Sunday, July 24, 2016

Beware of...Joe Rubinstein--Rip-Off (Comic) Artist!

Attention comic and comic art fans:

It's with great sadness (and years of deliberation) that I post this.

During the summer of 2013, I commissioned two paintings from comics artist Joe Rubinstein.

During that time, I'd wait months before contacting him about my paid commissions, not wishing to bother him (as an artist myself, I'd hate that, but then, I get right to every assignment as it comes). No excuses.

After months and years of seeing Joe post of his many vacations and convention and workshop visits, I'd inquire, then he'd write to tell me he had still to get to my commissions.

Then he'd ask to be reminded, and, of course, I'd do so every few months.


I've looked into the issue, to find many others have been ripped off by this man. Just one example at this link here...

I'd PM him privately (only to hear more excuses), and even post publicly, inquiring in a friendly manner (which now makes Joe feel as if he's being "harassed")..He even forgot what it was I commissioned….

His latest e-mails today (after I said I'd have no choice but to go public if I didn't receive a refund..And this months after I kept moving that deadline further back and further back for him) were laced with profanity and threats, so it's up to me to protect myself and others (who may be contemplating a commission from him).

After I did go public (realizing it was the only way I was going to get any satisfaction), Joe finally paid me a refund. But it took my taking drastic measures to receive said refund, and it came accompanied by a stream of name-calling and profanity directed toward me.

I have the e-mails and correspondence to back all of this up, if needed.


BONUS! Many folks have asked me to disclose the actual timeline of my transaction with Mr. Rubinstein. Below is the exact correspondence, with all dates… 

 JUNE 17, 2013  I commission Mr. Rubinstein to create two paintings for me, based on artwork used in conjunction with 1960s Marvel comics characters, the Hulk and the Thing. 

 JUNE 18, 2013  Mr. Rubinstein is sent (via PayPal) his fee. 

 JANUARY 4, 2014  I send this note to Mr. Rubinstein: "Josef-Happy New Year! Hope you had a great holiday! How are my commissions coming? No rush! Take as much time as needed! All the best! Al" 

 AUGUST 10, 2014  I send this note to Mr. Rubinstein: "Joe-Hi! How are my commissions coming? Hope you are well! Al" 

 JANUARY 18, 2015  I send this note to Mr. Rubinstein: "Joe- How goes the commissions? No rush, just keep me posted! Happy new Year! Al" 

 JUNE 10, 2015  I send this note to Mr. Rubinstein: "Joe--Hi! How goes the commissions? If I don't hear from you within the next week, I'm afraid I'll have to go public about your lateness and lack of communication...I truly hate to do so, but…Please contact me in some way, at your earliest convenience…Best, Al" 

 JUNE 12, 2015  In repsonse to Mr. Rubinstein telling me how busy he's been, I send this in reply, "I know that feeling…Does it help that those last two I got from you are incredibly amazing? Everyone raves about them…I'll leave it up to you…Do what makes you feel comfortable, be it the refund or getting to them when you feel up to it…Thanks! Al"

 AUGUST 8, 2015  I send this note to Mr. Rubinstein: "Joe-How are my commissions coming along? I just finished 10 sketch cards, and a huge custom commission, all while working three jobs, handling all life has to throw at me, etc…No excuses for me. Ever. I feel bad if two weeks go by after receiving a commission and I don't get to it! You have till the end of the year. If no resolution occurs (my completed commissions or return of my full payment), I go public. Al" 

MARCH 28, 2016  After just now going public on a FaceBook page for comic art collectors and fans, I receive this note from Mr. Rubinstein: "Did you file a complaint about me somewhere?" My response: "Three of us have gone public…Please address immediately….Al"

MARCH 28, 2016  My note to Mr. Rubinstein: "On the FB page, two other folks (who are awaiting commissions or monies returned) spoke out….I joined the chorus…I have all the transcripts…I'd advise you to take action, or it will continue….Don't know what else to do, as I've exhausted all other avenues with you…Al" Mr. Rubinstein's reply (his misspellings intact): "No you haven't.I didn t think it was getting serious with you. "Complain to me not them.Submariner,right. "I ll see what I can do next week. "REMIND ME!!" 

