By now you’ve surely heard the sad news of Joe Kubert’s passing at age eighty-five. To say Joe was a giant of the industry still does not capture the magnitude of his influence on the comics industry throughout almost its entire existence.
Joe Kubert was the original teenage wunderkind, inking the work of artists such as Mort Meskin and making an early mark as penciller of features such as the Golden Age Hawkman. Perhaps his most remarkable achievement was the combination of quality and longevity he enjoyed—last year he released his graphic novel Dong Xoai: Vietnam 1965, and in he was providing inks over one of his sons pencils on another DC project while also fronting the new six-issue anthology series, Joe Kubert Presents.
The “tree of talent” Joe unleashed on the comics industry is also unequalled by anyone else—not just his sons, Andy and Adam, but the many, many, many artists who entered the business after attending the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Even those who didn’t complete The Kubert School curriculum—like my friend, Marvel artist Lee Weeks—or those who attended the school but chose not to pursue a career in comics (like Lee’s and my good friend, Mike Dudley) had their sensibilities shaped an influenced by what they learned at The Kubert School.
I spoke with Joe by phone a handful of times, most recently in 2011, after speaking with him face-to-face in April of that year at the Boston Comic Convention (and six months before that, at the New York Comic-Con). He was always considerate, professional and personable, willing to share his time and insights. We’ll share more of those insights with you in our upcoming Genius, Illustrated and the next few volumes of our Definitive Flash Gordon/Jungle Jim. Joe was an Alex Raymond fanboy, as you’ll learn in our third volume of that series.
And while I occupy a sliver of a niche in the industry, I remain a fanboy for select talents; Joe Kubert was definitely among them. At the ’10 NY Comic-Con, I got Joe to autograph my hardcover copy of his superb 2003 graphic novel, Yossel–April 19, 1943. And in April of ’11, in Boston, I imposed on him again, this time to sign my copy of Fax from Sarajevo. My plan is to keep those books on my own shelves until I, too, am called up yonder.
Dean, Lorraine, Beau, and I extend our most sincere sympathies to the Kubert family—and we salute Joe’s monumental contributions to the comics artform.