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Joe Kubert Passes Away

August 17, 2012

Joe Kubert, whose 70-year career in comics included roles as artist, inker, writer, editor, self-publisher, and teacher, has passed away at age 85 after a brief illness.

"I don’t know any other words that will as quickly put a fellow artist into that zone that exists between pure fandom and the cold sweats as the mention of writer, artist, editor, and educator Joe Kubert. In an industry predisposed to overuse words like ‘legend,’ Mr. Kubert truly is one. He started working in the business at age 11 in 1938 and to this day is still looking for ways to push himself and the medium for all its worth," Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion writer-artist Billy Tucci wrote in his induction of Kubert into The Overstreet Hall of Fame.

"While he is no doubt best known for his work on Sgt. Rock, he also poured his efforts into DC’s other iconic war titles such as G.I. Combat, Our Army at War (and characters like Enemy Ace and the Haunted Tank), his art also graced titles like Hawkman and Tarzan, all of which would be enough for any artist. Not him. He founded the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in 1976, wrote and illustrated Tor, Abraham Stone, Fax from Sarajevo, Yossel: April 19, 1943, and still has more on the way. To put it bluntly, he is my biggest influence and my comic book hero!" he said.

"Our utmost respect for this great man and his family. When I first moved from Texas to New York in the mid '90s, Joe was the first man to give me work. We are proud to say, he has been our dear friend, mentor, and confidant ever since. One of the greatest talents, and one of the greatest men, to have ever graced the comic-book field. He is and will ever be, sorely missed,” said Vanguard’s J. David Spurlock.

Here is an excellent obit...

RIP JOE KUBERT: From ‘Sgt. Rock’ to the Kubert School, creator-teacher leaves a legendary legacy [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna

IN A JERSEY CITY HOTEL CONFERENCE ROOM, I finally entered Joe Kubert’s educational foxhole. One of the most renowned teachers in comics was at the table before scores of us, giving a talk and drawing with a marksman’s precision. Many students have attended the renowned Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art (known worldwide as simply the Kubert School) in this very state, but here we were, many of us veteran artists, lucky enough to listen to insights from professor first-class Joe Kubert. Because when he spoke and drew, it was always a master class.

The talk took place at the National Cartoonist Society’s 2010 Reuben Awards, where later that weekend, Kubert received the group’s Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award at a black-tie ceremony, where he was hailed from the stage as the “kindest man” in cartooning (as if to exhibit his kindness, his acceptance speech was a mere two words: “Thank you”). Also gracing the gala were fellow cartoon greats Jerry Robinson and Bill Gallo.

Since that May night, Robinson and Gallo have passed, and now we have lost Kubert. Joe Kubert died over the weekend at age 85, confirmed his son David Kubert.

The legends are leaving us too swiftly.

Kubert was one of the few left whose careers stretched back to nearly the dawn of the comic book. Born in Poland in 1926 shortly before his family immigrated to the United States, the Brooklyn-raised Kubert reportedly drew on the shop paper of his father, a kosher butcher. Young Joe would gain entrée into professional comics by somewhere between age 10 and 13 (depending on which of his own recollections you believe).

Kubert spent most of his career working for DC Comics, developing his kinetic line and exquisitely weighted cross-hatchings that defined his signature style. The artist-writer became most associated with Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace and Hawkman and the prehistoric Tor — on his way to becoming a master of action and the recognized leader in “war comics.” He also had a stellar run on Tarzan. As Mark Evanier writes: “Joe had a way of imbuing the work with a kind of four-color testosterone. No one did male better.”

Kubert also created such acclaimed graphic novels as “Fax From Sarajevo” and “Yossel: April 19, 1943” – the latter an imagining of what his family’s life might have been like if his kin hadn’t left Europe before World War II.

Kubert was DC’s director of publications from 1967 to 1976. Just as that role ended, he and his wife, Muriel, opened the influential Kubert School in Dover, N.J., cementing Kubert’s status within comics. Two of his best-known and most talented students remain two of his sons, Adam and Andy.

Joe and Andy Kubert, in fact, had recently finished a joint effort on the Nite Owl installment for DC’s “Before Watchmen” series.

Joe Kubert was renowned for his passion for drawing. For his devotion to teaching. And for his penchant for knuckle-crunching handshakes.

After Mr. Kubert finished that Jersey City talk in 2010, I felt energized by his drawing. Invigorated by his teaching. And only regretted that I didn’t insist upon a knuckle-crunching handshake.

Joe Kubert’s artful hand – and mind – will be greatly missed.

In the immediate wake of Mr. Kubert’s death, Comic Riffs asked some of the top talent in comics for their thoughts and remembrances:

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