comic book creator #2

#2 • Summer 2013 #2 • Summer 2013 a tribute to the a tribute to the presents presents

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COMIC BOOK CREATOR #2 pays tribute to the late, great JOE KUBERT in a 160-page double-size BOOK extravaganza! Squeezed between Kubert homage covers by SERGIO CARIELLO and TIM TRUMAN, this Summer Special is entirely devoted to the legendary comics creator who passed away in 2012. Included are comprehensive examinations of each facet of Joe's career: Golden Age fan favorite artist, 3-D comics pioneer, pre-eminent war delineator, top artist-as-editor, incomparable Tarzan writer and artist, founder of the Kubert School, graphic novelist, P*S magazine helmsman, father to a comics creator dynasty, and inspiration to generations of aspiring artists—replete with interviews with the master from over the years, plus rarely-seen artwork and artifacts. There's also testimonials, remembrances, portraits, anecdotes, pin-ups and mini-interviews by peers, faculty, students, fans, friends and family, with special emphasis on a history of the Kubert School.


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Who is Joe Kubert?Born Yosaif Kubert in Yzeran, Poland, on Sept. 18, 1926, Joe came to America

with family as an infant, growing up in hard-scrabble Brooklyn, New York, where nascent drawing talent and early exposure to newspaper adventure comic strips set him on a career path. Coming of age during the Great Depression with a strong work ethic that would guide him throughout his 85 years, the only son was instilled with an enduring desire to lead by example. Joe eagerly sought out comics studios, where he swept floors at the tender age of 11, soon selling his first professional work as artist. Early on the youngster developed a sustained gratitude for the opportunity to learn from more seasoned pros who unselfishly shared expertise and experience with this kid from off the street.

Joe Kubert’s professional accolades are tremendous: Influential fan favorite with his ’40s “Hawkman” work; co-creator of 3-D comics; artist of exemplary war comics with “Sgt. Rock” and “Enemy Ace”; early supporter of comics fandom; newspaper strip artist; innovative and hugely respected comics editor; talented writer; likely the finest comics adapter of Tarzan; founder/head instructor of the first — and only — institution devoted to teaching the art of the comic book; progenitor of graphic novels, beginning with the proto-journalism of Fax from Sarajevo and culminating in his masterpiece, Yossel: April 19, 1943. To the end, which occurred on Aug. 12, 2012, Joe always strove to create better work.

Family was always paramount to Joe, so much so his beloved wife, Muriel, was also his partner in the Kubert School, and so much so that two of his sons were inspired to follow him into the field, where they have excelled on their own.

Words cannot attest to the quality of his artistry, but we can say without equivocation that Joe Kubert was one of the best stylists and storytellers to ever grace the field of the comic book, American or otherwise. Come see in these pages and judge for yourself. And learn more about this wonderful man.

Frontispiece: Background is, courtesy of Heritage Auctions, Joe Kubert’s preliminary Tarzan sketch, rendered about the time DC Comics obtained the license in the early ’70s. Circular inset is a detail from Joe’s “Gargoyles” two-pager, which appeared, among other places, in black-&-white in the TwoMorrows book, Streetwise. You’ll find the fully-hued version courtesy of Peter Carlsson and The Kubert School inside these pages, ably colored by Joe Panico of Tell-A-Graphics. Page two-three spread: Seth Kushner shared this evocative portrait of Joe from Autumn 2008, originally shot for Seth and Christopher Irving’s book, Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. Page four: Joe Kubert’s drawing table, as he last left it, in his Kubert School office. Photos by Ye Ed, Mar. ’13. Page five: Ye Ed’s own copy of DC Special #5 [Oct.-Dec. ’69], a comic entirely devoted to Joe Kubert, who personally inscribed the cover during Joe and Ye Ed’s first meet-ing in Feb. ’97. This page: Joe Kubert and his three-and-a-half year old youngest son, Andy, at the drawing board working on the syndicated newspaper adventure comic strip Tales of the Green Berets. Andy wrote on a DC blog about this Mor-ristown Daily Record photo from 1965: “It was taken in my dad’s studio in the house I grew up in… his studio was above the attached garage overlooking the woods in the backyard. I still remember the smell of the paper and ink in there. He would let me set up a little area to draw and read comics as he drew. I loved the war, mystery and Superman and Batman comics. He would also show me a few drawing tricks… From the looks of the photo, I don’t know how he put up with me in there!” Next page: [clockwise from top] The Kubert School lensed by Sara Harper-Hudson and courtesy of Jae H. Choi & TKS; Joe confers with an aspiring artist at a Kubert School open house in recent years; and the old Baker Mansion, original abode of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc., and now a school dormitory. Courtesy of William Bossert.

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Table of ContentsEditor’s Preface: Joe Kubert and the Power of Example .......................... 8

Making His Mark: Christopher Irving’s Visit with Joe Kubert ................. 10

Bill Schelly’s Top Ten Joe Kubert Comics ................... 19

Keepers of the Flame: Adam & Andy Kubert on Facing the Future ................ 22

The Making of a Master of Sequential Art ................. 40

Arlen Schumer: Joe Kubert’s Five Comic Stars ......... 57

Ervin Rustemagic’s Fax from Sarajevo Postscript ..... 63

The Wizard Remembers Joe: An Interview with Frank Thorne ................................... 67

The All-American Cartoonist: A Chat with Irwin Hasen by Michael Aushenker ...... 72

Fred Hembeck’s Dateline: ??!!@# ................................ 77

That Other Man of Rock: Russ Heath Interview by Richard Arndt ...................... 78

“Gargoyles” by Joe Kubert/Colors by Joe Panico ........ 80

Day-In, Day-Out: Working with Joe Kubert An Interview with Peter Carlsson ................................ 82

George Pratt on Teaching the Teacher ....................... 90

Rick Veitch’s Journey with Joe .................................... 93

Giving Back: Teaching at the Kubert School ............. 96

Timothy Truman: Joe Kubert’s Heart & Fire .............. 106

Paul Levitz on Kubert Taking Care of Business ........ 111

Fans, Friends & Students Remember the Master ... 116

Ivan Snyder’s Wonderful World of Heroes ............... 142

Harry Brod on the Anti-War War Comics Artist ...... 144

A Portrait of Joe Kubert by Greg Preston ................. 149

Comic Book Creator Contributors .............................. 149

Joe’s Return to Jewish Roots by Rafael Medoff ...... 150

Creator’s Creators: The Aushenker Effect ................ 159

Coming Attractions: Comic Book Creator #3 ............ 159

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words ................. 160

ABOUT OUR COVER: Sergio Cariello, himself a comic book professional who graduated the Kubert School, expertly delineates a pastiche of Joe Kubert’s iconic Our Army at War #220 [June 1970] cover, no doubt itself a sly homage by Joe to his beloved caveman creation, Tor. Colors by Tom Ziuko, who recaptured the startling orange/blue color motif! Thanks to Sergio and Tom.

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by CHRISTOPHER IRVING CBC Contributing Editor

Joe Kubert stood up from the art table in his office at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, a warm and bright room with a long table in the center, and framed artwork of Joe’s on the far wall. On the wall alongside the door, and to the left, is a flat file, and Joe’s art table. Wearing a long-sleeved gray polo shirt and blue jeans, Joe Kubert’s youthfulness belied his age of 82.

This was an early Spring day in 2009 and I arrived to finally interview Kubert in person, unlike the several times I’d chatted with him through a telephone receiver over the years. The man had a presence. And not just physical, but authorita-tive, yet kindly.

It was a presence on par with the authority and power of his work, work that started at 12 years of age in 1938 that went from awkward to masterful. The older Joe Kubert got, the better his work became: something rare in even old comics masters, and still on display in his final work done for DC Comics, published posthumously in Joe Kubert Presents and, to a point, his inks on the Before Watchmen: Nite Owl comics drawn with his son Andy.

This profile takes my essay from that recent spring day and merges with past talks with Joe to give a glimpse at the man and artist.

Joe Kubert’s parents and sister tried to flee Poland in 1926, but his mother, pregnant with Joe, was denied passage. Only after Joe’s birth were they able to board and steam for the American shore, thus avoiding the rise of the Third Reich. Settling in the Lower East Side of Brooklyn, Joe’s father became a local butcher, while Joe and his sister grew up during the Great Depression in one of New York’s toughest neighborhoods.

“I think that people now have a difficulty understanding what was going on at that time, compared to today,” Joe explained. “It was a simpler time, money was more difficult to come by, values were quite different, there were less people around, but competition was heavier… It’s like trying to describe what’s going on on Mars. It was a different world.”

The world of Jew Gangster, Kubert’s 2005 graphic novel based on that other-worldly childhood environment, follows the initiation of a teenager into the world

of organized crime, eager to make something of him-self to provide for his family… no matter the cost to his conscience or soul. Kubert admitted the family in the book was “closely aligned” to his own, and a departure point for the more dangerous child-hood that he might have had.

“In fact, in the neighborhood where I grew up, it was not unusual to see who would be

considered a crime figure today, walking around and looked at in terms of being a kind of hero,” Kubert reflected. “Here was somebody who, through his own

endeavors and efforts (what was described by other civilians) had the guts to go ahead and

do what it was he felt he had to do in order to make a buck. Everybody else would have loved to do the same thing to make that kind of an income, but were never willing to overstep the bounds for whatever reason.”

I asked him if he was ever tempted to overstep those bounds, and there was an awkward pause. For a fleeting second, I reminded myself that even in his octoge-narian years, Joe Kubert could probably still kick my 32-year-old butt.

“Not really,” he answered, breaking the silence. “But the question is a pro-vocative one, and I’m not sure if you really expect me to answer that honestly.”

The tense moment gave way to a laugh, and he went into a story that has stayed with him since he was a kid:

“But what it provokes right now is that I think of the reasons a lot of us stayed straight. Some of my friends ran into a lot of problems, in terms of the law and so forth, and it wasn’t a difficult thing to do. I was lucky in the fact that my parents were strict when it came to stuff like that, I recall, when I was six- or seven-years-old.

“When people bought newspapers, they’d put the pennies on the newsstand, take the newspaper, and just walk away. One time, I took the pennies off the news-stand and put them in my pocket. I was with my kid sister, who was three years younger than I, and the moment we walked into my father’s store (my father owned a butcher store at the time), she told my father I took the pennies off of the stand. She immediately reported it to my father. My father, who was quite a disciplinarian, instead of making a big to-do about it, took me by the hand and walked me back to the newsstand, and made me give the pennies to the owner. I was mortified. That was quite a lesson to me, but that was the kind of thing that happened, and one of the things that kept me straight. It was not because I wasn’t tempted, but because that’s how it

worked out.“Another thing was that I was occupied,

10 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Making His Mark: A Visit with Joe KubertChristopher Irving interviews the comic book creator on a life well lived

Inset right: Courtesy of Bill Schelly and the Kubert family, a

detail of Joe dressed in top hat and tails for his bar mitzvah party. Yes, by the time he was 13, Joe was a

professional comic book artist

This piece, our opening article for this special Joe Kubert tribute, is by Ye Ed’s friend and confidante,

Christopher Irving, and it appeared in slightly different form in the Irving/

Seth Kushner tome, Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. The title was selected by

yours truly and it refers to Joe’s introduction to his masterpiece, Yossel: April 19, 1943, where he

wrote, “I started to draw as soon as I was old enough to hold anything that

would make a mark.”Back


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and drawing all of the time, and it helped me not get into a heck of a lot of trouble.”

Like a lot of kids during the Depression, Joe also had his nose in the daily comics that, back then carried a lot more weight and credibility than their staple-bound comic book counterparts. A look at a Depression-era comics section was populated with everything from Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, to Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theater, or especially Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy. It was a mixture of genres, styles, and artistic mastery by some of the greatest cartoonists to ever have lived.

“The newspaper strips at that time were really what everybody strove for,” Joe said. “Every artist that was work-ing for comic books was looking to do that. It was an adult media because it was read in the newspapers and used by the papers in a competitive effort to get readers, and it also paid a helluva lot better.”

Like all kids reading comics, he undoubtedly dreamed himself in his heroes’ shoes. That ability to transport himself into another time and situation is still at play in two of his more recent graphic novels: the aforementioned Jew Gang-ster and Yossel: April 19, 1943.

In Yossel, Kubert speculates what would have happened to him had his parents given up on coming to America after that first rejection during his mother’s pregnancy. What follows is the telling of a 15-year-old Kubert’s life, a poor boy gifted with the ability to draw his heroes on whatever scrap of paper he could find. Yossel transports Joe/Yossel and his family into the ghettos, with the specter of the concentration camps looming. Finally, orphaned, Yossel joins the resistance to fight the Nazis to the death. The artwork, like Yossel’s journey into manhood, remains incomplete, quick and loose pencil linework with even the artist’s guide lines still intact.