 APRIL 23, 2016  My note to Mr. Rubinstein: "No. Not Sub-Mariner. Two other characters...But forget it. Return my money. I'm done. I've reached out to you as comments on posts, private e-mails, and in person. I don't conduct myself like this, as a long-standing artist. I won't put up with it from others I've paid money to. If you had true hardship, I'd be understanding (even that would be a stretch, considering the amount of time that has lapsed), but....I see you running around the world, taking vacations and classes, putting those things before paid work. Not right. Please know I'll continue to go public, for myself, and others waiting on you. Do not doubt it for a moment." 

APRIL 23, 2016  Mr. Rubinstein's note (misspellings intact) : "Jesus You you sound like I be insulted you I have f***ed up but it s not just you and you also don t know my hardships and how much money that needs to go out to others every month.You,re angry but don t be an enemy.BTW, YOU THINK I have any rep to salvage?They.d just re affirm what you said.The clients aren't t coming as is."

APRIL 23, 2016  My note to Mr. Rubinstein: "I'm in the same business. I know the deal. But I don't make excuses when I take money for work. The work gets done. I'm a professional. I'll check my records tomorrow as to the sum you owe me, and the time period in which you will have to pay me back. It's that simple." 

 APRIL 24, 2016 My note to Mr. Rubinstein: "The fee you charged was $XXXX (including postage) for two paintings. That was on June 2013. Please remit before the end of May. You can PayPal me (at XXXX), or send a money order. Please let me know your choice. Thank you. Al"

MAY 11, 2016 A note from Mr. Rubinstein (his misspellings): "No, Seriously what is it you want by posting? I told you that I'm paying you back so am I not supposed to do other commissions for other people or do you still want the commission? You made the choice if you'd like to switch it let me know."

MAY 11 2016  My note to Mr. Rubinstein: "I'll stop when I have money in hand."

MAY 11, 2016  A note from Mr. Rubinstein (misspellings intact): "Al I get your anger but you are making this ugly.I agreed to pay you back by a certain time which has t happened yet so please quite harassing me."

 MAY 17, 2016  My note to Mr. Rubinstein: "Let me see if I have this straight. I pay you monies agreed upon, over two years ago, for commissions you've already forgotten about. I threaten to 'out you' (my only recourse), to get my way overdue commissions, or my monies returned (after seeing endless posts of you on vacations and con visits and enjoying art workshops), and I'm the bad guy here? Joe, I am not a tough guy. Like most, I hate conformations and being a 'bad cop.' However, I refuse to lay down and turn belly-up in life. If I don't stand up and expose you, you take advantage of the next poor guy who comes along. And the next. That won't happen.If I don't have the money by May 27th, I will go completely public. Web pages. FB pages. Endless posts. It won't be just me, but the others you've ripped off will be joining me, as I'm in contact with them now...I hate to do it. But please know I will. I'm also a pro artist who take commissions. I take all assignments very seriously, even working thru sickness and hardships. Al"

 MAY 17, 2016  After supplying my PayPal address (again) for my refund from him, this note from Mr. Rubinstein (misspellings intact): "AL F**k OFF!!STOP WITH ALL THE LETTERS.It s not the 27th so leave me the f**k alone.till then.You'll get your money.Waste your time writing me if it does t happen. Just to be clear I am sending the money back because it's the right thing to do not for any other reason."

 MAY 17, 2016  In a note to Mr. Rubinstein: "No more excuses...Money before the end of the day, please. PayPal is: XXXXXX.If I do not have the money in hand, by end of today, I go public. I've waited long enough, then to get an immature profanity-laden e-mail..No." 

 MAY 17, 2016  A note from Mr. Rubinstein: "F**k you twice.NOW I will wait till the 27th tough guy."

MAY 17, 2016  After going public with my story, still no money in hand, I sent this note to Mr. Rubinstein: "I'm sorry to hear that. I really am."

MAY 19, 2016  After making sure he had my PayPal address (yet again), I received this note from Mr. Rubinstein (misspellings intact): "I failed to deliver your commission. You wanted your money back. We agreed to May 27 You kept threatening me with letters for God knows why I asked you to stop since it wasn't the 27 th I wrote to tell you I could pay you that day if I got your PayPal address in the hour before I left for my trip.You write back that I had better send it in the next hour. Or you were going public. "

MAY 19, 2016  A note from me: "I gave you so much time..Pushing back the three-year-old commission date and the payment date…You got irate and threatened me, using profanity and telling me 'now you won't get your money until...' No more. I don't play games. I'm not the bad guy here.Yep! I told you many times I'd go public, with no other recourse open to me… And I did.Don't care if you had a trip, Not my worry. You had three years to make this right. No more excuses."

