Fisher, drawing as Ruben Bolling, freelancer". Pulitzer Prize. 2019. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  16. ^ "Finalist: Ken Fisher, drawing as Ruben Bolling, for "Tom the Dancing Bug," Andrews McMeel Syndicate". Pulitzer Prize. 2021. Retrieved 2021-06-13.

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