Joseph Kubert (/ˈkjuːbərt/; September 18, 1926 – August 12, 2012) was a Polish-born American comic book artist, art teacher, and founder of The Kubert School. He is best known for his work on the DC Comics characters Sgt. Rock and Hawkman. He is also known for working on his own creations, such as Tor, Son of Sinbad, and the Viking Prince, and, with writer Robin Moore, the comic strip Tales of the Green Beret. Two of Kubert's sons, Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert, themselves became recognized comic book artists, as did Andy's daughter Emma Kubert [2][3] and many of Kubert's former students, including Stephen R. Bissette, Amanda Conner, Rick Veitch, Eric Shanower, Steve Lieber, and Scott Kolins. Kubert's other grand-daughter, Katie Kubert, became an editor for both DC and Marvel Comics.[4][5]

Joe Kubert
Kubert in 2009
Born(1926-09-18)September 18, 1926
Jezierzany, Poland (now Ozeriany, Ternopil Region, Ukraine) [1]
DiedAugust 12, 2012(2012-08-12) (aged 85)
Morristown, New Jersey, U.S.
Area(s)Writer, Artist
Notable works
Fax From Sarajevo
Sgt. Rock
The Punisher: War Zone
AwardsAlley Award (1962, 1963, 1969)
National Cartoonists Society Awards (1974, 1980)
Eisner Award (1977)
Harvey Award (1997)
Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame (2015).
Spouse(s)Muriel Fogelson (1951–2008)

Kubert was inducted into the Harvey Awards' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998.

Early life edit

Kubert was born September 18, 1926[6] to a Jewish family in Jezierzany in southeast Poland (now Ozeriany in Ukraine).[7] He was the son of Etta (née Reisenberg) and Jacob Kubert.[8] He immigrated to Brooklyn, New York City, United States, at age two months with his parents and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister Ida. Raised in the East New York neighborhood, the son of a kosher butcher,[9] Kubert started drawing at an early age, encouraged by his parents.[10]

In his introduction to his graphic novel Yossel, Kubert wrote, "I got my first paying job as a cartoonist for comic books when I was eleven-and-a-half or twelve years old. Five dollars a page. In 1938, that was a lot of money".[10] Another source, utilizing quotes from Kubert, says in 1938, a school friend who was related to Louis Silberkleit, a principal of MLJ Studios (the future Archie Comics), urged Kubert to visit the company, where he began an unofficial apprenticeship and at age 12 "was allowed to ink a rush job, the pencils of Bob Montana's [teen-humor feature] Archie".[11] Author David Hajdu, who interviewed Kubert and other comics professionals for a 2008 book, reported, however, that, "Kubert has told varying versions of the story of his introduction to the comics business at age ten, sometimes setting it at the comics shop run by Harry "A" Chesler, sometimes at MLJ; however, MLJ did not start operation until 1939, when Kubert was thirteen".[12]

Kubert attended Manhattan's High School of Music and Art.[10] During this time he and classmate Norman Maurer, a future collaborator, would sometimes skip school in order to see publishers.[11] Kubert began honing his craft at the Chesler studio, one of the comic-book packagers that had sprung up in the medium's early days to supply outsourced comics to publishers.[citation needed]

Career edit

Early career edit

Kubert's first known professional job was penciling and inking the six-page story "Black-Out", starring the character Volton, in Holyoke Publishing's Catman Comics #8 (March 1942; also listed as vol. 2, #13). He would continue drawing the feature for the next three issues, and was soon doing similar work for Fox Comics' Blue Beetle.[13] Branching into additional art skills, he began coloring the Quality Comics reprints of future industry legend Will Eisner's The Spirit, a seven-page comics feature that originally ran as part of a newspaper Sunday supplement.[14]