MAY 19, 2016  A note from Mr. Rubinstein You go against the agreement and get unpleasant so I tell you to f**k yourself ( you've never said those words?) so I go back to the previous agreement ."

MAY 19, 2016  A note from me: "No. I don't use those words in my professional life. I'm an adult."

MAY 19, 2016  In a note from Mr. Rubinstein, he now engages in insults: "You should have asked for the money back in art lessons."

MAY 19, 2016  A note to Mr. Rubinstein: "If I don't stick up for myself (and others you may rip off), who will? I knew you had no intention of getting me my commissions or money. Be serious. Stop making excuses.Oh! Now you're attacking my abilities? Wow."

MAY 19, 2016  A note from Mr. Rubinstein (misspellings intact): "I did you a favor just to be nice and I did a good commission for you for really very little money. I made an agreement, you went psycho and no I lay out the facts is there one part of it that is in correct?"

MAY 19, 2016  A note from me to Mr. Rubinstein: "Good luck, Joe. I will continue to spread the word. Cheers!"

Please note the generous amount of time I gave Mr. Rubinstein, both in completing my commissions, and in answering my e-mails, and even when asking for a refund.

After going public, feeling I had no other choice, Mr. Rubinstein finally refunded my money, still calling me names, insulting my career and talents further, and painting himself as the "good guy" in this transaction, since he did eventually pay (but under his deadline and only after he saw I was very serious about this matter).

In the weeks since this post has gone public, more and more defrauded fans of Rubinstein are coming out of the woodwork, approaching me which their own tales of dissatisfaction with Mr. Rubinstein…

Again, avoid him at all costs.

BONUS BONUS! Here is a recent post comment I received from another not-so-happy customer of Joe's:

 "Back in the mid 1980s I volunteered to work a comic con in Rome, Ga. It was sponsored by my local comic shop and the comic club I was a member of. For the weekend I was assigned to Joe Rubenstein as his assistant for the con. It basically entailed getting him stuff such as food and drink, directing him to where he needed to be at the con (panel, artist alley, signing table, etc.), keeping him on schedule and being at his beck and call during con hours. 

He was a complete dick the whole time. His attitude was: "I'm better than John Byrne and George Perez! Why am I not more popular and better respected? I'm above all these cretins."

It was a small convention, but it was the first for the area and ambitious on the part of the store and club. Besides Rubinstein, Bob McLeod, Dave Sims and Bob Layton were at the show. They were great. Very interactive with fans, very personable and seemed glad to be there.

Joe seemed like he had better things to do and was very unfriendly with just about everyone. It was an obvious attitude that he displayed to all. He would refuse to talk to people, occasionally sign books and only once agreed to do a sketch at the con. He said he was busy.

He spent most of his time inking pages that were due at Marvel the next week. The other guests did not work on their corporate pages, they signed books, talked to people and drew or inked stuff people asked them to do. That was the only "work" that they performed. I was with Joe the entire convention so I saw all of this upfront and first hand. 

At the end of the first day, I asked Joe if he would sign some books for me and he gruffly said that he would do it the next day. During slow periods throughout that day, I had gotten other guests to sign stuff for me and they were happy to do it. 

Since we were all together at the same group of tables, I was able to chat with the other guests and they were all super cool. I got to hear about the offices at Marvel and how things worked in the comic biz. Joe would usually make negative comments. 

So this went on for that Saturday and then into Sunday. Around 4pm on Sunday, I said to Joe that since everything would be over in an hour at 5pm and they would be heading to the airport to fly back to NYC, could he sign my books now. Let me interject for a moment and say that I kept expecting all day for Joe to say "Hey, let me sign those books now" but that was never offered up. The other volunteers had all gotten stuff signed and quick sketches from their respective guest that they assisted. 

