Don Rubin – RIP

Visual puzzle and game creator Don Rubin has passed away.

Donald Joel (Don) Rubin
April 6, 1945 – April 8, 2022

From the obituary:

Donald Joel Rubin, one of the world’s premier creators of games and puzzles, died of cancer at his home in Santa Rosa, California on April 8, 2022.

In the late 1980’s his creation “The Real Puzzle” was first published in the Boston Phoenix, then The Real Paper, prior to its syndication in over 300 national and international newspapers and magazines through United Features Syndicate. The Real Puzzle generated so much fan mail that the U.S. Post Office gave Don his own zip code. Don became a mini expert in each field that was the focus of the weekly puzzle and attributed his creativity to a “poor diet and lack of sleep”.


The Real Puzzle was not a comic strip or comic panel,
but it was a very visual syndicated feature.

Don partnered with artists to assist in creating optics for the puzzles,
below regular illustrator Roger Jones helps create the challenge.


In 1980 Editor & Publisher noted the feature’s move to national syndication:


A few years ago William Harris remembered Don’s puzzles.

Sometime in the later stages of the 70s—I’m thinking it was fall of 78—a new feature began appearing in the Cincinnati Enquirer Sunday Magazine. It was called simply The Puzzle (though I believe the actual name was The Real Puzzle); the author was Don Rubin. The challenges varied quite a bit in nature, but there were a number of recurring themes: spatial reasoning, word play, ciphers, logic, and pop culture (celebrities, TV shows, brand names) were among the most common.

Don Rubin’s own website says:



A puzzle from 1995:


click to supersize answers

One thought on “Don Rubin – RIP

  1. DD, Don Rubin was a friend of mine, and I wrote my own memorial to him on my blog. (Don’s wife and I both used the same photo in our obits; I lifted and cropped it from Peter Maresca and Caroline lifted and cropped it from me.)

    Don was a terrific man–definitely a lateral thinker, probably a genius. Few people’s opinions meant more to me. Thanks for remembering him here.

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