Joe Kubert was an American comic book artist and a major figure in the history of American comics.
Kubert is best known for his work for DC Comics that included definitive versions of characters like Sgt. Rock and Hawkman, as well as an interpretation of Tarzan for Dark Horse. He also created his own characters and titles, including Tor, Son of Sinbad and The Viking Prince.
In addition to the impact of Kubert’s work, which was influential on generations of comics artists, he helped directly nurture the talent of numerous young comics professionals through the establishment The Kubert School, originally the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, in New Jersey.
The Kubert school was the first accredited school dedicated to cartooning and comic art. It’s a testament to the school that in sharp contrast to some “diploma mill” art schools, the Kubert School has a high drop out rate; young students who think they can cruise through doing pin-ups of Wolverine and big-eyed manga girls soon find they are expected to complete a rigorous program. The school’s graduates include numerous well known figures in the comic book industry.
Kubert’s own style was remarkable for its combination of fluidity and solid draftsmanship. He had a way of using gestural lines and hatching, giving his figures solidity and movement in the same rendering. He also knew how to anchor his page compositions with spotted blacks in a way that allowed his suggestions of movement to play out with a sensation of realism often missing from the work of many mainstream comics artists.
Joe Kubert left a lasting legacy when he died this weekend at the age of 85.
Kubert’s two sons, Adam and Andy Kubert are also well known and respected comics artists, as well as graduates of the Kubert School.
There is a biography, Man of Rock, and a collection, The Art of Joe Kubert, available from Fantagraphics.
[Notice courtesy of Gregory Frost]
[Addendum: The Comics Journal has posted their extensive interview with Joe Kubert from 1994. Gutters has posted a Neal Adams tribute drawing of Kubert and some of the well known graduates of the Kubert School.]