The news of legendary comic artist Joe Kubert's death over the weekend spread through the comic book industry today, and creators reacted with both sadness and admiration for a man who not only shared his creativity with fans, but also his knowledge with other artists.
Newsarama contacted several professionals in the comics business to find out their thoughts about Kubert's legacy and the loss of one of the greats.
This is terrible news. I don't think it's possible to overstate Joe Kubert's importance to the field of comics. One of the true greats. An absolute legend. A giant. No. Even phrases like that don't seem adequate to describe the man we've lost.
Charles P. Wilson III
Joe was always really nice, patient, had good advice when it came to illustration and work ethic and I've been able to carry everything I've learned at his school with me long after graduation.
His school offered me much-needed direction when it came to my drawing and once I'd left and wandered out into the comic book industry I've met a lot of other Kubert graduates and seen the remarkable things they've accomplished since they'd graduated. And they seem to be everywhere, and it's wonderful to meet them and exchange stories of our times at the school and what we chose to work on for our final assignment in Joe's class at the end of third year.
I was saddened by the death of Joe Kubert. I was a huge fan of his work, and really learned how to ink from a one-page tutorial he had done in a Tarzan comic. In 1981, at Chicago comic con, I sat alongside Joe Kubert on my first-ever comic panel as a professional. I can't say I knew him well, but every time I saw him he treated me like an old friend. His artistic legacy is huge, and he will be remembered for many things-- the school that bears his name, the many students who passed through those doors, as well as the wonderful work he produced, from DC's golden age, to the present. My deepest condolences to the family and his friends.John Ostrander I taught at the Kubert School on two occasions and talked with Joe many, many times. It was great to eat in the faculty lunchroom with Joe, especially when he was in there kibitzing with Irwin Hasen and Hy Eisman. They were a riot together and Joe had so much fun. Her had a great sense of humor. All the students mattered to him. He was the consummate pro.
There are things you hear that you wish you could unhear; that you could wave your hand and make it change back to how it was. The news of Joe's death was one of these.
I'm really heartbroken. I'd like to express my deep sympathy to the Kubert family.
It's not often someone becomes one of the absolute best artists in their field and then has this incredible, secondary father figure relationship with almost everybody else who works in comic books. Either you went to the school, or you wanted to go to that school.
And once you had the chance to learn from him, it was an incredible experience.
It's very rare that you get someone who has that incredible reputation and they not only live up to it, they surpass it.
Joe was an influence long before I went to his school, but I learned a lot from him there. And when I started working in comics, my first jobs were a caveman story, a Western, some war comics, and Hawkman. Joe's influence on my art was clearly not hard to recognize.
But as an instructor and mentor, he taught us so much more than how to draw. He was a role model for how to live as an artist, and it's taken me years to assimilate his lessons. I wouldn't have made it without him.
Sad news. Joe was without a doubt one of — if not the — Last Living Legends in comics. A true genius with a brush (or pen... or stick, if that’s all he could get his hands on!), he was one of the great stylists comics has ever produced. You can point to dozens of artists who emulated Kirby, Caniff, Raymond, Buscema — but damn few (I can’t think of any!) who tried to copy Joe’s style. It was individualistic and inimitable. And spontaneous. And surprising. And shockingly effortless. My God, it flowed from his fingers like water. And I’ll tell you something else: Joe was the only— the only — comics artist who continued to get better and better over the years. His most recent projects were every bit as good as stuff he’d done ten, twenty, thirty years ago. He was still in his prime.
Of course, no one else has touched more cartoonists as Joe did through his school. I know I was damn intimidated when I went in for my interview! But Joe was as big-hearted as he was talented, and instantly put me at ease. In fact, it’s Joe’s heart that I remember most when I think back on my short stay at the Kubert School. I remember him talking about how hard it was to decide who should get into the school, trying to decide if talent or passion should be the bigger determining factor in admission. My memory is he came down on the side of passion.
Neal AdamsWhen my mother, sister and I — at 10 years old — got off a plane in Ireland, as our first hop to join America's occupation forces, we were disgusting! The American government sent families to join their dads and husbands on the biggest job an army ever undertook, to rebuild Germany. Whole communities of new housing were to be built by the Army Corps of Engineers, and German workers. They would build, and live in and, at the end, turn over to Germans these massive communities, while employing Germans in every possible job function, in order to set Germany on their feet. All of which meant nothing to 10-year-old me. I, my mom and sister had just spent over 10 hours on a 4 propeller transport plane through the roughest weather you could ever imagine. The vomiting began about an hour in. Vomit bags? There were some. Nowhere near enough. Over half the passengers were kids. One smell hurk was enough to start the marathon. Then the weather got really bad.