1940s and 1950s edit

Kubert's first work for DC Comics, where he would spend much of his career and produce some of his most notable art. Throughout the decade, Kubert's art would appear in comics from Fiction House, Avon, and Harvey Comics, but he worked primarily for All-American and DC.[13] Kubert's long association with the Hawkman character began with the story "A Hot Time in the Old Town" in The Big All-American Comic Book (1944).[15] Kubert drew several Hawkman stories in that title as well as in All Star Comics.[16] He and Irwin Hasen drew the debut of the Injustice Society in All Star Comics #37 (Oct. 1947) in a tale written by Robert Kanigher.[17] The Kanigher/Kubert team created the Thorn in Flash Comics #89 (Nov. 1947).[18]

In the 1950s, he became managing editor of St. John Publications, where he, his old classmate Norman Maurer, and Norman's brother Leonard Maurer produced the first 3-D comic books,[19] starting with Three Dimension Comics #1 (Sept. 1953 oversize format, Oct. 1953 standard-size reprint), featuring Mighty Mouse.[13] According to Kubert, it sold a remarkable 1.2 million copies at 25 cents apiece at a time when comics cost a dime.[20]

At St. John, writer Norman Maurer and artist Kubert created the enduring character Tor, a prehistoric-human protagonist who debuted in the comic 1,000,000 Years Ago (Sept. 1953). Tor immediately went on to star in 3-D Comics #2-3 (Oct.-Nov. 1953), followed by a titular, traditionally 2-D comic-book series, written and drawn by Joe Kubert, that premiered with issue #3 (May 1954). The character has since appeared in series from Eclipse Comics, Marvel Comics' Epic imprint, and DC Comics through at least the 1990s.[13] Kubert in the late 1950s unsuccessfully attempted to sell Tor as a newspaper comic strip. The Tor samples consisted of 12 daily strips, reprinted in six pages in Alter Ego vol. 3 #10 and later expanded to 16 pages in DC Comics' Tor #1. He contributed work to Avon Periodicals, where he did science-fiction stories for Strange Worlds and other titles.[13]

For EC Comics, Kubert drew a few stories for Harvey Kurtzman's Two-Fisted Tales alongside EC stalwarts Wally Wood, Jack Davis, and John Severin.

DC Comics and Sgt. Rock edit

Beginning with Our Army at War #32 (March 1955), Kubert began to freelance again for DC Comics, in addition to Lev Gleason Publications and Atlas Comics, the 1950s iteration of Marvel Comics.[13] By the end of the year he was drawing for DC exclusively. DC editor Julius Schwartz assigned Kubert, Robert Kanigher, and Carmine Infantino to the company's first attempt at reviving superheroes: an updated version of the Flash that would appear in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956).[21] The eventual success of the new, science-fiction oriented Flash heralded the wholesale return of superheroes, and the beginning of what fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books.[22] In the coming years, Kubert would work on such characters as the medieval adventurer the Viking Prince and features starring Sgt. Rock and The Haunted Tank in the war comic G.I. Combat. He and writer Gardner Fox created a new version of Hawkman in The Brave and the Bold #34 (Feb.–March 1961) with the character receiving his own title three years later.[23][24] Kubert's work on Hawkman and Sgt. Rock[25] would become known as his signature efforts. Kubert's main collaborator on the war comics was writer/editor Kanigher.[26][27] Their work together on Sgt. Rock is considered a memorable contribution to the comics medium.[28][29] They introduced Enemy Ace in Our Army at War #151 (Feb. 1965).[30]

From 1965 through 1967 he collaborated with author Robin Moore on the syndicated daily comic strip Tales of the Green Beret for the Chicago Tribune.

Kubert served as DC Comics' director of publications from 1967 to 1976.[31] He made the Unknown Soldier the lead feature of Star Spangled War Stories with issue #151 (June–July 1970)[32] and initiated titles based on such Edgar Rice Burroughs properties as Tarzan[33] and Korak. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that Kubert's "scripts and artwork ranked among the most authentic and effective ever seen."[34] DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz stated in 2010 that "Joe Kubert produced an adaptation that Burroughs aficionados could respect."[35] Kubert edited a number of comic books for DC, including taking over as editor of Sgt. Rock and other military titles and editing Tarzan and other books based on Burroughs' characters.[36] [37] While performing supervisory duties he continued to draw for some books, notably Tarzan from 1972 to 1975 and drew covers and layouts for Rima the Jungle Girl from 1974 to 1975.[13] He edited Limited Collectors' Edition #C–36 which features stories from the Book of Genesis adapted by writer Sheldon Mayer and artist Nestor Redondo.[38] Kubert and Kanigher created Ragman in the first issue (Aug.–Sept. 1976) of that character's short-lived ongoing series.[39]