“I felt that the character himself, the kid, is evolving as an artist,” Kubert said.

Like his graphic novel’s much younger counterpart, Joe Kubert himself continues to evolve, styles changing from project to project. His apathy towards glorifying his past achievements, as well as his inability to look at artists aged 20-something to 80 as “new” or “old” — kept him as current an artist as his sons, Adam and Andy, despite the reverence of fans and professionals alike.

Kubert neither romanticized the past (“To try to analyze what was going on at the time?” he answers. “It never en-tered my head”) nor was he stuck there. His contemporaries were the ones now drawing comics and telling stories, and he was still right up there with them.

Kubert entered the young comic-book industry at a ten-der age himself, as super-heroes were starting to take hold and the medium was gaining its footing, thanks to an army of fledgling artists and their often unscrupulous publishers. One of these publishers, MLJ, started off with super-heroes and eventually gave way to a Henry Aldrich knock-off named Archie Andrews, rechristening themselves Archie Comics.

But on this early 1940s day, they were still a new publish-er known as MLJ (named after the founders: Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John Goldwater) and Joe himself was shiny and new to comics.

“Bob Montana, in fact, was just starting the Archie strip when I started coming up,” Joe recalled. “I was in junior high school, just getting out of eighth grade, before high school. I was living in Brooklyn at the time, Flatbush, and a friend of mine who I attended school with… the guys I hung with knew I drew and with kids, if you could draw, it was like magic. I was being kind of a magician. It was under those circumstances that one of my friends who said ‘I have a

Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Lucky Man


portrait by seth kushner

Joe Kubert portrait ©2013 Seth Kushner.

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an opportunity to show that I did improve over the years,” specu-

lated Joe. “For some weird reason, as a kid, the fact

that you don’t know any-thing… gives you the

courage to do things that, if you really

realized how bad you were, you

would have thought twice about it.

“It did give me an

opportu-nity, the second time around, to feel freer and more sure of myself.”

When “Sgt. Rock” debuted in Our Army at War, in 1959, written by Robert Kanigher, the visuals were

quickly taken over by Joe, and the two made him their signature character. Kanigher’s writing reflected his love of

haiku writing, as captions were broken over several panels to create a narrative tempo that accompanied the visual one engineered by Kubert: it was alchemy in comics, created by the team-up of a visual genius with a literary one. Kubert’s art took on a grit that reminded us, practically every story, that war was not to be glorified. There could be acts of valor and heroism, and Sgt. Rock reminded us that they always came at a price.

“My attitude in my job is that the person that I tried to please was not the audience, and not the editor I worked for: the person I tried to please was myself,” Kubert admitted. “I love to draw, and I love to do this kind of work as a comic book artist. Being a comic book artist is not the means for me to become a fine artist, or to become an illustrator or anything else, but to be a cartoonist. That’s what I love doing.

“If the stuff that I do gratifies me, it’ll be nice if it sells more books. I try to put together stuff that interests me, as far as the ideas and the thoughts that I have, and I try to put them down in a graphic form, hoping that people who look at my stuff get the same kind of kick looking at what I put down in graphics, that I enjoyed mentally and emotionally.”

In the late ’60s, artist Carmine Infantino rose to editorial power at DC Comics, and he recruited Kubert as one of his “artist-as-editors,” a move designed to keep DC visually on par with Marvel. For Joe, it was as much a training ground as his early days working for Shelly Mayer.

“I made a lot of mistakes, sure,” Joe admitted. “I know that I benefited by learning things, but they weren’t things I set out to learn. It was just a job, and I did it, that’s all. I think that time has separated and clarified this business of being a professional, instead of just doing the work. The guys that I worked with were my friends, and people that I worked with all of the time. Very often that became a problem, simply

14 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Top: The appeal of Joe Kubert’s vibrant art and engaging storytelling in “Hawkman” is obvious

in this Flash Comics #104 [Feb. 1949] spread. Above: Hawkman figure from the cover

of that same issue, the last of that ’40s title. Next page: Contributor Bill Schelly and Ye Ed

are not quite sure where this Hawkman and Hawkgirl image originally appeared, but there’s

a consensus that it was likely drawn by Joe Kubert in the late 1970s and appeared as a

poster, possibly for the European market.

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because I knew them so well that if they were late on a deadline, it was something that made difficulties for me. I knew they were just playing games, we all did. I’d done the same thing. We all knew what one another was doing.

“It was difficult separating and making it clear to my friends that were working with me, people that I had a great deal of respect for in terms of their abilities, to sit on them and tell them ‘Look, this isn’t a game now; this is for real. You’ve got to get the stuff in on time and, if you can’t, tell me. Our private relationship will remain the same and won’t be affected at all. But we can’t work together if you can’t get the stuff in on time.’ That was a rough lesson to learn.”

The editorial stint preceded next, even more long-lasting stage in Kubert’s career: the founding of the Joe Kubert School, in Dover, New Jersey. It all hearkened back to his days as a kid going from comics company to company, meet-ing as many of his creative heroes as possible.

“When I was a kid… the people who were in the busi-ness were very kind and would help you in many ways,” Joe said. “But when I talked to these guys, they told me what I needed to do, and so on. I always felt that if there was one place for someone who was seriously into this work to gather all of that information that would be a very good thing. I had the idea in the back of my head for a very long time, but that I would never be prepared to give up doing my own work for the sake of starting a school.

“About 30 years ago, our five kids were all out of the house and married [and moved out] and my wife, who was a graduate of a business school, would be at home. I said ‘Look, if we find a place locally (because I wouldn’t commute, I live in town, just five minutes away) where we

could start something like this, would you be ready to run the business end of it? If I had to run the business end, forget it, I don’t even want to discuss it.’

“I wasn’t looking for a substitute for my own career. If it were ever a question of running the school or doing my own work, the school would not exist. My wife felt that this was something that we could start. A piece of property came up for sale, a mansion not far from the house, and we started up the school.”

It all stemmed from Joe Kubert’s experience as an anxious kid with a battered portfolio of art — or a broom-pushing gopher — hanging out with established artists in the field.

“The school is really an extension of my experiences in trying to get my first jobs in the field of cartooning,” Joe said. “In the years that I’ve been in it, everybody that I’d met, all the pros, helped me in any which way they could. Every once in a while, when I came across a pro who was kind enough to give me some time, and most of them did.

“But, it was a hit and miss situation. I had felt that it would be great if those people who had the desire and the commitment to become professionals had a school where they could go to and come into contact with all of the people that they need in order to learn all of the aspects that it takes to become a cartoonist.

“I opened the school, not as a substitute for my career — I’ve always loved what I’ve done, and hopefully I’ll never have to stop doing what I do now — but I did feel that this was something that there was a need for. I’ve come across many young people who were not only desirous, but hungered to find out what they needed to know in order to become a professional cartoonist; they just didn’t know

16 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

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19Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Bill Schelly’s Top Ten Joe Kubert Comics

Expert Assessment

The Masterful Artist’s Boswell Picks the Best of the Best in Chronological Order

19Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor





“The Golem” [The Challenger #3, 1946] was Joe Kubert’s first important comics story, and presaged Jewish themes in his later, mature work.

The volcano cover to Tor Vol. 1 #3 [May 1954] is one of the most striking, brilliantly colored covers on any comic book from any era.

BILL SCHELLY, of course, is a notable early mem-ber of comics fandom, prominent historian of the fan scene, and is currently an associate editor of our sister magazine, Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego. Ye Ed points out Bill, naturally, because our pal is also the author of two superb books on the life and work of Joe Kubert, both published by Fantagraphics Books — 2008’s Man of Rock: A Biography of Joe Kubert and The Art of Joe Kubert [2011] — and

because my friend was enor-mously generous in sharing a bounty of Kubert material that did not make it into either tome. While he understand-ably begged off contributing to the issue in a substantial way — claiming utter fatigue with the subject — he did cotton to a suggestion to list his Top Ten Kubert works. Bill, Kubert lovers everywhere are very grateful for your tremendous contributions! Buy his books, peeps!

Tor TM & ©2013 Tell-A-Graphics, Inc., Adam Kubert, Andrew Kubert, Daniel Kubert, David Kubert and Lisa Zangara.






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[The following interview took place in Andy Kubert’s studio on a sunny Saturday morning — March 9, 2013 — at The Kubert School, in Dover, New Jersey. About seven months had come and gone since their father had died, but the pain of his passing was still very near the surface for the brothers, the youngest sons of Joe Kubert. Ye Ed was joined by friend and former Comic Book Artist as-sociate editor, Christopher L. Knowles, who himself was a graduate of The Kubert School. CbC is grateful to the Kubert men for taking time on a beautiful weekend and for being supportive of this tribute issue from its incep-tion. This interview was transcribed by Brian K. Morris and was copy-edited for accuracy and clarification by Adam and Andy. — JBC]

Comic Book Creator: We’re at the Kubert School with Adam and Andy Kubert. It’s 11:24 and here we go. So, how’s it going, guys?Andy Kubert: It’s going as well as can be expected. It’s going okay.Chris Knowles: What’s on the plate?Adam Kubert: Well, today, I woke up at five, [laughter] I got my daughter off me, put her back in her bed — and my daughter’s three. What’s on my plate? I’m currently working on an issue of Uncanny Avengers. And then, after that, Marvel has a big project lined up for me that I can’t talk about yet. It’s a secret project. I just re-signed with Marvel for another three years.Chris: Exclusive?Adam: Exclusive. And as far as what’s on my plate, drawing-wise, that’s it. Oh yeah, I’m also doing six covers of one of Marvel’s events. Just the covers. Besides that, the things that are going on at the school….Andy: You want to know what’s on my plate besides school stuff? What am I doing up at DC? I just wrapped an issue of Batman that’s coming out this week, #18. Scott Snyder’s writing it. There was a project I started in 2008, a project I wrote and drew, that I had to put down to work on various assignments: I did two issues of Batman with Neil Gaiman and then Flashpoint with Geoff Johns, and a whole bunch of other things. But I’m picking up that project again. It’s my first writing assignment. It’s a project that we are looking at putting out sometime this year. I think it’ll catch a lot of people’s attention. Hope-fully they’ll like it!Chris: Cool. Who’s inking?Andy: I am. I’m writing, penciling and inking it. I’m not lettering or coloring it. [laughter]CBC: Obviously, it’s a long time in the planning. Is this the culmination of an idea you had?Andy: It is from an idea I had and it’s a character that I really love. DC actually encouraged me to do it — “Why don’t you start writing? Why don’t you give it a shot?” And I always wanted to write, and this is an opportunity to do it.CBC: And how’s the experience of writing?Andy: At first, it was daunting. [laughs] I had to come up with the idea and present the idea to the editors to get it approved. There’s a couple of phases you have to

22 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Keepers of the Flame: Adam andTalking with Joe’s comic-book creator sons

Above: Adam (left) and Andy Kubert pose for Ye Ed in Andy’s studio at The Kubert School, during their interview at the Dover, N.J. art institution this past March.

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go through, including re-writes, that kind of thing. And it was all-new to me, but it was all interesting and I really enjoyed it. But I think that the toughest part for me is going to be the dialogue. That’s an art unto itself and I don’t have the experience, so I’ve got to work on that a bit. [chuckles] But I’ll figure it out.CBC: Who’s the editor in that?Andy: Mike Marts, and he was a big help in assisting me to put it together. It was great working with him on it. But, besides that, what else do I have going on? [mutual chuckling] I drew the cover to this year’s Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. I also just did a whole bunch of covers, Batman covers, just a whole lot of covers. Things like that.

