Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In Memory of Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert  Sept. 18, 1926 - August 12, 2012

I thought I'd take a moment to honor one of the legendary greats, and a personal favorite of mine, Joe Kubert, who recently passed away...

A fantastic page from Vertigo's Between Hell And A Hard Place DC2012

Accept no substitutions-Joe Kubert was an artist's artist!

One of my first Joe Kubert comics was a Sgt. Rock annual from 1972. Or was it 73? I can't remember, and my comic collection has thinned out considerably since my days as a nine to twelve year old. I do not have the comic anymore, but...

Back when we lived in Santa Cruz California, my older brother worked at a corner convenience store and they would get a spinning rack or two of comics each month. When he came home, he'd have a dozen comics stuffed into his coat. Plus, he knew older boys who had 'out grown' comics and unloaded them onto us. By the end of the year, we had three or four giant stacks of comics. The stacks were so high, you could sit on the top of the bunk bed, and pull a comic book off of the top of the stack (so, maybe 6, 7, or 8 feet tall), without a fuss. And we had everything! I was reading Amazing Spider Man and Richie Rich and Superman and Detective Comics and Avengers and Sgt. Rock and, well, just about anything else. When I think of having to leave those comics books behind when we moved (my mom did not want us to pack them up, and 'rot our minds' etc) from Santa Cruz to Fresno, I cry a little inside, because I'd be a freaking rich guy in today's comic book market. I shudder to think...

I digress...My brother loved Sgt. Rock and Haunted Tank and all the Easy Company stories. I liked those too, but I was partial to Tarzan, Enemy Ace and the Viking Prince. And later, Tor (of course) ! It's very rare to find a comic book artist that can draw everything, especially wild animals (and WW I and II airplanes, tanks and automobliles, and the fashions of the  time period). But, for me, Kubert's beasts inhabit that twilight area of a realistic looking animal, yet stylized to convey a scary intelligence, or an aggressive vibe. But he could also convey deeper meanings with a pen stroke (bust open any 1972 Tarzan comic book and study the ape's expressions, and you'll know what I mean). Whether it was a giant crocidile, an enormous snake, or some sort of prehistoric monster, it always looked great. His style was unmistakable. His layouts were clean and consice, yet groundbreakingly cool. And nobody did blooming plants, arched trees, and over grown jungles like him. And his street level, big city themed comics (Abraham Stone, for example) were second to none. Forgetaboutit !    

The last Sgt. Rock story I read was 2012's Between Hell And A Hard Place, (with Brian Azzarello), and even though he was pushing into his 80's, (and, I'm assuming, fighting cancer) he still delivered an awesome WW II story. Another one of many. His works still brings me great ideas and wonderful pictures. If you haven't read (or seen) any of his books, I highly recommend you do so soon. Prayers and good luck to the rest of the Kubert family (who are also spectacular artists in their own ways). He was a great man who lived a great life. Let's celebrate his Awesomeness !  


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