The Kubert School edit

The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art was founded in September 1976[40] by Kubert and his wife Muriel in Dover, New Jersey's former high school, whose tall windows offered optimal lighting.[41] Its first graduating class of 1978 included Stephen R. Bissette,[42] Thomas Yeates, and Rick Veitch. Kubert taught a number of students who later became notable professionals, including Amanda Conner, Eric Shanower, Steve Lieber, and Scott Kolins.[43][44]

Later career edit

Joe Kubert at the Exhibition: Joe, Adam and Andy Kubert, Heroes, The Israeli Cartoon Museum, Holon, Israel, 2011
Joe, Adam and Andy Kubert, Heroes, The Israeli Cartoon Museum, Holon, Israel, 2011, Display View

Kubert provided art for several anniversary issues of key DC titles. He and writer Paul Levitz crafted a Hawkman story in Detective Comics #500 (March 1981).[45][46] Kubert was one of the artists on the double-sized Justice League of America #200 (March 1982)[47] as well as Batman #400 (Oct. 1986).[48]

He wrote and drew a collection of faith-based comic strips beginning in the late 1980s for Tzivos Hashem, the Lubavitch children's organization, and Moshiach Times magazine. The stories, "The Adventures of Yaakov and Isaac", were based on biblical references but were not Bible stories.[6]

Kubert made a return to writing and drawing in 1991 with the Abraham Stone graphic novel Country Mouse, City Rat for Malibu Comics' Platinum Editions. He returned to the character for two more stories, Radix Malorum and The Revolution published by Epic Comics in 1995.

Also for Epic Comics, he delivered the four-issue Tor miniseries in 1993. Fax from Sarajevo, initially released as a 207-page hardcover book in 1996[49] and two years later as a 224-page trade paperback was published by Dark Horse Comics.[50] The non-fiction book originated as a series of faxes from European comics agent Ervin Rustemagić during the Serbian siege of Sarajevo. Rustemagić and his family, whose home and possessions in suburban Dobrinja were destroyed, spent two-and-a-half years in a ruined building, communicating with the outside world via fax when they could. Friend and client Kubert was one recipient. Collaborating long-distance, they collected Rustemagić's account of life during wartime, with Kubert and editor Bob Cooper turning the raw faxes into a somber comics tale.

Kubert drew the first issue of Stan Lee's Just Imagine... limited series (2001)[51] and two pencil-illustrated graphic novels, Yossel: April 19, 1943 (2003) and Jew Gangster (2005), for IBooks. In 2003, Kubert returned to the Sgt. Rock character, illustrating Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place, a hardcover graphic novel written by Brian Azzarello.[52] Kubert drew Tex, The Lonesome Rider, written by Claudio Nizzi and published by SAF Comics in 2005, and then wrote and drew Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy, a six-issue miniseries in 2006.[13] In the mid-2000s, he was the artist for PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, a United States Army magazine with comic-book elements that stresses the importance of preventive maintenance of vehicles, arms, and other ordnance. In 2008, Kubert returned to his Tor character with a six-issue limited series published by DC Comics entitled Tor: A Prehistoric Odyssey. In 2009, Kubert contributed a new Sgt. Rock story for Wednesday Comics, published by DC.[53][54] His son, Adam, wrote the story, his first foray at scripting. In 2011, Joe Kubert wrote the introduction and drew the lenticular 3-D front cover for Craig Yoe's Amazing 3-D Comics![13] Kubert inked his son Andy's pencils on the first two issues of DC Universe: Legacies, a 10 issue series chronicling the history of the DC Universe.[55] and the Before Watchmen: Nite Owl limited series.[56][57] The first two issues of Before Watchmen: Nite Owl were released before Kubert's death. The other two were released posthumously. In 2012 Kubert and the Joe Kubert school produced a syndicated comic strip, "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates", reprinted in Comics Revue. DC Comics published Joe Kubert Presents (Dec. 2012-May 2013) edited by Kubert and featuring stories by Kubert (Hawkman, Spit and The Redeemer), Sam Glanzman (U.S.S. Stevens), and Brian Buniak (Angel and the Ape).[58]

