I never met Joe Kubert in either of my stints in the comic-book world, but I spoke with him on the phone a few times. Mr. Kubert, a pioneering artist who worked mainly for DC Comics, had started a school for cartooning and graphic arts in Dover, New Jersey. There were two young friends and employees of mine in whom I saw great potential.
I spoke with Mr. Kubert about them both. These conversations were about ten years apart, but Mr. Kubert had the same two questions about the young men I was touting: “Are they good? Will they listen?”
Both young men attended his school to their decided benefit. He and his staff taught them what they needed to know to augment their talent with real-world chops. After a couple of years at the Kubert School, both these young men were not only pro-level cartoonists, but could handle any graphic assignment someone might throw at them. They not only knew the theory but how to get it done without a lot of floundering around. Both young men have done well in their careers, thanks to Joe Kubert. There are many others who can say the same thing.
When I first saw Joe Kubert’s work, in some of the DC war comics, I didn’t like it. It was gritty and a tad ugly to my eye.
Then I saw his work on the revamping of the Hawkman feature in the early 1960s. His work on Hawkman soared; it was lyrical and clearly showed the joy and freedom of flight.
Thus I began to realize that Joe Kubert was simply a better artist than I had encountered before. He was capable of creating more than pretty drawings; he was gifted enough to produce emotional drawings based upon realism. War was ugly, so he drew it ugly; flying was about grace in the air, and he drew it that way.
His composition skills were equal to his draftsmanship; he did tons of covers for DC where his covers were the best thing about the book and where the poor artist who did the interior pages just wasn’t Kubert’s equal.
He was a pioneer, yes, but he also was driven to teach what he had learned to new generations of artists. He gave back and provided leadership to many young people who will carry his legacy into the future.
Thanks, Mr. Kubert.