One other thing that I do is, once a week, I go up to the DC offices and serve as a consul-tant on art, storytelling… anything they need.Chris: Now what do you do there? What does that include?Andy: I meet with the editors. If there’s any problems, if they see something that doesn’t work, storytelling-wise; something they have a problem with — anything — I go over it with them. We have meetings, literally all day, on that.CBC: About your work?Andy: It could be about mine or about whatever else they’re working on at that time.CBC: Are you a creative liaison or do you just make suggestions?Andy: I just make suggestions. It’s a consulting thing. Whatever they ask for help with. I like very much going up there and I like the people there. I get along great with them and there’s a nice camaraderie. I enjoy it a lot.CBC: Do you see an editorial capacity in the future for you, like your father?Andy: I have no idea where it’s going. It’s one day a week, right now, so it’s good for me. Besides that, I have the school and then I have my drawing work. I’m busy seven days a week, literally. Maybe eight days a week. [chuckling]CBC: Was your father’s passing as sudden to you both as it was to the comics community?Adam: Yes, it was. It was very sudden. He had been feeling tired for three days… well, he was going to an already-scheduled doctor’s appointment.Andy: Dad wasn’t feeling well, but he already had a doctor’s appointment, and if he hadn’t had that appointment, I was going to bring him, because he was feeling tired and wasn’t himself. He was usually a very energetic and outgoing guy, so we all noticed a slowdown. He never complained about anything. You had to ask, “Hey, you okay? Are you all right?” And he’d say, “I’ll be fine. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”

Anyway, we got him to the doctor and the doctor said, “Joe, we’re going to send you to the hospital emergency room.” So I went with him. We took him to Morristown Memo-rial. His doctor’s office is right across the street. He was in there for… [to Adam] how many weeks…?Adam: Three weeks. Between the time he was admitted and the time he passed away, it was a total of three weeks. When he went in there, they found things wrong with him. It started with him being very, very tired because of renal failure. Renal failure caused by multiple myeloma. Andy: That’s what the doctors eventually found out. Initially they couldn’t figure out what it was. Adam: Yeah, they didn’t know, at first. But his renal failure… this is how strong a guy he was: he had only one working kidney and it was functioning at five percent when he was admitted.Chris: Was this a tumor?Adam: No, it wasn’t a tumor; it was blood cancer. Myeloma is basically blood cancer.Andy: It affects kidneys.Adam: It affected his kidneys and, through that three week process and test after test, he went on to dialysis, did chemotherapy, and he had some heart issues. Prior to that, he had high-blood pressure.Andy: Right.Adam: So there were some heart issues with being in dialysis.Andy: He had the blood pressure under control, though.Adam: He couldn’t make it through a whole session of dialysis. It was difficult for him. It

23Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

The Kubert Legacy

Andy Kubert on Facing the Future on lessons learned and shared responsibility to ensure their father’s dream endures

Right: Courtesy of Ervin Rustemagic and his Strip Art Features (SAF), this photo of Joe Kubert was snapped during Joe and Muriel’s visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1990. It was here, in the walled city of Dubrovnik — the “Jewel of the Adriatic” — where Joe and Ervin conceive of their first publishing collaboration, the three- volume Abraham Stone. Ervin, of course, was the subject of Joe’s 1996 graphic novel Fax From Sarajevo.

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pretty much the whole office setup.Chris: How is the economic downturn been for the school?Adam: You know, we had some enrollment issues five or six years ago.Andy: And that kind of hit up at the same time as when our building was getting redone. We had to move the school out of this building and we had to find temporary housing for a year.CBC: Oh, yeah? Chris: Where was that? What did you guys do for that?Andy: Well, they moved the entire school and they built in-side a warehouse, which was over on Route 10 in Randolph.Adam: About a mile away.Andy: They built up walls and classrooms inside this huge warehouse.Chris: Did you have buses for the kids?Andy: Yes, they did have taxi buses from here.Adam: We did have a shuttle bus from here, but it just aligns itself with the economic downturn, but really, I don’t think the economic downturn had anything to do with the decreased enrollment. I think the move to the other building

— it took a lot of time, it took a lot of energy, trying to set things up. And some students weren’t happy with this, that, and the other thing.Chris: It affected morale. Adam: Right, it affected morale.Andy: It did affect morale. The building and classroom didn’t have the charm that this place has.Adam: It wasn’t optimal. Andy: Right.Adam: People were complaining it was cold, it was noisy, it was this or it was that.Andy: There was a big echo in there.Adam: Right.Andy: But this place [referring to the renovations at the permanent school] has a nice charm. It’s warm and has a comforting feel to it.Chris: Oh, it’s great. I’m just so impressed. It looks amazing.Adam: By the time we moved back in here three years ago, enrollment has been going up ever since.Andy: There’s renewed interest now. Enrollment’s really picking up. It’s picking up well.CBC: Did you have to cap enrollment?Andy: We have only so much space. So, yes, we do have to cap it.Chris: Do you guys do student interviews?Adam: Mike Chen does that.Andy: Mike Chen does all the interviews.Chris: Because your father did that, of course, 30 years ago.Andy: Way, way back when, he did.Adam: Though the last bunch of years, I don’t think he did it anymore. Mike’s been doing them forever so he knows exactly what to look for and who to let in.CBC: So, besides instructing, what are your specific responsibilities with the school?Andy: Running it; the day-to-day big decisions; whatever comes up.Adam: Whatever comes up, right.Andy: Whether you deal with student or teacher issues —Adam: Curriculum.Andy: Curriculum, advertising, financial stuff.Chris: So you guys are like the executives, basically. Like in a movie, you’d be the executive producer. You’re the boss.Adam: We’re steering the ship.Andy: Basically, that’s us.CBC: And did you learn how to do it?Andy: We’re learning as we go. [laughter] It is basically on-the-job training. But I’ve got to tell you, too, we couldn’t do it without the people who work here and the teachers. Ev-erybody who works here is integral to this place and without any one of them. I think we’d sink. They’re all so important. CBC: Can you specifically name some of the people?Andy: Sure. Carol Thomas, who’s absolutely invaluable. She’s awesome. Mike Chen, invaluable; Dorothy Morley, invaluable; Louise Gentile, invaluable.Adam: Mike Chechetti. [chuckles]Andy: Mike Chechetti, he’s also invaluable. He does all the maintenance, takes care of all the buildings. Anything that happens: if there’s a leak on the roof, he’s up there. He takes care of the snow, everything. What would I do without the guy? [laughter]Adam: You walk into this place or you go over to the man-sion, you walk around there, and I mean these places require a lot of maintenance, a lot of looking after.Chris: Yeah, the mansion’s old.Andy: Yeah, it is old. [laughs]Adam: It’s an old place, it’s a dormitory and it gets a lot of abuse, you know? But it’s still standing, it’s clean, and —Andy: It’s functional.Adam: It’s functional.Chris: How many dormitories do you now –? Do you still have the Carriage House?Adam: Yes.

28 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Above: Ouch! That’s gotta hurt, Lo-gan! Adam Kubert’s mind-blowing Wolverine #300 [Jan. 2012] cover (minus the logo, of course). Colors

by Laura Martin.

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Andy: We have the Carriage House and we have the Clin-ton Street House, a large multi-family house.Adam: Well, it’s a two-family house.Andy: That’s where we have the girls stay.Adam: That was actually completely gutted and redone because there was a flood. Insurance took care of that. But, you know, we’re constantly updating and improving and painting this and that. You have to because students live in there and they abuse everything. [Andy chuckles] Chris: You’re using all the rooms in the mansion for living space?Adam: The mansion’s full. Andy: Yeah, they’re all full.Adam: Everything is full.CBC: How many rooms? Roughly how many students?Adam: Roughly 20 in the mansion…?Andy: It’s more than that, I thought.Adam: Twenty-five?Andy: Yes.Adam: It depends on what day of the week it is.Andy: [Chuckles] I don’t know the exact number. Chris: Because I remember when I came in the front door of the mansion, underneath the carport. And I walked straight down the old — I don’t know if it was the Life Draw-ing Room — but I remember there was a classroom. But that room was not used for a living room, it was used just as like a lounge.Adam: Like a studio, yeah. It’s difficult to work in your room, so they set up the rooms downstairs as like a studio, their drawing tables are set up.CBC: How many hours a week does this place consume you guys?Adam: Too many. [Andy chuckles]CBC: We’re talking an average week devoted to your work and to the school. Andy: Well, as I told you before, I’m seven-days-a-week. With my three gigs — plus, I’m an executor of my parents’ estate — it’s a lot of work. It’s a real lot.Adam: I don’t work seven days a week.Andy: I do. [laughs]CBC: [To Andy] Are you a workaholic?Andy: [Sighs] I am with the drawing. I love the drawing. CBC: So you always want to get to the drawing when you’re doing other things?Andy: Oh, yes. I love the drawing. I do like the teaching a lot. I love the students. The feedback is great, but my first love is really the drawing. The administrating and all that other kind of stuff, that’s really a job. [chuckles] I do it. It’s okay and interesting.CBC: Do you see an end for that? Do you see like you’d like to hand over responsibility, delegate authority to others?Andy: I’ve gotta tell you, I think I’m a bit of a control freak. [laughs] I would like to sometimes, and some things I do want to turn over, but right now, I don’t know. I like doing things myself and make sure things a done a certain way and that’s why I do it.Chris: How do you guys adapt to people working pro-grams like Manga Studio and things like that? I mean are you teaching that or is that just something that people can discover for themselves? You know, there’s a lot of digital programs now.Andy: Well, for me, the way I teach is the way I was taught and that’s the way my father taught me. I don’t know what the Manga Studio is. Is that like an assembly line type of thing?Chris: No, Manga Studio is basically Photoshop for doing comics.Andy: Oh, you’re talking about a computer program. Chris: Yes.Andy: No, I just teach — I don’t know, you want to call that... Chris: Good old school pen-&-paper art.CBC: And here we are.

Andy: It’s just old school narrative art and how to break down a script into sequential form. And I teach it just exactly the way my father taught me.Adam: In addition to that, we teach the traditional way of doing things. We also touch on and teach all the computer programs.Andy: We have computer classes and we have instructors who teach them.Chris: Illustrator and Photoshop?Andy: Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, I think.Adam: Yeah. But really, the approach that we take is you have to learn the traditional way to do things before you can jump ahead to the more modern techniques. You have to learn how to actually paint before you can paint using Photoshop. You have to learn hand-lettering, before doing it on computer.Chris: Ames Guide.Adam: Ames Guide. Because, even though it may be only a two-week lesson, you’ve gotta have some experience on hand-lettering before you jump to the computer. Spacing a balloon for lettering is still really critical and you can’t do

29Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Above: Andy’s evocative Batman #655 [Sept. 2006] cover sans trade dress. Colors by Dave Stewart.

TM & © DC Comics.

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And once you get out of here, we want you to make a living. Everybody struggles at one point or another, but we’re trying to give you the tools so you know, for instance, “This is what a contract is.” We also teach the business of art. You could be the best artist in the world, but if you don’t follow whether you’ve been paid or not, and your bills don’t get paid, guess what? Things are gonna tank.CBC: I have been noticing the Joe Kubert stamp on any number of original art that I’ve been seeing lately. Is the art store itself a profitable part of the business here?Andy: My wife, Theresa, runs the art store and she’s been doing so since 1986, ’87, so she’s been doing it for a while. Yeah, she’s been doing it for a long time. CBC: Yeah? Wow.Chris: I told you my wife went to this school, and we’ve been going to the store since we left the school. [To Andy] You can talk about the Joe Kubert blueline boards.Andy: Well, those started out when my father started up the correspondence courses and we had pre-printed, two-ply Bristol board with his little “head” logo on them. We had brushes and ink, and all that kind of stuff, and that’s where that came from. We still sell it. Strathmore two-ply, it’s great paper. I use it to draw Batman.Adam: Neal Adams buys it.Andy: Yes, Neal does buy it.CBC: I was just looking at his original art at Continuity and your dad’s cartoon head was all over it.Chris: Does the store do a lot of mail order? You guys do a lot of work online?Andy: People can shop online.CBC: Is the correspondence course still going on?Adam: Yes.