Personal life edit

Kubert married Muriel Fogelson on July 8, 1951.[59] In the early 1960s, the Kuberts moved to Dover, New Jersey where they raised their five children:[41] David, the eldest, followed by Danny, Lisa, and comic-book artists Adam and Andy Kubert.[60] Kubert's granddaughter Katie Kubert works as a comics editor. She worked at DC Comics for five years as an editor on the Batman titles, and left to work on the X-Men titles at Marvel Comics in June 2014.[4][5] Kubert's grandson and graduate of The Kubert School, Orion Zangara, is also a comic-book artist who is currently working on a graphic novel trilogy for the Lerner Publishing Group. Grand-daughter Emma Kubert is a comic book writer and artist.[2][3]

Death edit

Kubert died of multiple myeloma[31] on August 12, 2012, a month short of his 86th birthday.[60] He was predeceased by his wife Muriel in 2008.[31]

Awards and recognition edit

Kubert's several awards and nominations include:

Kubert was inducted into the Harvey Awards' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1997,[67] and Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998.[69] In 2009, Kubert received the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cartoonists Society.[70]

Kubert was awarded the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award in 2015. His acceptance speech was given by Orion Zangara, his grandson and graduate of The Kubert School, on behalf of the Kubert Estate.[71]

Archive edit

Kubert's drafting table is on permanent exhibit in the Kubert Lounge and Gallery, which opened in September 2023 at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection in Rochester, NY. Adam Kubert donated his father's archive to the Cary Collection at his alma mater, the Rochester Institute of Technology, where archivists recreated Joe Kubert’s work surface from photographs of his office at the Kubert School.[72][73]

Bibliography edit

DC Comics edit

Marvel Comics edit

Collected editions edit

  • Tarzan: The Joe Kubert Years (Dark Horse Comics)
    • Volume 1 collects Tarzan #207–214, 200 pages, November 2005, ISBN 1593074042[74]
    • Volume 2 collects Tarzan #215–224, 208 pages, March 2006, ISBN 1593074166[75]
    • Volume 3 collects Tarzan #225–235, 216 pages, July 2006, ISBN 1-59307-417-4[76] (omits one page Kubert story "Tarzan's Animal Encyclopedia").
  • Enemy Ace Archives (DC Comics)
  • Hawkman Archives (DC Comics)
  • Sgt. Rock Archives (DC Comics)
    • Volume 1 collects Sgt. Rock stories from G.I. Combat #68; Our Army at War #81–96, 240 pages, May 2002, ISBN 978-1563898419
    • Volume 2 collects Sgt. Rock stories from Our Army at War #97–110, 216 pages, December 2003, ISBN 978-1401201463
    • Volume 3 collects Sgt. Rock stories from Our Army at War #111–125, 224 pages, August 2005, ISBN 978-1401204105
    • Volume 4 collects Sgt. Rock stories from Our Army at War #126–137 and Showcase #45, 248 pages, October 2012, ISBN 978-1401237264
  • Tor (DC Comics)
  • Wednesday Comics DC Comics, 200 pages, June 2010, ISBN 1-4012-2747-3
  • Joe Kubert's Tarzan of the Apes: Artist's Edition IDW Publishing, 156 pages, September 2012, ISBN 1613774494[77][78]