Landing in Ireland was heaven. There was one more flight to go. Mom cleaned us up as best she could and we got candy and peanuts in the PX, (Post Exchange). And as in all PX's they had comic books. The world went away.
There it stood. Issue #1 of TOR of 1,000,000 B.C. By Joe Kubert. I was carried away. I thought I recognized the style, but I didn't know from where. There I was, a vomit-stained, exhausted, bewildered 10 years old, stunned to the soles of my feet, holding in my hands my future, my boulder of a stepping stone to everything I would come to love, do, and aspire to. TOR — not a costumed Superhero, no "Big Red Cheese," Supersnipe, Batman, and the rest. TOR, a caveman — no, a modern man, among "neanderthals" and dinosaurs, totally out of time, but this was fantasy, mixed with reality.
Later I found these two young talents had gone to St. John's Publishing to begin a new company. Joe Kubert and Norman Maurer changed the future — or tried to. New concepts, 3-D comics. Norman got close to the Three Stooges, Married Moe's daughter, and began to produce feature-length Three Stooges movies, while Joe changed comics.
Then Fredric Wertham happened along with Congress having hearings, as to whether comics were corrupting America's youth. The comic book business blew up in everyone's face and..... Joe Kubert landed squarely on his feet, re-beginning his career as D.C. comics' "Premier War Comic Artist," where he and the "unique" Bob Kaniger again revolutionized comic books (when I got back from Germany and went to high school.) Comic books had been reduced by Congress and Wertham to toilet paper.
Through it all Joe Kubert not only persevered, his work grew — in quality, power, and new ideas. He was his own Phoenix, re-creating himself and our business over and over, better and more incredible with every powerful, calm, and relentless step...and I became his friend.
No, I don't mean 'friend," I mean "FRIEND." You know, the kind of friend you can count on the fingers of one hand, and maybe cut off a finger or two.
I wish I had space and time to tell you of all the ways my relationship with Joe grew and grew. You wouldn't understand, honestly. There are no words. And, of course, there are many, many words. Maybe one day. Not today.
Today Joe is dead. And all I can give you is this. I'm sorry. Joe was worth so much more.
I have been out of touch all weekend. I had no idea Mr. Kubert passed away. That's extremely sad news.
I should have felt the Earth shudder as this giant of the comics world laid down his load. It's hard to overestimate the impact Joe Kubert had on generations of comics fans, admirers, and professionals. I grew up reading his books in the '70s, where he blew me away with Sgt. Rock, Tarzan, Batman, well, fill in your own amazing list of titles and stories. His storytelling mastery was as unsurpassed as his draftsmanship was impeccable.
Not only was he one of our finest craftsmen, but he also trained a generation of comics professionals. My sincere condolences go out to Andy and Adam and their families. We all share your loss.
Paul LevitzJoe Kubert passed away today--a presence in my life from his beautiful artwork in the comics of my childhood, his generosity while I was doing The Comic Reader, literally decades of working together in many combinations including the joy of having him illustrate my scripts and seeing our relationship grow into friendship.
I had the privilege of interviewing Joe recently for the new Taschen volume, and the voice that came through was a man more gracious to his teachers and more filled with the belief that he was lucky to have spent his life doing what he loved than you could imagine...sentiments that were of his essence.
The world of comics is so much better for his contributions as an artist, a pioneering self-publisher, editor, writer and teacher.
Somewhere, there's a spirit with the strongest handshake ever getting ready to start drawing on clouds...
Our sincerest condolences to his family. His legacy is truly stunning. A true giant and legend that will continue to enrich comics for so many of us. Thank you Mr. Kubert.
Joe Kubert. Artist. Mentor. Teacher. Father. Icon. He made comics better in countless ways. Joe may be gone, but his legacy is everlasting.
Joe was a legend whom I had the pleasure of knowing. You can't put into words the impact he had on our industry. He will be missed. My heart goes out to the Kubert family for their loss.
Tony S. Daniel
It's a big loss for his family and I send my heartfelt condolences to Katie, Andy, Adam and the rest of Joe's family and loved ones. It's also a great loss for the comic community and his presence will be missed. He has inspired me greatly and I always looked at him as a role model. His footprint on the industry is a big one and I know it will never fade. Thank you, Joe Kubert, for showing so many of us how it's supposed to be done.
Joe Kubert inspired the artists who inspired the artists who inspired us.