Andy: It’s still ongoing. CBC: Do you guys handle it?Adam: No, my sister handles that.Andy: She handles that along with Ricky DeJesus, and we have teachers here do the critiques.Adam: Right.Andy: My father was doing all the critiques on it.Adam: Most of them.Andy: He was doing all of them. CBC: How many, roughly, correspondents would there be at any given time? Is it just hard to say? How many people are enrolled in the correspondence course? Hundreds?Adam: Oh, gosh, you’ll have to ask Lisa. I’m not even sure.Andy: Well, it’s been going on since, gosh… 1997, I think is when Dad put out the first ads and the first enrollments were in ’98? I would say thousands have gone through the lessons.CBC: Are you guys incorporated? [chuckles] I mean this is a real business!Adam: Well, we’re an S-Corporation.Andy: [Chuckles] We are a corporation.Adam: It sounds like we’re a little planet here. [laughter] Andy: Well, it is called the “World of Cartooning!” [more laughter] Chris: People would always bring up the fact that the School of Visual Arts is a cartoonist and illustrator school. But you guys really want to keep this focused on comics. Andy: That’s what we know. [chuckles] Adam: Well, yes. Andy and I have talked about this. We absolutely want to stay focused on comics. That’s the basis. But we can see this place going into other areas because we have the name recognition in this field and a reputation that goes worldwide. You know, I think a logical step could

Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

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33Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Top left, counterclockwise: Jeff Dahmer would, for attention and shock-value, impulsively fake epileptic fits, “spaz-out,”

be going into other areas of art, whether illustration — because illustration is also basically narrative. So those are basically things we’ve thought about. Chris: But you still want to keep it focused on comics.Adam: Absolutely, yes. Chris: Because you know there is, what is it, there’s a school in Georgia now that’s running a comics course?Andy: SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design.Adam: Right.Andy: They have a cartooning course.Chris: It seems more indy-oriented?Andy: Honestly, I’m not too sure. I really never looked into it. I know that it exists. My wife’s cousin went to school there and we actually walked around the campus, which is beauti-ful. But I never really checked out the courses at all.Adam: Well, they have beautiful colleges, beautiful campuses, but they do offer Narrative Art. There’s a number of places that offer bachelor’s degrees in Narrative Art. But we’re really the only one that concentrates on that one thing and it’s really a different animal. If you want to go have the whole college experience with fraternities, sororities, 5,000 to 30,000 students, the Kubert School is not the place. Andy: Yes, this is a very small school. CBC: And that’s one of its strengths?Adam: Yes.Andy: Very close, very niche.Adam: Tight-knit.CBC: Focus on comics, focus kids so you don’t have the distractions of college life.Adam: Andy and I know everybody in the school. We know what everybody’s doing, we have frequent teachers meetings, so we know where everybody is at, who’s fallen a

little bit, we know everything that’s going on. That’s the way we like it.CBC: Do you do annuals of student work?Andy: What do you mean, “annuals”?CBC: Collections of kids’ portfolios, part of their final pre-sentation? Will Eisner did it with his SVA Gallery.Andy: No, we don’t do that. Sometimes the kids put together things up by themselves, but they do put together their own portfolios at the end of the year.CBC: So you don’t have any annual collection?Adam: Not really, but one of the assignments that I give to students, that they have to put together, basically, a promo piece of their own character in a comic-book format. These days that you can have something one-off printed that looks exactly like a comic on the stands. So, this is for themselves. It’s not like an anthology, if that’s what you’re talking about.CBC: You guys have connections with Marvel and DC and the whole professional sphere.Adam: Uh-huh.CBC: Is there any entrée your students have? Is there any advantage they have with that Kubert name?Andy: I would think you’d have to ask them. [laughs]CBC: Do they get a chance to go up to DC and show their stuff ?Chris: Are you talking more like a placement kind of ar-rangement?CBC: Not placement so much as exposure to the editors and exposure to the graduate’s work.Adam: Andy works up at DC. He looks to get the gradu-ates employment there whenever possible. I work at Marvel. [laughter]CBC: Yeah, so do you share samples of these guys’ work?

Previous page & above: Let’s face it: any feature discussing Joe Kubert the family man cannot resist the temptation to feature images from the artist’s “Secret Lives of Joe Kubert” edition of DC Special, #5 [Oct.–Dec. 1969]. Here’s the opening four-page strip, reproduced from Ye Ed’s copy, of which page three sports autographs by Joe, Adam and Andy. The cover can be found on page five. Previous page, lower left: It looks to yours truly that the Kubert caricature illustrating the opening spread of “The Celebrated Mr. K: Joe Kubert” interview by Guy Lillian III (Amazing World of DC Comics #1 [July 1974]), is merely a detail reprinted from the final panel of the DC Special #5, though with a sketched facial hair added on to acknowledge Joe’s then-new beard. Will we ever learn if Mr. Kubert actually was the one who added that face fur...? Any former Woodchucks willing to spill the beans?

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Conducted by JON B. COOKE CBC Editor

Between 2002 and ’07, Ye Ed and his brother Andrew D. Cooke compiled — with an able team of filmmakers — a full-length feature film documentary on the life of one of the greatest comic book creators of them all, Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007. On August 19, 2006, a most brilliant, clear and sunny Saturday morning, Joe Kubert consented to a filmed interview at The Kubert School to discuss his upbring-ing, graphic novels, Jews in comics, and his friend and colleague Will Eisner in particular. What follows is a tran-scription of that talk, obtained with the tremendous help of the movie’s editor and executive producer Kris Schackman and transcribed in record time by Steven “Flash” Thompson, Andrew added his own questions to the discussion.

Comic Book Creator: Where were you born, Joe?Joe Kubert: Poland.CBC: Whereabouts?Joe: Southeastern section of Poland. A town called Yzeran.CBC: When did you move to the United States?Joe: I was brought to the United States when I was two months old. In fact, my mother and father had come to Southampton, in England, in preparation to be coming to the United States. However she was pregnant at the time, with me. They would not permit her to come on the boat. She had to go back home, to the small town in Poland, give birth to me, and then came to the United States.CBC: A true bundle of joy.Joe: A bundle of… whatever. [laughs]CBC: Where did you grow up?Joe: I grew up in East New York, in Brooklyn, and the rea-son was, of course, that my mother’s family were residents there. They met us. They met my mother, my father, my older sister and myself at the boat and brought us home. Their

home was in East New York. In Brooklyn.CBC: How would you char-acterize the neighborhood where you grew up?Joe: Well, the neighbor-hood at that time in East New York was, I guess, great as far as I’m concerned. As far as I was concerned as a young kid, it was fine. I had a bunch of friends that I hung with, used to play a lot of ball… Things were good. It was during the Depression, the early days of the Depres-sion. I don’t ever remember being hungry. I don’t ever remember being poor. It was fine. CBC: What was the ethnic makeup of that area?Joe: The ethnic makeup of that area was essentially Jewish. I think that there

was a tendency for most people who came to any of the areas to move in with those people with whom they felt the most comfortable. So there were Italian neighborhoods, there were Jewish neighborhoods, there were black neigh-borhoods, and so on. CBC: What was the economic situation in your family dur-ing the mid-’30s?Joe: Well, the economic situation, in retrospect, was not too hot. In the late ’20s and the early ’30s, it was very, very difficult to make a buck. I guess that’s probably where I was most fortunate because, despite the fact that a primary purpose in all families to make sure that the kids would be able to make a living was to get them an education where they could become a doctor or a lawyer or a mechanic or a carpenter or anything that you could make a buck at. But to draw pictures? [laughs] That’s nuts! ’Cause you’ll never be able to make a living drawing crazy pictures. Yet my father, and what I mean when I say I was lucky, both my father and mother recognized the fact that I loved to draw from the time I was a kid! They always encouraged me. They always helped me and did everything that they could to make sure that I did that which they recognized I loved the most.CBC: Specifically, what did you want to do for a living, for a career as a youngster?Joe: Well, the idea of making money at what I was doing was probably as far removed from my conscious as I can imagine. I started drawing when I was two years old. I used to draw with chalk in the gutters. It was macadam, smooth macadam, and it took chalk beautifully. It’s been my experi-ence that anybody who can draw is looked upon almost as a magician so that, when a young kid of three or four was drawing pictures, all the neighbors would come out and look at the stuff that was being done, buy more penny chalk with which to draw! But the idea of making a livelihood at it was completely and totally remote. It was only later on when I

40 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

The Making of a Master of Sequential ArtYe Ed’s 2006 interview with Joe Kubert for the Will Eisner film documentary

Above: In mid-summer 2006, Ye Ed and his brother Andrew D. Cooke, soundman/editor Kris Schackman, and cameraman Ben Tudhope vis-

ited The Kubert School to interview Joe for their full-length feature film

documentary, Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist. Here’s a

screenshot of Joe in the movie. A transcript of that talk follows.

Below: Will Eisner’s “Shop Talk” segment featuring his 1982 chat with his one-time employee Joe

Kubert was published in Will Eisner’s Spirit Magazine #40 [Apr.

’83] and the actual audio recording of the talk is featured as an extra — along with all of Will’s “Shop Talk” interviews with fellow pro-

fessionals — on Ye Ed and Andy’s WE:POASA DVD and Blu-ray.

Screenshot is ©2013 Sequential Artist LLC.

Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist ©

2013 Sequential Artist LLC. The distinctive Will Eisner signature is a tradem

ark of Will Eisner Studios, Inc.

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was going to junior high school, just fin-ishing grammar school, from the eighth grade to the ninth grade, comic books were staring to come out. I always loved the comic strips in the newspaper. I never thought of the probability or possibility of my doing that kind of work. I didn’t know what it was about. [laughs] I didn’t know how you made that kind of transition from drawing in the gutters to drawing for the newspapers.

But, pre-high school, I happened to come across some friends of mine whose relatives were involved with MLJ, the precursors of Archie Comics. This is when comic books started to come out in the late ’30s, early ’40s. And they saw the drawings I was doing. As I said before, the fact that you could draw is looked upon by others as a piece of magic. It’s… just drawing pictures. That’s all! [laughs] And this friend of mine with whom I went to school said to me, “Well, you know, Joe, my uncle (or cousin) is involved in this business. Why don’t you take some of your drawings up and show him? Maybe you could get a job doing it.” Well, at the age of 11 or 12, I said, “Why not?” I put a bunch of drawings that I had done on pencil, paper, stuck it into a batch of newspa-pers and with a nickel took a subway into New York from east New York, went up to Canal Street, where MLJ was located and brought ’em up and showed ’em my work.

That’s what started me. ’Cause the guys up there were so kind, were so helpful. I knew nothing about the mate-rial to be used. I knew nothing about the paper or ink or anything like that. [laughs] And they gave me the paper. They gave me the paper with which to work. They gave me the brushes, the ink, the pencil. They showed me the size of the paper that it should be, which is larger, of course, than the printed material. And it was from that time on that I knew this was what I wanted to do. I can still, to this day, remember the smell of that place when I went in there. It was a dusty… There was paper, there was ink, there was erasings… It was all of those things mixed up together and I can still recall that smell!CBC: Can you describe specifically what a shop looked like?Joe: Well, the first shop that I’d gone up to was, of course, MLJ as I’d mentioned. [laughs] I’ll never forget it. It was on probably the third or fourth floor of a building that faced Canal Street. When you came in, there was a low railing about three or four feet high, and beyond that railing were the guys who were working, lined up against the window at their art tables. And again, as I had mentioned before, they allowed

41Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

From Comics To Graphic Novels

Above: Centerspread from Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-29 [1974]. A six-foot enlargement of this double-page spread adorns Joe Kubert’s school office-slash-studio wall. Tarzan, of course, was a favorite of Joe’s and his comic-book adaptations remains virtually unequaled.

Tarzan TM &

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me to come in. They allowed me to see the work that they were doing, pointed out what I should be looking for and so on. So that was the first shop that I had seen. I worked up at Iger’s place, Jerry Iger’s. I worked up there for some time. That was perhaps during a summer or after school or whatever. I was still starting high school! And then working up at Will [Eisner]’s place. At Will’s place I was hired… I saw Will perhaps once [laughs] the whole time I was there! But the other guys, again, were so kind to me. I worked during the summer. I did the work up there… Work. [laughs] I swept up the place, I erased the pages of the other artists. But it gave me a chance to really learn what the whole business was about. CBC: That’s great. Can you tell us when you first met Will and of the personalities that were within his studio?Joe: As I mentioned, my first meeting with Will was rather quick and I can hardly recall the exact time. The setup in Tudor City which was where Will had his production setup was actually an apartment — initially an apartment — that he converted into a studio so that he had one room, I guess which would’ve been the bedroom or something like that and the living room or dining room area were made up by the company of other guys who were working — Tex Blaisdell, Bob Powell, Nick Cardy, other guys who were working up at the place there. Will was in that separate room by himself so the chances that I had to talk to him were kind of limited. [chuckles] He was kind of busy. He was working. But all the

other guys were just terrific as was Will whenever he had a chance to come by and maybe take a look at what I was doing. Of course, I did do some backup pages in The Spirit magazine, like a half-page filler or something like that. The guys were great with me. CBC: Can you specifically remember those back pages fillers? What were they?Joe: Oh, God. I can’t recall specifically the subject matter of the half-page things that I did. I just can’t recall.CBC: Were they bigfoot or were they adventure or… ?Joe: No, they weren’t bigfoot. I don’t remember. I really don’t remember.CBC: Was that your first published work?Joe: Come to think of it, it was. Yeah. Yeah. It was my first published work.CBC: Are you trying to hide it?Joe: [Laughs] I would burn it! Throw it in the fire right now! That’s true of most of the stuff I did at that time.CBC: I read an interview that you and Will did together — the Shop Talk you did together — and you lamented in the interview that incoming comic book artists learned from comic books but that in your day, because comic books were so new for instance, there was a greater tapestry that they drew their inspirations from. Can you discuss that?Joe: Well, I can certainly comment on that. The fact of the matter is, most people who are currently in comic books, and I think is a negative for them… I shouldn’t say “most”… I would say a good number of the people who are in comic books today have learned to do comic book work from other comic book artists. And what they’re doing under those circumstances is learning from someone who has already made changes from normal drawing and is giving his own rendition of what he thinks a figure should look like, his own exaggerations of what compositions and figures should be… and if somebody’s trying to learn from that, they again will take another step to make revisions in terms of exaggera-tions.