So, back to 4pm...I ask if Joe will sign my books and he says to me that he doesn't feel like it. I said "really? you can't even sign a few of them?" He says "I just said I can't sign your damn books! Don't ask again." 

So for the next hour I stood around in awkward silence while he started to pack up his stuff and get ready to leave. I didn't say anything else to him and he never once said another word to me. 

At 5pm the organizer came and got the guests and took them to the airport for their flight. When everyone was leaving all the guests thanked their weekend assistants, shook hands and said goodbyes....except for Joe. He just got his stuff and walked out to the car. 

I am not surprised to hear that he is still an a**hole." Jerry Brand

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

X-Con 2016! Costumes! Characters! Cut-Ups! Captain America Computer-Created Carvings!? Plus-Batman!

Dig these panic-packed pics from the fabulous X-CON, a comics and pop culture convention held this year (May 20-22, 2016) in magnificent Myrtle Beach, South Carolina! Click images below to enlarge!

Above: Once again, I'm back in the Captain America cosplay outfit, promoting
the local charity group, Carolina Action Figures! Here I am with another delightfully
decked-out Cap, and an equally star-spangled Wonder Woman!

Above: Have you ever seen a cuter Harley and--uhm--Joker/Spidey/Venom?

Above: "So you say she's called 'Wonder Woman?' And she
has the nerve to wear my colors?!"

Above: Who knows how to accessorize? "The Shadow knows…."

Above two images: Another Wonder Woman (what is this--the
4th of July?!), and her very creative table of home-made wonder-wares!

Above two images: It's CIVIL WAR all over again! Captain America (me) is
locked in mortal combat with Iron Man (Rocky Melvin), as captured by the
photographing folks at Indulge Images!

Above two images: I got scanned! Thats right, the big new thing at shows
are on-site 3-D scanning services that can create your very own statue or
bust! Why not?

Above: The scanned images are sent to me for my approval! I wanted the best
of both worlds: a statue of me and my carefully-constructed cosplay costume!
All done by the talented team at 3-D Transformations!

Above three images: It's here! The very well done (and kinda
eerie) statue of yours truly has arrived!

Above four images: The likeness is very sharp, and uncanny!
They even captured my bald spot! How dare they?!?

Above: Charity cosplayer (and all-around great guy) John Tompkins is
struck silent by the sheer awe and majesty of the "Al-statue!" Can
ya blame him?

Above: ALvengers assemble! Taking my place among other legends of our day!
Hey, it was either this, or next to the "Precious Moments" hummels...

Above: Back to the convention! Day two, and it's time to break out
the "Batman '66" rompers! Who needs fake muscles and body
armor? Bat-wimps! That's who!

Above: I thought I was a material-minded fan of Silver Age Marvel Comics? 

Above: The local news team came out to cover the captivatin' con, and, somehow, I
ended up aligned with coverage for the on-site religious services offered! Holy
communion wafer, Batman!

Above: When's the last time you saw a "Spy vs. Spy" cosplay?

Above three images: Trying to perfect the 
famed "Adam West sly smile" look. And failing. 

Above three images: Recreating the famed "Batman meets
Scooby Doo" epic Saturday morning cartoon event! Sorta.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

SPIDER-MAN #151! 1975 Original Comic Art! Mead (and Marvel) School Supply Madness!

Take a glance below to devour the full grandeur of one of the Bronze Age's greatest comic covers! That's right! This is the original 1975 art to the captivating cover of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #151, by the unsurpassed John Romita, Sr.! Just look at that sense of drama, the feeling of danger, the sheer artistry on display! Click below to enlarge!

Above, left: The awesome original art for the cover to (right) 1975's 
SPIDER-MAN #151! I was an avid collector of this title back then (leaving for 
good around issue #202 or so), and this was my great "lost" issue! I somehow 
missed this one (having been collecting the title for three years), and only 
much later was to grab it as a back issue! A real shame, for the insides 
feature a rare (for even then) art job by regular Ross Andru, with 
stellar inks by John Romita! A real treat!

BONUS! Look below to see how the insides of the above comic were used by the fine folks at Mead, in creating their 1976 Marvel-mad school supplies!

Above three images: A nifty 1976 school folder that 
liberally uses (on the inside and back) images from 
within SPIDER-MAN #151, spotlighting Spidey fighting 
the sinister Shocker!