David HineI never met Joe Kubert but it still feels like an old friend has gone. I grew up reading his comics, starting with Sgt. Rock and then discovering Viking Prince and Hawkman. Kubert taught me to appreciate a style of comics art that is based on pure drawing. Like most young fans I was obsessed by style, by slick line work and detail. Watching Kubert progress from the tight line art of Rock through the wonderful loose brushwork of Ragman, Rima and Tarzan, culminating on the amazing work he did on Firehair, took me on a journey that led me to appreciate artists like Alex Toth and Hugo Pratt. The brush became more than a tool, it became an instrument that expressed the soul of the artist. And Joe Kubert never stopped playing that instrument. Even in his seventies and eighties the art was as powerful and expressive as ever. Only a few days ago I was saying that it seemed like that flow of art would never end.
I would leave a eulogy to those individuals who knew the man, while offering my condolences to his sons and family. I never met Mr. Kubert, but always admired him as a fan.
His considerable legacy as an artist, innovator and creator is equaled only by his legacy as a teacher. Through his school he has given our industry some of it's brightest talents.
Joe Kubert stands in that hallowed pantheon where Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Alex Raymond, Gil Kane and few others reside. His contributions are eternal, his legacy immortal.
Joe was, in every sense of the word, a gentleman. And he was a brilliant artist and teacher. There is nobody on the planet, in or out of comics, whom I respected more.
I don't think it ever occurred to me that there'd be a time when we wouldn't have Joe Kubert. Joe has been a constant in the comics industry, almost since there WAS a comics industry. I'm trying to envision our business without Joe, and right now I honestly can't. He was the best of what we had to offer: artist, writer, teacher, humanitarian. Asking me to put Joe's legacy into a few words is useless. I can't. Nobody can."
I just want to tell the Kubert family how grateful I am for the influence that their father had on me as one of his students. They should be proud of their father, because he's influenced the comic book industry probably more than anybody I can think of. They have quite a legacy in their family.
You can't even measure the influence he had on this industry.
Joe was one of the great talents of the industry and a nice man. I had great respect for him and his talent. He will be missed.
Mike Deodato Jr.
It's not often a guy says, "Hey, I've been in the comics business since its beginnings; let's open a school!" But Joe Kubert did that. To be equally at home creating books about Tarzan, World War II, dinosaurs, or The Three Stooges -- well, Joe Kubert did that, too.
Aside from spawning a couple of really talented kids, Joe was able to affect the lives of hundreds of creative folks -- perhaps thousands -- with his School. But to me, perhaps more valuable than his school were his comic books. The craftsmanship, the storytelling, the sense of drama and acting on the page -- his books could deliver it all.
We'll all mourn the loss of Joe Kubert the human being. He left us, however, with something like 70 years of stories and art that we'll learn from, enjoy, and remember. Thank you, Joe. I'm going to go dig out my Tarzan books now.Jim Lee (Via twitter) RIP Joe Kubert. My first comic ever was an issue of Tarzan he illustrated back when I was just a kid and read comics at the barbershop. The grace and fluidity of his figures was something I always looked up to and tried to emulate. Obviously, "tried" being the operative word. No one could make it look so easy and so beautiful. No one trained and taught and encouraged so many to become better at their craft. He was a living legend with the strongest handshake I had ever felt and we can only hope to be as vital and triumphant in our work as he was in his. Condolences go out to his family, in particular Andy and Adam and Katie all of whom I'm lucky to count as friends. Geoff Johns (Via twitter) Joe Kubert's work and inspiration will be felt forever. He's the definition of legend. DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee (Via Press Release) For those of us who knew him personally, as well as those of us who knew him primarily for his remarkable talent and impact on our industry over the years, Joe Kubert was part of the DC family. On behalf of our executive team, as well as everyone at DC Entertainment who cares about Joe and the whole Kubert family, we send our prayers, our sympathy and our deepest appreciation for everything he’s contributed to comics over the course of his life and career. Until the very end, Joe was creating art that will live on for generations and we will all miss him deeply. DC Entertainment Executive Team (Via The Source) *Revised 2:35pm We are saddened to learn of the death of our colleague and friend Joe Kubert. An absolute legend in the industry, his legacy will live on through his remarkable talent, with his sons and with the many artists who have passed through the storied halls of his celebrated school. An important member of the DC Comics family, Joe made an indelible mark on the entire DC Comics universe including his renowned and award-winning work on iconic characters such as Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, Hawkman and most recently Nite Owl. We are so honored to have worked side-by-side with such an unforgettable force in both comics and in life. Original DC Statement: We are saddened to learn of the death of our colleague and friend Joe Kubert. An absolute legend in the industry, his legacy will not only live on with his sons, but with the many artists who have passed through the storied halls of his celebrated school. His latest work on BEFORE WATCHMEN: NITE OWL was among his best, and we are so honored to have worked side-by-side with such an unforgettable force in both comics and in life. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!