In other words, they’re pulling themselves away more and more from what the actualities are in terms of figure drawing, anatomy, proportion, perspective, storytelling, and all those other things. The guys who came in early into the business were those, first of all, who were ashamed to say they were even working in comic books. This was complete-ly and totally a junk medium. But at that time, magazines like Collier’s and Saturday Evening Post, who had the top illustra-tors and artists working for them, were slowly being phased out and other kinds of publications were coming to the fore so that the artists — some of them — were really looking desperately for work. One of the places that they could pick up work — easy stuff! — was in comic books. They thought easy stuff! Those people who came from the higher institu-tions of advertising, coming into comic books, would never

42 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Above: Courtesy of Gianfranco Goria, a photo of Joe Kubert and

Will Eisner at the 1998 Lucca comics festival, where the friends

were guests of honor at the annual gathering, the third largest comics

festival in the world.

Below: For each installment of Will Eisner’s “Shop Talk” feature,

a “jam” header was used featuring self-caricatures of interviewer and subject. Here’s the Eisner/Kubert collaboration from Will

Eisner’s Spirit Magazine #40 [Apr. ’83]. Note the addition of a broom by Joe, no doubt a visual

reminder that he started off in comics sweeping the floor of Will’s Stamford, Conn. studio in the early ’40s. Courtesy of Robert Yeremian

and The Time Capsule.


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Sgt. Rock TM & © DC Comics. Spider-Man ©2013 Marvel Characters, Inc. Tarzan TM & ©2013 ERB, Inc. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide ©2013 Gemstone Publishing.Sgt. Rock TM & © DC Comics. Spider-Man ©2013 Marvel Characters, Inc. Tarzan TM & ©2013 ERB, Inc. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide ©2013 Gemstone Publishing.

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Postscript to Fax from Sarajevo

War’s Aftermath

Ervin Rustemagic, the real-life protagonist of Kubert’s book, talks of life since the war

Editor’s note: Fax from Sarajevo, Joe Kubert’s ground-breaking 1996 book, is less a graphic novel and more a journalistic long-form comic book story de-picting real-life events of the early 1990s: the struggle of Ervin Rustemagic and his family during the Bosnian War. Winner of the Eisner and Harvey awards for best graphic novel/album, the 207-page tome follows Ervin — Joe’s European art agent, business partner and friend — as he fights to stay alive in the hell-hole that was the Siege of Sarajevo and to reconnect with his family: Wife Edina, daughter Maja (pronounced mah-yah) and son Edvin. The story ends, now almost 20 years ago, with mother and children flying out of Sarajevo, bound to reunite with father. Ervin, who was exceedingly generous with CBC in sharing Joe Kubert material from the archives of his company, Strip Art Fea-tures, graciously offered to tell, in words and photos, what’s happened since to the Rustemagic family and about visits by Joe & Muriel Kubert…

After the U.S. military aircraft The Kentucky Air Guard has flown them from the siege of Sarajevo to Split, in Croatia, on Sept. 25, 1993, the Rustemagic family settled in Slovenia. On Dec. 24 of that year, they moved into a house they bought in Celje. The photo [above right] was taken in their house’s garden in early spring 1994. Maja was 11 years old and Edvin was 6. Edina, who is a professor of philosophy couldn’t work in Slovenia in her profes-sion due to the language barrier, but she had to devote most of her time in raising Maja and Edvin and helping them come over the stress and trauma which they were experiencing for 18 months in the Bosnian war.

Joe and Muriel Kubert were among the first friends who visited them in Slovenia. It was only then Joe told Ervin about plans to do Fax from Sarajevo.

Bottom left: From left, Muriel Kubert, Ervin Rustemagic and Joe Kubert during the couples visit to the Rustemagics in Slovenia in Spring 1994. Bottom right: Joe drawing for Maja, while Edvin patiently waits his turn.

63Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor





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The Wizard Remembers Joe


Artist Frank “Red Sonja” Thorne reminisces about his beloved old friend and editor [If us comic book fans didn’t know better, we’d think that artist Frank Thorne was a prodigy of Joe Kubert, blessed as he is with a gritty, organic art style that seemed cut from the same cloth as Joe’s. But the Rahway, New Jersey-borne artist had a bit of comic book experience prior to joining Joe’s stable of freelancers in 1969 — think Gold Key’s Mighty Samson — and Frank also spent time as comic strip artist and worked as a commercial artist in the 1950s and ’60s. But Frank did start coming very much into his own under the guidance of Joe, who edited much of his DC work, and Frank has always expressed gratitude for the friendship and sup-port he received from his former editor. Ye Ed spoke with the artist on April 6 and the interview was transcribed by Steven “Flash” Thompson. — JBC.]

Frank Thorne: I read the obituary of Carmine Infantino this morning. These are guys of my generation.Comic Book Creator: I know… Frank: Those two good great ones: Infantino… but Joe… What can I tell ya? What can I tell ya?! [laughs] What would you like to know?CBC: When you were going to… what was it called? The Art Career School?Frank: Yes. That was at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue. The Flatiron Building. It was the penthouse of the Flatiron Build-ing.CBC: And what was your experience there? Were you focusing on cartooning?Frank: Down the street was the Cartoonist and Illustra-tor’s School, where the School of Visual Arts originated and morphed into its present sprawling… I think it’s the biggest art school in the world or something at this point! But our career school was more nuts and bolts. The people who guided me there felt that — and I agreed — that if I had a basic commercial art training if I didn’t make it in the comics, I could always turn to commercial art. Personally, I didn’t have to do that. And so it was a pleasant experience. CBC: Were you a comics fan as a kid?Frank: Yes, indeed. “The Atom” was one of my favorites. Wasn’t too much for the super-heroes. Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and the ladies running around in their minimal outfits appealed to me.CBC: [Chuckles] We can see that.Frank: I really had never been that interested in comic books. I just wanted to draw and write, and that seemed to be the place to start.CBC: So, was it more comic strips that you wanted to do?Frank: Yes. Flash Gordon. Al Williamson, Hal Foster — they were the heroes of those days. So I started copying Alex Raymond and left that style — still struggling to find some-thing. [laughter]CBC: When were you first cognizant of Joe Kubert?Frank: Oh, early on. After you get a trained eye, a couple of years at it, you can pick out the really super-talents and early on I could see that. I didn’t meet him until much later. I think it was in the ’70s. He was the editor for the war books — he and Kanigher — and they had “Enemy Ace” and “Sgt. Rock,” and a whole roster… “Hawkman”! Fantastic! His “Hawkman” was unbelievable! [laughs]CBC: Do you remember the early work you saw of Joe’s before you met him? Was it his Tor?

Frank: I’d seen Tor, yes. I’d seen the 3-D comic he and Norman Maurer worked on. Norman Maurer was his good buddy and they set out as young men to start a whole new thing in 3-D comics. Which [chuckles] didn’t work out. Nor-man Maurer was the son-in-law of one of the Three Stooges and that always provided a humorous note. [chuckles] And Joe said that Norman was better than him! But Norman left to oversee the Three Stooges, and produce their movies and work with them. And Joe drifted towards the school. He was talking about starting a school way back when! So did John Buscema. That’s what he wanted to do, a mail order art school. I don’t know. Did that ever happen do you suppose?CBC: With Buscema? No, I don’t believe it did. But Joe did start a correspondence course about 12 years ago. Did you, early on, get the Perry Mason syndicated strip?Frank: Yes, I was like 21 years old. And they handed me the daily and the Sunday. Sylvan Byck at King Features — then it was in Manhattan, across from the Daily News building —

67Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Above: Exclusively for this Kubert tribute issue, Frank Thorne con-tributed this oil painting of Joe’s signature character, Sgt. Rock. Despite failing eyesight, Frank has re-invented himself as a painter in his octogenarian years. CBC is very grateful for Mr. Thorne’s enthusiastic support.

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Sylvan Byck saw all my swipes of Raymond. Must have been pretty good swipes because they gave me the Perry Mason strip to do, which I did for a couple of years. It’s a daunting task even for a young man, 20, 21, 22 years old, particularly when I was in the Special Service. It was during the Korean War, and I had to spend two weeks in the summer in training up at Camp Drum and go in every week to Manhattan to a meeting of the 306th Special Service, which was an entertain-ment group, and so I mustered out as a corporal. We already had two children and we went on to have three more.CBC: Five children! Special Services was in entertainment?Frank: Yes. I played the trumpet in the pit band. And also I designed the scenery for a traveling show we had called McGee. We went around to Army bases and performed it. John Cassavetes was one of our star players. And Joe Layton was the choreographer; he went on to glory. I think I was the only cartoonist in the outfit.CBC: Did you stay stateside or did you go overseas?Frank: Oh, God! If we ever went overseas… if we were to go to battle, North Korea woulda won! [laughter]CBC: How long did the Perry Mason strip last?

Frank: About two years, I think. Maybe a year-and-a-half. And then it really had become too much for me. Old Man Hearst dies and he and Erle Stanley Gardner were buddies, and when Hearst died, they cut the stuff off that Gardner was involved with and one of those was Perry Mason. But it didn’t become a TV thing for five years after that. So that really is back in the dark ages. I’m qualified to be a Golden Ager, I think because I was doing pulp magazine illustrations on the late ’40s and comics — not good, [Jon laughs] actu-ally dreadful. Joe started out earlier than I did. I started out at 18 — 17, 18 — but he was working at age 12!CBC: So you were from New Jersey? Did you travel up to New York to go to school? Frank: Yes. Oh, yes. Took the train from the railway station. But I seldom visited the publishers. It was all done by mail. Sometimes I’d go in just to touch base and see Stan Lee or just get myself a little bit, you know, involved with some of the people. The only thing I ever did for Marvel was Red Sonja, so that was ’75. Before that I was at DC. That’s how I encountered Joe and Kanigher, and all those great guys. [laughs] Kanigher is a fantastic writer of that stuff and Joe is a very, very good editor. He’s very easy to work with. He kept urging me to use different drawing implements. I was doing Speedball pens and matchsticks, Chinese water brush stuff and… It all sort of worked but I eventually drifted back. He was trying all sorts of things. I really was never consciously trying to… when I left Raymond’s style, it drifted toward Kubert, but I really didn’t know that. I guess I should give him credit. I think you can tell the difference. With the “Enemy Ace” I did, his was so much better!

Sam Glanzman was another big fan of Joe. He probably had a better take on those characters. Do you know Sam’s work?CBC: Oh, yes! Sam’s a friend of mine. Frank: He seems to be a lonely fellow. All of his stuff… Now they have the Joe Kubert Presents, the six-issue mini-series. Sam had a piece in there every issue. It’s all loneliness it seems. Is he married?CBC: Yes, he’s got Susie, his devoted spouse. He’s got a certain degree of melancholia but he is a very grateful guy. He’s just a very sweet guy.Frank: Uh-huh.CBC: He told me how delighted he was when Joe and Pete Carlsson from the school came up to visit him a couple of years ago. I mean, he was just really flattered by it.Frank: Mmm! Mmm!CBC: Just a grateful guy. What an amazing cartoonist.Frank: Yeah! But he seems worthy of more recognition than he’s gotten so far. He must be in his 70s, isn’t he?CBC: No, he’s 88.

Frank: Oh, my! He’s older than me. Wow! I didn’t know that. Wow. CBC: You went into comics after the syndicated strip and it was a better pace?Frank: Yes, but while I was in art school I was doing books for Standard Publishing and the pulp magazines. Then I did the illustrated history of Union County which, for some reason, Fantagraphics published. I did that when I was 19. It was a rather hefty volume.CBC: How did you fall into that?Frank: Well, I was thinkin’ it would be a good way to get to the place I wanted to be and the New York Journal-Ameri-can was running a history of New York, using photographs, line cuts, etchings… and I got the idea to use that format but make it like a comic-book page and do all the original drawings. It did very well for us. I was getting… Whoa! $25 a page! Back then that was like getting $200 a week! But the Perry Mason was, you know, almost $300 and at that stage, 1950, ’51, that was a lot of money. Today it would have been thousands or something. But when the strip… But why are we talkin’ about me? I wanna talk about Joe! [laughs] CBC: Here we go. Here we go! We’re movin’ into it! But I just want to get some context… Let’s say back into comic

68 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Above: Combining Frank Thorne's pencils and the inks of Joe Kubert

equals… kismet! This page of perfectly meshed original art, cour-

tesy of Heritage Auctions, is from the Tomahawk #124 [Sept.–Oct.