References edit

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  2. ^ a b "Emma Kubert on Her New Webcomic "Brush Stroke," Inspirations, and New Comics". Multiversity Comics. 2022-02-22. Retrieved 2023-09-10.
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  12. ^ Hajdu, David. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America, page 357. New York, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. ISBN 0-374-18767-3; ISBN 978-0-374-18767-5.
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  15. ^ Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1940s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Artist Joe Kubert began his most memorable work on the gravity-defying superhero Hawkman in this issue..."The Painter and the $100,000" written by Gardner Fox marked the start of a long and fruitful run between illustrator and character. {{cite book}}: |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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  18. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 57: "Writer Robert Kanigher and artist Joe Kubert presented a female twist on Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the Thorn."
  19. ^ "WonderCon Special Guests". Comic-Con Magazine. San Diego Comic-Con International: 20. Winter 2010.
  20. ^ "Joe Kubert Interview: A Myth in the World of Comics". c. 2001. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010.
  21. ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Silver Age 1956-1970". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 251. ISBN 9783836519816. Together Schwartz, Kanigher, Infantino, and Kubert would set a tone for the Flash that was both cinematic...and influenced by Schwartz's first love of science fiction.
  22. ^ Irvine, Alex "1950s" in Dolan, p. 80: "The arrival of the second incarnation of the Flash in [Showcase] issue #4 is considered to be the official start of the Silver Age of comics."
  23. ^ McAvennie, Michael "1960s" in Dolan, p. 102: "DC's...renaissance soared to new heights with the return of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Writer Gardner Fox and artist Joe Kubert...ushered in a pair of Winged Wonders that, costumes aside, were radically different from their Golden Age predecessors."
  24. ^ Daniels, Les (1995). "The Silver Age Applying a Fine Shine". DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. New York, New York: Bulfinch Press. p. 130. ISBN 0821220764. Hawkman took a little longer to get off the ground. He showed up initially in The Brave and the Bold #34 (February/March 1961), but had to wait three years for Hawkman #1 (April–May 1964).
  25. ^ Marks, Darren C. (31 Oct 2018). "'Sgt Rock is Jewish?' Joe Kubert, Jews and the Holocaust in American comic books: 1938–2006". Jewish Culture and History. 20 (2): 166–187.
  26. ^ Pasko, Martin (2008). The DC Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Running Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0762432578. It was Bob Kanigher who led the company into the new genre...Kanigher originally worked on these books with many artists, including Jerry Grandenetti, Gene Colan, Russ Heath, and Irv Novick but the Kanigher-[Joe] Kubert work would prove the most memorable.
  27. ^ Schelly, Bill (2011). The Art of Joe Kubert. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. p. 133. ISBN 978-1606994870. With the cancellation of EC's legendary war titles in the wake of the Comics Code, DC's war comics were the finest being published in the second half of the decade. And this was largely attributable to their editor and chief writer, Robert Kanigher.
  28. ^ Markstein, Don (2008). "Sgt. Rock". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013.
  29. ^ Daniels, "Back to the Battlefield", p. 104: "The most famous Kanigher-Kubert collaboration involved Sgt. Rock, who has gone on to become a part of our collective mythology as the archetype of the gruff, cynical, good-hearted noncommissioned officer."
  30. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 114: "This landmark issue...presented a very different look at war through the eyes of Enemy Ace Rittmeister Hans von Hammer. Writer/editor Robert Kanigher and artist Joe Kubert based von Hammer on German WWI pilot Manfred von Richthofen a.k.a. the "Red Baron"."
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  33. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 151 "Tarzan enjoyed a prolific period in comics when DC acquired the rights to novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs' iconic ape-man. Much of that success should be attributed to writer, artist, and editor Joe Kubert, a lifelong Tarzan fan whose gritty, expressive style was perfect for the jungle hero."
  34. ^ Daniels, "Looking Backward", p. 166
  35. ^ Levitz, "The Bronze Age 1970-1984", p. 449
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  40. ^ Schelly, pp. 186–195
  41. ^ a b Jennings, Dana (December 14, 2003). "Paper, Pencil And a Dream". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved March 29, 2012. Mr. Kubert said that Dover, which has 18,000 people and is bisected by the Rockaway River, suits him. He and his wife, Muriel, raised their five children here, and it was here that they opened their school.
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