Joe Kubert ~ Reflecting On The Loss Of An Old Friend I Didn't Know

When a man like Joe Kubert passes away, it's the kind of death where most will ask "Who's Joe Kubert?" but many, who never met him, will feel a great sense of loss. Joe Kubert died yesterday, August 12th, and I feel a great sense of loss.

Joe Kubert was one of the great comic book artist of the Silver Age of comic books . . . and, comic books are one of only two authentic American art forms. Because we are a melting pot, because our culture has largely been transplanted here from other nations, our art (literature, painting, etc) is almost exclusively derivative of other culture's art forms. The only two art forms that are commonly recognized to be authentic American art forms, art that started here and went out to the rest of the world rather than art that came from the rest of the world here to us, are comic books and Blues (which became Rock & Roll) music.

Joe Kubert helped define American comic book art, he was one of the great influences of today's generation of gifted artists. The Silver Age (when he established himself as one of the greats) was, basically, the 60s, the 'baby boomer' era of great Superhero and SciFi comic books . . . but Joe Kubert is undoubtedly most associated with and remembered for his army/war comics, and most particularly, for 'Sgt.Rock'.

Kubert was an artist, had a style, that you could see his work . . . I mean, his panels looked like someone started with a blank page, sketched-out a scene, and then refined it. His characters looked like someone drew them. That might seem a redundant observation, but I was particularly fond of the work of Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, and their work was quite different. They all worked for DC comics, so any of them might, on occasion, draw Superman, Batman, Hawkman, etc . . . but Infantino & Anderson's art had a clean line, polished, pristine look to it, you couldn't so instantly or easily visualize someone actually drawing their panels - but Kubert's work, though just as good, looked like pencil lines and shading, his work always looked like someone actually drew that scene . . . and eventually, it became easy to tell that Joe Kubert drew 'that' scene.

Imagine tuning in 'Star Wars' on tv and seeing the Millennium Falcon, light sabers, etc, etc, it IS 'Star Wars' - but suddenly you recognize Nicholas Cage is playing Luke Skywalker!? Nicholas Cage is fine, I like a good number of his films - but he's not Luke Skywalker! That's what it would be like when you were 10 or 12 years old in 1965 and you got the latest 'Hawkman" comic, and this issue wasn't drawn but Joe Kubert. Hawkman was another character associated with Kubert, which meant that Hawkman looked like Kubert drew him, he seemed to move like Kubert positioned him, the whole comic book looked like a Joe Kubert comic book - so, when someone else was assigned to a particular issue, little boys noticed.

Another comic Kubert will long be remembered for is "Tor", a kind of prehistoric Tarzan character. With these comics we got to see landscapes and creatures not common to the Army & superhero comics . . . and we got to see just how brilliant Joe Kubert was.

Years ago, on my oldest son's 12th birthday, I picked-out 12 great, classic comics from my own collection, and gave them to him as gifts - he gently wept as he flipped through them because he knew how much they meant to me, and that I was giving them to him. His favorite comic book series and character became Hawkman - and it is such a delight to see his genuine appreciation of something I have such respect for. They are comic books, for kids, action drawings not fine art - but look at them, they're beautiful, they tell a story, and they feed the imagination. And Joe Kubert was one of the best . . . thanks Joe, you've meant a lot to a kid, a dad, and his own kids - now, let's go capture the hearts & minds of the grandkids.

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Comments 10 comments

CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 4 years ago

Mickey, Yes I am sad he passed away, he is a loss and part of our growing up has now gone. Thank you for this hub and letting me know about Joe Kubert. Up, interesting and sharing!

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

This is a wonderful tribute to a creative genius. Comic books were the mainstay of past generations. Thanks for sharing this.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America

We are privileged to have some of these legends of comics with us for so long. I enjoyed Hawkman very much as a child and even read Sgt. Rock.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

CyberShelly ~ those folks whose work we know, whose impact has affected us, yet we don't know of them personally, is (I think) a peculiarity of modern times . . . the further we get from the campfire storyteller, the further we get from the story's teller. Thanks for the comment.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

carol7777 ~ thanks, I appreciate the comment and encouragement.

CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 4 years ago

Hi MickeySr, you are quite right in your reply to me, I am also going to share this on Reddit as more people need to know that someone who gave us all so much pleasure, has now left us. We can remember, and be grateful he lived. Sometimes you wish we could go back to the magic of the campfire storyteller - the iPad or Kindle doesn't quite cut it!

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Patty ~ "privileged" is right, and a privilege ought to be appreciated. Thanks for commenting.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

CyberShelley ~ thanks so much for 'sharing' and for 'Redditing' my piece, I wrote about Kubert because I want others to know, so any further exposure is appreciated.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Nice tribute, Mickey. I'm unaware of this artist because I didn't read war comic books. But I definitely see why you respect this artist. He was an artist! Yes, you can see his pencil lines, his deliberation, the pouring forth of his soul, belief and experiences. He was truly a phenomenal artist!

Thank you for bringing him to light.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Beautifully done Mickey. This generation will never know nor appreciate the likes of artists like Joe Kubert. I totally agree his work is art and pure genius in its reality. Thank you for this wonderful hub.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

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