1969] story by writer Bob Kanigher, "The Valley of No Return."

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Last fall, when Comic Book Creator caught up with veteran cartoonist Irwin Hasen, he had just emerged

from the hospital a few days prior. Despite some setbacks, which had included a bout with pneumonia, the resilient Hasen at 94, retained a twinkle in his eye and a quick, suc-cinct wit. Of course, Irwin was a good friend of Joe Kubert,

sharing with his late compadre — and the legendary Alex Toth, for that matter — the distinction of having the same tremendously influential mentor during the 1940s (as well

as Irwin being a Kubert School instructor in its earliest days).A product of American comics’ Golden Age, when

immigrants and children of same filled the assembly line-ranks of the fast-emerging company specializing in producing a new product called comic books, the Jewish artist, now under the watchful eye of a nurse at his Upper East Side apartment, reflected back on his de-cades-long career, particularly his two most memorable

characters: an over-the-hill, wash up-cum-super-hero and a young, fresh-faced Italian kid.

Hasen admitted that running the latter, Dondi, a daily syndicated comic strip saga in the tradition of Little Orphan Annie, was a much smoother ship to steer than his ’40s comic-book assignments.

“With Dondi, it was easier,” Hasen explained. “I knew it was all about. I knew the kid.” With impish, staccato bursts of conversation often punctuated by a chuckle, Hasen recounted his tale.

Born on July 8, 1918, Hasen entered a nascent comic book industry in 1940 with barrels blazing, contributing to The Green Hornet and “The Fox.” A year later, the artist began working under aforementioned mentor, the seminal editor Sheldon Mayer, drawing features including “Green Lantern” and “The Flash,” and other super-hero features All-American Comics (sister imprint of DC Comics) raced to pump out in the wake of the massive success of DC’s Action Comics and Detective Comics. At DC, Bill Finger, co-creator of Detective’s breakout feature, “Batman,” had a hand in the inception of Hasen’s other trademark character.

“[Finger] created Wildcat with [Mayer],” Hasen ex-plained. “Sheldon was my best friend. He knew me before I got into comics. I worked in the fight business for a magazine called Bang magazine. I worked for him. After Bang maga-zine, I did gag cartoons and the painted covers.”

Mayer designated Hasen to become the first artist to interpret Wildcat, a grizzled pugilist in a catsuit; a sort of prototype of Marvel’s Wolverine. With Hasen on pencils, Wildcat first appeared in Sensation Comics #1 [Jan. 1942] as Ted Grant, a boxer entangled in the underworld who dons a costumed alias to go clear his name after he is framed. The character would go on to became a member of the vener-ated Justice Society of America, the Golden Age super-hero group Hasen would also render in the pages of All-Star Com-ics, another Mayer title.

“It was a good character,” Hasen said blithely of the feline crimefighter. “It was my milieu. I was raised in the fight business when I was a young kid.”

Comic books were not a bad way to earn some income. “It was a living at that time,” Hasen said, but the job didn’t last into the new decade. Yet, by 1955, the artist’s fortunes improved — dramatically.

Hasen’s marquee climbed to great heights as one-half (the other fraction being writer Gus Edson) of the team that crafted the long-running syndicated newspaper strip Dondi.

“Comic strips were eventually where I was going in my life,” Hasen said. “When I was six, I saw the greatest strip ever made: Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs. My parents came home with the newspaper, the World Telegraph. I loved the simplicity.”

Hasen admitted that drawing Dondi was much more facile than his comic book assignments.

72 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Irwin Hasen: The All-American CartoonistMichael Aushenker looks in on the beloved Golden Age artist and Dondi cartoonist

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“Yes, with Dondi, it was easier. I knew it was all about, I knew the kid,” Hasen repeated.

Working with their Chicago Tribune Syndicate editor, Moe Reilly, Edson and Hasen embarked on their Dondi adventure, and Reilly helped keep things together, as Hasen said he did not find Edson to be a most ethical collaborator.

Edson, Hasen explained, was a colorful man, to say the least. The cartoonist, who had worked on The Gumps strip for 24 years after creator Sidney Smith died, did whatever he wanted, including marrying characters in the strip who had already wedded to others years earlier during Smith’s tenure… and persisting even after sacks full of reader mail arrived at his syndicate pointing out continuity errors.

In the early ’50s, with future Academy Award-winning actor Martin Landau (Space: 1999, Ed Wood) as his assistant, Edson traveled through Europe participating in a National Cartoonists Society USO tour to entertain U.S. servicemen. It was after a visit to West Germany when an idea sparked in Edson’s head, a concept that would become Dondi.

“He sent me a drawing on Waldorf-Astoria stationary,” Hasen remembered. “When we get back to the States, this is the idea we had. I looked at it and I said to Gus, ‘Let’s do it!’”

The first strip made the newspaper on Sept. 25, 1955, and would continue for 31 years. In the first decade, Edson and Hasen occasionally butted heads, but Dondi proved a hit. Hasen received the NCS’s Reuben Award in 1961 and ’62 for his work. The duo were active and social within NCS circles, where Hasen developed new relationships. “My favorite friends were Walt Kelly and [sports cartoonist] Willard Mul-lin,” he said.

73Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Sheldon’s Other Boy

Previous page: Above is a detail from the cover of the first volume collecting Dondi, published in 2007 by Classic Comics Press. Bottom is a commission piece of the Justice Society of America, featuring characters our interview subject rendered under the tutelage of legendary comics editor Sheldon Mayer. Below: All-American Comics #40 [July 1942] cover by Hasen, featuring The Green Lantern and Doiby Dickles.

portrait by seth kushner

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[Russ Heath is a genuine legend in the comics field, begin-ning his career as a teenager doing stories during summer vacation for Holyoke Comics. He joined the Timely bullpen in 1948, drawing Western characters like Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid for several years. By the mid-’50s, he was working for E.C., St. John and DC Comics as well, drawing some of the best war, horror, Western and adventure stories of the day. In the ’60s, he worked on Sea Devils, “The Haunted

Tank,” “The War That Time Forgot,” and many other fea-tures, including a memorable stint on “Little Annie Fanny” for Playboy. In the late ’60s, with Joe Kubert as his editor, Russ began a six-year run on “Sgt. Rock,” and followed that with work for Marvel, Atlas and a notable stint at Warren. By the 1980s he was the artist on The Lone Ranger newspa-per strip and since then has made occasional forays on characters like the Punisher and Jonah Hex. This interview was conducted by phone on April 24, 2013. — R.A.]

Richard Arndt: Do you remember when you first met Joe Kubert?Russ Heath: Yes, it was during a time when comics work was sparse — everybody was trying to find work again. It was sort of between seasons for steady work, so to speak. I was hunting work and I went up to St. John and met a fellow named Norman Maurer. He and Joe Kubert were doing 3-D books together. Norman was in-terviewing me and I was about to break out my samples, and Joe walked in and said to Norman, “You don’t have to see his samples. He’s okay.” I thought that was quite a compliment. Rich: You did work for his caveman book, Tor, is that right?Russ: Yes, I did a couple of pin-up or information pages on dinosaurs, plus a bunch of backgrounds. It wasn’t all that many pages, but those were 3-D pages, so there was a lot of work involved. It was done on clear cels with a special ink that would adhere to the slippery cel. There were two cels for every panel because of the shifting of one color to another. It was a laborious process.Rich: That would have been in 1954. After that, of course, you were doing a lot of work for DC’s war comics, as was Kubert, but then in 1967, you took over the art chores for Kubert on one of his most notable co-creations — Sgt. Rock. He wasn’t the editor of the book at that time. In fact, I think he told me that he’d had to give up a lot of his DC work because he was very busy drawing the newspaper strip Tales of the Green Berets. It was only for seven or eight months that you drawing

“Rock” and then Kubert came back to do the strip for about a year before he became the editor of all the war books. Russ: Yeah, that sounds right. When I started the second set of “Sgt. Rock” stories, I didn’t get the feeling that I was the permanent artist, but it did seem to go on and on for a while. Rich: You did work on “Rock” pretty steady from mid-1969 to mid-’75, a good six years. Russ: I was also drawing “The Haunted Tank” at the same time, at least for a while, a good chunk of time. I think I drew “The Haunted Tank” for longer than some guys’ careers.Rich: That period of time, the early ’70s, was the time period I was reading “Sgt. Rock” as a steady book. Your artwork was much more prominent in my memory than even Kubert’s, although he certainly did all the covers and was a big part of that as well. The stories also improved so much during those years from the stories that had been appearing in the ’60s, even though the writer was the same guy — Bob Kanigher.Russ: That was probably Joe’s influence, or maybe it was just the times. Joe and I had a different way of working. I’d always wanted to be an illustrator, so everything on my pages was fully finished, even during the penciling, while Joe’s approach was more sketching and then inking over the

78 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Russ Heath: That Other Man of Rock


Rich Arndt’s chat with the brilliant artist on his work with — and for — Joe Kubert

Above: Russ Heath as photo-graphed by Lori Matsumoto. Our

Man Heath, by the by, will be the subject of our sixth issue, complete

with a career-spanning interview by Ye Ed and supplemented by CBC

amigo Rich Arndt, a lifesaver in nabbing this interview at the last

minute — and transcribing literally overnight! — for this issue! Lori,

by the way, shares that this pic was taken on Jan. 13, 2011, at Norm’s

Restaurant, in Van Nuys, California.

Right inset: Joe Kubert’s first issue as editor of G.I. Combat

[#130, June-July 1968] sported this humdinger of a Russ Heath cover

featuring the Heath-drawn peren-nial series “The Haunted Tank.”

©2013 Lori Matsumoto.

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Conducted by JON B. COOKE CBC Editor

[This special Kubert tribute issue was, it likely goes without saying, a pretty extensive undertaking. Ye Ed had to coor-dinate any number of aspects, particularly the testimonial section, where yours truly wrangled contributors to meet deadlines, etc., all the while maintaining his full-time job in advertising. It’s had its moments! But one uplifting constant was the pleasurable collaboration with our next interview subject, Peter Carlsson, who runs Tell-A-Graphics, the art production outfit in the basement of the Kubert School, which provides employment for students and alumni by producing the comics and illustrations of P*S magazine, among other jobs. Peter is also curator of the Joe Kubert art archives and was a friend of the late creator. He is also a die hard Kubert fan, as excited by Joe’s work now as when he was a funnybook reader back in the day. This interview was conducted by phone on Mar. 19, 2013, and was transcribed by Steven “Flash” Thompson. Peter copy-edited for clarity and accuracy.]

Comic Book Creator: What’s your general background, Peter?Peter Carlsson: I came to New Jersey in 1993 to go to the Kubert School. I went through all three years, graduated in ’96. After school, I worked part-time at the art store and part-time at Tell-A-Graphics. Then part-time in New York City at Mada Design, a graphic design company run by Stan Ma-daloni, a guy who went to the school, and his wife, Angela. I worked there for a year.

I don’t remember exactly how all this happened. I had met Adam while in school and ended up organizing his art files the summer after graduation and that, I think in part, led to Joe offering me a full-time job working in part at Tell-A-Graphics and also organizing the artwork he had in his office at the School and the artwork he had in his studio at the house. There were just piles upon piles of envelopes full of artwork. It had been organized at one time, but by the time I started much of it was in disarray. I spent a couple years going up there once or twice a week, organizing things, and getting a sense of what he had and putting together an inventory of his artwork.