Above: The much-remembered 1976 "trapper keeper" from Mead! 
This huge monster folder not only sported all six Marvel covers used with
the other superhero school supplies, but also interior poses and panels, including 
those from (you guessed it) SPIDER-MAN #151! I had this sturdy '76 school staple,  
and was happy to have something from that much-missed Spidey issue then!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sensational Superhero Shirt! BATMAN #190! The Penguin Strikes!

Yet another new shirt featuring classic Silver Age comics graphics! This time, the colossal cover to BATMAN #190 has been re-rendered in freaky fluorescent colors onto a jet-black tee! The original 1967 cover was illustrated by Carmine Infantino, and spotlights Batman and Robin being bested by the belligerent bird-man himself, the Penguin! See more such spectacular shirts here! Click image to enlarge!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tutti Acclamano Capitan America! Rare 1974 Italian Comic Book! Marvel Madness!

Take a gander at an oddball time I picked up at a recent show! It's an awesome overseas Marvel comic, reprinting US comics material from 1974! I had the original USA version, and was captivated then (as now) by the gripping Gil Kane cover art! Click below to enlarge both versions of that memorable comic mag!

Above, left: The 1974 Italian version of the (right) US issue of
CAPTAIN AMERICA #170! Art by Gil Kane with John Romita, Sr.!
Click here to see my own interpretation of this memorable
cover scene! I told you I was impressed by it!

BONUS! Click below to enlarge this interior sample (with art by Sal Buscema and Vince Colletta) from the above Italy-imported issue!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sensational Superhero Shirt! Spider-Man! The Madness of Mysterio!

Back again with another terrific tee, featuring classic graphics! This time, it's a shirt that spotlights the colossal cover to 1968's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #66! This famed cover featured art by jazzy John Romita, Sr., and even sports a Silver Age super-foe, Mysterio (say that three times fast)! Click below to enlarge! 

See more Silver Age Spidey shirts here!

Monday, March 28, 2016

ZOWIE! Hot Wheels Batmobile Custom Packages! Batman! Robin! Riddler! Adam West!

One of the major recent events for Bat-fans has been the detangling of the many rights issues pertaining to the 1966 BATMAN TV series! The first salvo that signified that the years-long legal thicket was being cleared, was the release of all new die-cast "TV Batmobile" toy cars, from the collector-friendly Hot Wheels folks! Originally designed for the ABC-TV show by car customizer George Barris, this iconic vehicle was eagerly snatched up by fans far and wide, then and now! But, the recently-released beautiful Batmobile came delivered in some very un-beautiful packaging! The remedy? My own custom packages on which to display the Dynamic Duo's die-cast deity! Feast your eyes on my own eye-popping presentations below! Click images to enlarge!

Above: An example of the deadly-dull packaging in which
the long-awaited Batmobiles were presented!

Above: I used the captivating cover to 1968's BATMAN #200 (by Neal Adams) as the
basis for this one pop-art package! Add a re-closeable "clamshell," and a dynamic
 display is ready!

Above: I always loved this image of actor Adam West as the Caped Crusader, and
here it is (along with added logos and graphics) used as a custom card!

Above: No other 60s BATMAN cover screams "Silver Age" quite like this
one, and it even features a main Bat-foe, the Riddler! Using elements
from the cover of BATMAN #179 (from 1966), this great
Gil Kane/Murphy Anderson art works like gangbusters!

Above: Another great Adam West BATMAN pose, this time I used an "alternate image" from
the famed 1966 TV GUIDE cover photo shoot from the show! Here is another use of
this wonderful action shot!

Above: The first image I ever saw from the BATMAN TV show (even before ever 
viewing the actual program) was the wonderful View-Master set of 3-D reels. 
The above custom Hot Wheels package uses much of the same memorable 
graphics, but with added logos and new formatting!

Above: Using the cover to a sensational '67 coloring book, here is a fabulous
custom Batmobile display! Sure, that's actually the Batboat the Dynamic Duo
is piloting there, but...See this incredible image re-purposed here, too!

BAT-BONUS! Click below to glare at the colorful custom Batmobile collection on display!

Get a closer look at some of those custom action figures here!

BONUS BAT-BONUS! Click here to see the ultimate custom Hot Wheels collectible!