CBC: Joe was known for keeping all of his work?Peter: Yes, he was, but my understanding is that he didn’t begin keeping the art until DC started returning it, which I think was in the early ’70s. Joe really didn’t have much from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, just an occasional piece, a cover or an interior page. But, starting in the early to mid-’70s, when DC started the policy of returning artwork, then he had most of that stuff. I wouldn’t say it was complete because he’d sold stuff and things sometimes disappeared, I guess. But he retained the vast majority of the art he did from the ’70s on. He lived in the same house that he built in the ’50s. The house had been there for almost 50 years, and he kept his studio in the house. He told me not moving is the reason he had cover sketches going all the way back to the 1950s. These were sketches he did and then he would write “com-pleted” and the date on the paper when he drew the actual cover. That’s one of my favorites: finding all these envelopes full of old sketches.CBC: Were there other surprises that you found in the archives? Rarities? Unique material you had never seen?Peter: Oh, yeah! All the Redeemer material that finally saw print in Joe Kubert Presents. Three issues penciled, inked, and lettered. Just sitting on a cupboard shelf! Pencils, very loose pencils, for a few pages from the fourth issue. A lot of notes and part of a cover painting he was gonna use, things like that. An issue of something called Centipede, which was based on an Atari game! You probably remember that video game.CBC: Yeah.Peter: DC published an Atari Force comic back in the mid-’80s — I think there might have been one or two other things that came out but for some reason… maybe sales, I don’t know — Joe’s Centipede story never saw print. He had all the originals.CBC: Wow. How big is the Centipede story? A full issue?Peter: I think it was between 17 and 20 pages.CBC: Wow.Peter: Yeah. No one’s seen it! Do you remember, in the ’80s, he did that Superman and the Demon story in DC Comics Presents?CBC: Oh, good heavens, that’s a beautiful issue!Peter: [Laughs] Well, I found the pencils to that! He redrew it! So there’s a whole issue of finished pencils, but then Joe decided, for whatever reason, he wasn’t gonna ink them. He actually redrew and inked the whole thing!CBC: Wow!Peter: Yeah, just weird stuff, stuff that I think you and I — and everybody reading this probably — would be interested in, but I don’t know who else would be.CBC: [Laughs] Who cares? [laughter] Obviously, you’re there. You’re mesmerized with the work. You’ve been there since... You’re going on 20 years now?Peter: No. Twenty years in New Jersey but I started work-ing for Joe full-time in ’97.CBC: Ninety-seven. All right, that’s still a few years, Pete. Joe was one of those rare artists who just always getting better. Always innovative, always pushing himself…Peter: Right.CBC: It’s just astonishing to see the arc of his work from the ’40s in these leaps and bounds of the evolution within his style up to the very end! I mean, he always held me rapt, you know?

82 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Day In & Day Out: Working with Joe Kubert

In the Trenches

Joe’s right-hand man Peter Carlsson talks about his friend and employer

Above: Joe Kubert (left) and his trusty Kubert School/Tell-A-Graph-

ics associate Peter Carlsson, in a photo taken at P.C.’s wedding on July 25, 2009. Courtesy of Peter.

Below: The Our Army at War cover by Joe Kubert that terrified

— and yet compelled — young Pete Carlsson, #270 [July ’74], his first memory of seeing his

future friend’s work.

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Peter: Oh, I totally agree. His style changed over time. It got, I guess, “coarser” maybe? I remember him mentioning how he wished he had a younger set of eyes on occasion just to be able to see the lines a little sharper. But, yeah, you could see that there was a simplification of between what he was working on last spring and the Tor stuff published by Epic, there’s a fineness to that line that he wasn’t doing any-more, but it didn’t matter because he was still able to grab you and not let you go. There’s the saying about opening up a Joe Kubert comic and suddenly find yourself reading it no matter where you start, no matter what the story was. You can’t help yourself! You just start reading.CBC: I’d never heard that before, but that’s absolutely true. Peter: Yeah. CBC: [Laughs] Completely captivated right from the word go! There’s a picture of me when I must be five or six years old and I’ve got a Joe Kubert comic in my lap! I remember Joe Kubert comics as a youngster! I don’t remember much else. In general, I can remember Richie Rich, I can remem-ber characters, but few artists at that age… But I remember Joe’s comic books.Peter: Yeah, I know what you mean. I didn’t read much of the war stuff. I don’t think my mom wanted me to, you know? But do you remember DC had those house ads that had like six or nine black-&-white thumbnail-sized covers? Back in the early ’70s? As a little kid looking at that and just trying to glean information from the cover images, get whatever I could out of looking at Joe’s covers… sometimes they would scare me. And I remember which one it was in particular. There was a drawing of a hand in the foreground and Sgt. Rock was gonna shoot some guy and somebody else in the background was like, “Ya can’t shoot him, Rock. It’d be mur-der!” And I was like, “Murder! Oh, my God!” [laughter]

But it pulled me in! It took me years to track down that comic. I think I know what you mean by comparing a Richie Rich comic and a Joe Kubert comic. Joe’s comics were so unique, they were like a line of comics unto its own. Remem-ber the treasury edition of The Bible? Or the oversized Tar-zan? Again, I’m thinking more back to when I was a kid, the stuff that was coming out in the ’70s, but… even though they were very different stories, they were Joe Kubert comics.CBC: I think that was a very exciting time and it was very exciting for Joe, too! Of course having the Tarzan franchise, you know, following up Hal Foster, Burne Hogarth, and Russ Manning, and doing these fantastic adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs stuff… But also the double-page splashes on pages two and three, and not being afraid to throw a full-page splash page in the middle of a particular fight scene between a jaguar and the Lord of the Jungle.Peter: Yeah, yeah! And you wonder how much of that was done because of expediency. [laughs] “Okay, I gotta get this issue done. I’m gonna put a splash page here.” But he was movin’ quick. He was movin’ fast and he was relying on instincts that he had built up over 30 years at that point! Thirty years of storytelling. So, like I said, a splash page in the middle of a fight scene? It worked despite the fact he probably did it to get it done because he had to move on to the next job. It still worked!CBC: He delivered! He absolutely delivered.Peter: He absolutely did.CBC: There’s really just something about him that I can’t just put my finger on. I talked to his sons and to so many people about it and that is that he never looked down at what he was doing. He always looked up! He always gave what-ever he was doing his absolute best. It seems to me that he never phoned a job in. I can’t find anything that Joe gave his

83Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Above: The Redeemer #1 spread, as colored by Ervin Rustemagic’s Strip Art Features [SAF], hues which differ from the art’s appear-ance in Joe Kubert Presents #2. Courtesy of Ervin.

©2013 the Estate of Joe Kubert.

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90 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute


The greatest joy for me while working on Enemy Ace/War Idyll (and there were many isolated and particular instances of pure unadulterated joy involved with that project) was meeting Joe Kubert. It’s hard to put down into words just what having met Joe Kubert means to me. I could wax eloquent about things that we all know about and associate with his work (i.e., his storytelling, line quality, composi-tional sense, the characters he worked on, etc., etc.) and I

might even get as far as talking about the energy of his work and the rest of all those high-falootin’ artist-type things before I finally break down and start slobbering with fanboy drool about particular issues of “Sgt. Rock,” Tarzan, “Haunted Tank,” “Enemy Ace,” and Tor! The fact is, there are so many virtues to Joe’s work that it’s easy to not talk about what a wonderful human being he is.

I began Enemy Ace for many reasons, a lot of them responsibly adult (i.e., an anti-war message, getting rid of my unresolved childhood fears and try to come to an adult understanding of Vietnam and on and on), but what I cannot lose sight of and what always stopped me in my tracks when I was riding on the subway or just sitting at home being shocked into immobility by the amount of work I had just shoved onto my back, was that this was Enemy Ace, a Joe Kubert character that I was working on! He was one of the reasons for my becom-ing an artist in the first place. And, every once in a while, whatever I was doing at the time on the Ace project went by the wayside because all I could do was sit there with this big sh*t-eating grin on my face, knowing that I was lucky enough to be playing with this character that made such a huge impression on me. It’s not something that you can take lightly, playing with someone else’s character. At least I couldn’t, because Kubert was bound to see this thing! Scary!

Joe’s work filled so much of my child-hood years. I would, literally, spend hours poring over his books. He tells a story so well. He drags me in and won’t let go. And Joe’s involvement with Enemy Ace/War Idyll was above and beyond the call of duty. He made many suggestions as to the direction of the story and the visual storytelling. His interest in my work on the book made all the difference. Knowing that he was behind it made me feel better about what I was doing with the character.

The wildest thing that happened was when Joe asked me to “teach” him to paint!

I was stunned when Joe first proposed the “lesson.” The idea scared the hell out of me. How do you tell someone whose work is, in no small way, the basis for most of what you do, that you have nothing to teach them? Someone who is a master of line, form, mass, composition, depth — and on and on — that they have everything they need and all that is lacking is just jumping into the paint and moving it around, getting the feel of how paint slips, slides, and drags on the paper? So, I wholeheartedly accepted, not because I really believed that I had anything to teach him, but for more selfish reasons: I wanted to see Joe draw! Man, that would be a dream come true!

It’s funny. I know that when I work at drawing and paint-ing it’s like struggling uphill with massive weights on my back. It’s as though I start from scratch and have to re-learn everything with each new piece. Nothing ever feels one hun-dred percent right, which is good, I know, because it keeps you working; but, when I see anyone else draw I’m still mesmerized by how easy and natural they make it look. I love to see the lines gliding out of the pen or pencil and watch it take shape on the page in the form of figures and places. It is totally magical and it makes me want to draw even more. Then, I sit down and remember how difficult it all is.

Joe’s drawings, especially, look so effortless. The spon-taneity (which, when controlled by someone who knows what they’re up to, is everything) in Joe’s work is the ultimate in controlled anarchy. He, like Caniff, Sickles, Toth, Jones, Tardi, and Hugo Pratt, shows that it’s not what you put in but what you leave out that’s important. And the spotting of those blacks! It was obvious from the start who was going to be doing the learning. Anyway, the chance to watch one of my heroes draw right in front of me was too much to resist!

As it happens, Scott Hampton was in town when Joe and I could finally nail down a date. That would make it that much more fun anyway. Scott and I have a great time when we get together. Half the time we can’t get anything done for all the laughing at rude jokes and sketching ’til the wee hours of the morning in our sketchbooks. So, I gathered up all my oil paints and my Crystal Clear with some inks and gouache and matte medium and brushes, and the kitchen sink and… Scott and I hit the highways out of New York bound for Dover, New Jersey. What a scam! Under the pretense of a painting class we were going to get to see Joe Kubert draw!

So we show up, two giddy fanboys trying to look like it’s an everyday thing to rub elbows and teach painting to Joe Kubert, lugging Hefty trash bags full of more paint supplies than any ten men could use in a year. Joe was his usual fun bear-of-a-guy self, and was he ever excited to learn how to watercolor.

Watercolor? Watercolor! I thought he wanted to do oils and maybe the Barron Storey layering technique. We didn’t even bring watercolors! Man, what a couple of mopes! So we stood there with our grins frozen on our faces, but kind of exaggerated now because we knew we’d goofed, and reas-sured him that we were rarin’ to get into the “watercolor” lesson (and picture our eyes, under knitted brows, on Joe, then on each other, switching back and forth like a couple of broken stoplights). We excused ourselves and stiff-legged it down to the Kubert School’s art store to get a “couple of things.”

George Pratt on Teaching the TeacherThe Enemy Ace/War Idyll writer/artist discusses instructing Joe Kubert in 1990

George Pratt is the writer/artist of the acclaimed 1991 graphic

novel Enemy Ace/War Idyll (covers below). We extend our gratitude to

George for his multitudinous contributions to this book.

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Rick Veitch: My Journey with Joe Kubert


The Year-One “Kubie” grad on his life’s sojourn accompanying a teacher and friendby RICK VEITCH

Since Joe Kubert passed away in August of 2012, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the times we shared and the profound influence he had on my life.

My journey with Joe began with my very first comic, pur-chased with my own money at the ripe age of eight. It was an early issue of Our Army at War and the lead story was “The Rock and the Wall!” In it, a sergeant named Rock and an infantryman named Wall engaged in a combat competi-tion to prove which was toughest: a rock or a wall? It was the kind of story that made perfect sense to a little kid.

But I was hypnotized by the art. That particular story was where Joe caught what would become the iconic look of the character: knotted brow, hawklike nose, penetrating eyes, and craggy unshaven jowls. Everyone and everything in the story was sculpted with lively, spontaneous pen lines, while lurking in every grimy shadow was an oozing abstract of pooled blacks; as evocative as any in Rorschach’s famous inkblots.

I began laboriously copying Joe’s panels into my own homemade comics. Things can get confusing when growing up, but I had one constant: in my secret heart of hearts I knew with deep certainty that I was a comic book artist. What I could never imagine is the important role the man who signed his name “Joe Kubert” would play in my attain-ing it professionally.

I was 25 when I met him. It was 1976 and I was interview-ing for Joe’s soon-to-open cartooning school. Knowing he was a Golden Age artist, I guess I expected an older gentle-man, but Joe was in his early 50s and looked like he was 35. He welcomed me warmly and spoke passionately about his hopes and plans for the school. He explained how fortunate he had been to come up under a studio system where older cartoonists had made time to teach him the tricks of the trade. His goal was to give back by keeping that tradition alive.

I was terrified that my portfolio wouldn’t make the grade, but when he saw the printed copy of Two-Fisted Zombies, he responded with grinning amazement. I tried to explain it was a couple years old and not my best stuff, and the content was a little — *kofkof* — undergroundy.

But he didn’t care. He carefully went through my other samples, taking a lot of interest in my early attempts at airbrushed comics.

He showed me French magazines with Drulliet and Moebius. Finally, he looked me in the eye and said, “You are just the kind of guy we want at this school.”

Joe was seeking out young artists for whom comic books were a “calling,” and I think he recognized that quality in me in this first meeting. I didn’t have a pot to piss in, much less the money for tuition. But Joe’s wife, Muriel, told me about a new government job training program called CETA [Compre-hensive Employment and Training Act]. That summer, I talked my way up the Vermont CETA hierarchy, showing my art samples and trying to convince them to pay for cartooning college. They were skeptical and couldn’t provide a decision before school went into session. Downhearted, I called Joe to let him know I wouldn’t be able to attend. He asked me a couple of pointed questions about the CETA approval pro-cess and then said, “Come down anyway. I’ve spoken with Muriel about you and we’ll make it work somehow.”

I ar-rived with a beat-up ten-speed, a box of groceries and $30 to live on. Joe and Muriel carried me for a couple months until the CETA grant was approved. It was an extraordinary act of generosity towards a kid they hardly knew, and by extending it they handed me the first key to the kingdom.

That opening semester at Kubert School in 1976 was a complete buzz. Not just for the 22 students, but also for Joe and Muriel and the brace of professional artists they’d brought in to teach us. The curriculum was surprisingly well developed for a first-year school. The facility, an old brick mansion set on private park-like grounds, was gorgeous and utilitarian. At the center of it was Joe, the human dynamo.

Joe was teaching four days a week, editing books for DC Comics on the fifth day, and knocking out covers and stories evenings and weekends. He would often work at a board

Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor 93

Rick Veitch is the writer/artist of the acclaimed 1991 graphic novel Enemy Ace/War Idyll (covers below). We extend our gratitude to George for his multitudinous contributions to this book.

Above: Inspired by the Métal Hurlant work coming from Europe, Joe Kubert experimented with different formats, including the short-lived but spectacular Sojourn tabloid. Veitch calls #2’s cover [1977] “stranger and scarier” than anything previously done by Joe.



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I had a germ of an idea not long ago, partially spawned by the routine comments I’ve received conducting some interviews. It’s one thing to be a comic book artist of renown — a perennial fan favorite, in fact — and to have been at it for many, many years; but to also earn the respect of peers almost without exception, and to be a successful editor, and to have made other significant contributions to the field, on top of it all, is just tremendous, if not unprecedented. Who else could I be describing but Joe Kubert?

Here’s a smattering of quotes about the creator and men-tor culled from those interviews over the years:

I would have to say the all-around best comic book artist who ever drew breath is Joe Kubert.

— Clem Robins

Kubert once said something very nice to his classes at his art school. He was talking about getting photographic refer-ence to do stuff to get it right. “The one exception to that is that you can use Russ Heath’s artwork. It is right.” [chuckles]

— Russ Heath

Joe Kubert was terrific. — Carmine Infantino

…[P]erhaps they ought to go to some of the best artists that were left in comic books and among which were Joe Kubert, who was the perfect guy for the [Green Berets] strip. — Neal Adams

And Joe Kubert is one of my closest friends. He’s a gem. He’s a gentleman. He’s exactly what the character is: Rock. That’s Joe.

— Jack Adler

In addition to comments like these, I was also inspired by a book. I recently treated myself to a copy of Man of Rock, Bill Schelly’s biogra-phy of Joe, and it is simply a masterwork. Bill beautifully chronicles the amazing and continuing career of this giant in the field and I was particularly intrigued with the discussion of the founding of the Joe Kubert School of Car-toon and Graphic Art in 1976. It’s been going strong ever since and has created viable professionals for the cartoon-ing industry. I thought it might be fascinating to hear a little from some of the instructors from the earliest days of the

school, so I contacted a few for their remembrances, begin-ning with Dick Ayers:

Bryan D. Stroud: What initially led you to the Kubert School, Mr. Ayers?Dick Ayers: My friend Henry Boltinoff, the cartoonist, he was teaching there and it was coming toward the end of summer, so he said Joe Kubert was looking for somebody. “Why don’t you ask him?” So I asked Joe, and he said, “Okay, come on out to indoctrination day, and we’ll introduce you to the students.” So I went out and we met the students and as we left we met some of the other teachers and I said to Joe, “Gee, you never introduced anyone as teaching anatomy.” He said, “Well, you’re doing that.” So I ended up teaching anatomy.Bryan: [Chuckles] You didn’t even know what you were interviewing for, huh?Dick: No. It was two classes I did and it was the same group because it was a two-year course, and I was pretty proud of the fact that the students asked Joe to have me carry right on with the second year, so I had the whole two years. When it came to the end of the second year, and I had them in front of me for about the last time, I said, “Now you guys are all my competitors.” I quit teaching.Bryan: [Laughs] So it was just the two years that you spent teaching?Dick: Just about that, yes. 1976 and ’77, I believe. I liked the class very much. I liked teaching them. In fact, there was Jan Duursema, Tom Mandrake, the fellow who does Archie now [Fernando Ruiz].Bryan: How did you come up with your curriculum?Dick: Usually by being a day ahead of them. [chuckles] If it was something I didn’t know on the day I was there, I’d say, “We’ll talk about that tomorrow.” I taught on Fridays, come to think of it. Just Fridays. Bryan: Not a whole lot of commuting to do, then. Now, you did most of your work at Marvel, so had you met Joe before?Dick: No. Only one time or another when I was looking for work. I never did anything for DC until later on, when I did know Joe from the school and somehow I just made my way over to DC and got on Jonah Hex and Kamandi.Bryan: Were you inking after Jack again on Kamandi?Dick: No. When I got over there I was penciling layouts and somebody else would do the inking…. Bryan: Any other significant memories?Dick: I remember Henry Boltinoff telling me that Joe will never ask you to work for him, you’ve got to ask to work for Joe.

I’d enjoyed a nice interview with Irwin Hasen awhile back, but we didn’t talk much about his time at the Kubert School. Irwin was a long-timer, only retiring in the recent past after a 30+ year run.

Bryan: How did you happen to start at the school, Mr. Hasen?Irwin Hasen: Well, I’ve known Joe Kubert since we were both about 19 years old. That goes back about 70 years ago. So that’s a long time to know somebody. And we became friends and then he went on his way and I went on my way doing my strip [Dondi] and everything, and one day he said, “I’m opening up a school.” This is 30 years ago. He said, “Would you like to come and teach?” I said, “Yeah. Once a

96 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Giving Back: Teaching at the Kubert SchoolBryan D. Stroud talks to a notable gang of instructors of The Kubert School

Below: Courtesy of Tom Foxmar-nick, a photo of Dick Ayers at the Joe Kubert School in the 1970s.

Page 32: Comic Book Creator #2

week would be fine.” That’s the way it worked out.Bryan: Terrific. I’ve seen that famous photo of you and Joe on the beach in California back in the day.Irwin: That’s right. Bryan: When I talked to Joe he thought most people who came to teach at the school did it mostly out of a sense of giving something back.Irwin: Well, it wasn’t for the money, that’s for sure. [laugh-ter] All I wanted to do was get the hell out of the house in the morning once a week.Bryan: I can’t blame you a bit. I’m sure being a freelancer like that you’d start climbing the walls.Irwin: Yeah, that’s right. So this is a good chance for me to have a nice day; a full day and also I was interested in those kids. Bryan: Good for you. What was your specialty?Irwin: My specialty was how to draw. Not how to draw a comic strip, but just how to draw for comic books mostly. Bryan: So, sequential art then.Irwin: Yeah. Bryan: Were there any students that really stand out in your mind?Irwin: Oh yes, quite a few, but the names are not coming to mind right now. Steve Bissette was one of them, who is now a top guy in the business. There were some people who left that school in very good shape. Bryan: Oh, yes. Joe said one of his goals was to create an environment that would make them viable candidates to go into the industry.Irwin: That’s right.

Bryan: Apparently it’s been very successful.Irwin: Very much so. Bryan: Did you find it rewarding to be a teacher?Irwin: Oh, yes. That’s why I did it. I wouldn’t have done it if I got bored. There have been a few top guys in the business who come there to teach and inside of two months they leave. It’s the nature of the beast. An instructor or teacher really has to put his heart into it.Bryan: I’m sure it’s a labor of love.Irwin: Absolutely. Bryan: You were at it for over 30 years?Irwin: Thirty years. I can’t believe it. While I was doing my strip, Dondi, I was teaching once a week. Why, I don’t know. [Bryan chuckles] I have no idea what drove me to do this. Bryan: Several factors, I’m sure, not the least of which enjoying what you were doing.Irwin: Yes, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t.Bryan: How did you come up with your curriculum?Irwin: I just went home one day before I started and worked out a curriculum that I thought would be advanta-geous to the students that would cover what they’d encoun-ter when they got out of school. Bryan: Kind of a practical guide then.Irwin: Absolutely. Bryan: Since you were there so long you must have run across some other good teachers.Irwin: Oh, yes. Hy Eisman, who does Popeye and The Katzenjammer Kids. He does a syndicated strip and he was the first instructor, by the way, before me. The Hildebrandt Brothers did wonderful poster work. They were illustrators and they came for a couple of years. There was a wide spread of different artists who felt they wanted to teach. Very few of them lasted as long as Hy and myself. Some I never saw because we all taught on different days. Bryan: Did either Adam or Andy [Kubert] come back to teach?Irwin: I believe so but, of course, they’re busy working for DC. Bryan: They’re definitely in demand.Irwin: Oh, yes. Very talented. I taught them everything they knew. [laughter]

Dick Ayers mentioned that he used to car pool to the school with Ric Estrada. Even though Ric had been endur-ing chemotherapy treatments for awhile, he very graciously gave me a good chunk of his time to talk about his experi-ences teaching at the school for a two year period, which I believe was the School’s first two years:

Ric Estrada: My memories of the two years I taught at the Kubert School alongside men like Dick Ayers and Dick Giordano and there were others, but those are the two that come to mind right away. As you may or may not know Joe

97Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

School Days

Below: The late cartoonist Ric Estrada in a photo by Garrett Wesley Gibbons. Ric’s son Seth continues to work on a film docu-mentary about his lovely father. Dibujantes [Draftsmen] is tauted as a “documentary about Cuban American artist and world traveler Ric Estrada.” For info, please visit Photo courtesy of Seth.

Inset left: Joe Kubert and Irwin Hasen clowning around at the beach in a late 1940s pic, which appeared in The Amazing World of DC Comics # 5 [Mar. ’75], in a feature celebrating the great editor Sheldon Mayer, who shepherded both cartoonists in comics legend.

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Timothy Truman: Joe Kubert’s Heart & FireThe artist/writer of Scout and Grimjack fame talks about his beloved teacher

Interview conducted by JON B. COOKE CBC Editor

[Timothy Truman is a renowned comic book artist and writer, as well as a musician, who is regarded for Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, Hawkworld, scripting Dark Horse’s Conan for the last seven years, illustrating Grateful Dead collateral, adaptations of The Spider and Tarzan, and a re-visioning of Jonah Hex (with writer Joe R. Lansdale), among many other projects. In other words, Timothy — who produced the back cover to this book and is a kind and gracious West Virginian — is a tremendously gifted talent. He got his start at — you guessed it — the Kubert School, which he joined in its third year. The following interview was conducted by phone on April 11, 2013, and the transcript — transcribed by Steve “Flash “ Thompson — was edited for accuracy and clarity by Timothy. — JBC.]

Comic Book Creator: When did you first become cognizant of Joe Kubert’s work? Timothy Truman: Well, he was one of the first artists that I started recognizing back when I was in grade school. Unlike most artists at the time, Joe usually signed his work, so I immediately started noticing the name. He was my favorite artist when I was young. If you would have asked me, even before I attended the Kubert School, I would’ve immediately said Joe Kubert was my favorite. I was just really very attached to and profoundly influenced by his work growing up.CBC: So you were reading the war comics as a little kid?Timothy: Sure. I grew up in Dunbar, West Virginia, and they didn’t have kindergarten for six-year-olds in our area, so when we first started school, we went right to first grade.

I loved being at home when I was little so, on my very first day of first grade, I was absolutely terrified. My dad was walking me to school and we passed by this barber-shop. In the window was a copy of Our Fighting Forces. I immediately stopped crying, stopped dead in my tracks and looked at that comic. Dad took me to school and I just had a horrible day, but when I came back, Dad was home from work and he had purchased that Our Fighting Forces comic from the barber. And, you know, there was a Joe Kubert story in there, so I started out enjoying Joe’s work at a really early age.CBC: Was that the first comic book you owned?Timothy: Yes! That was the first comic I owned. I was a really hyperactive kid. My cousins had big comic col-lections and when we’d visit their houses they brought out

the comic books. I would sit in my cousin’s room or in the den for two or three hours reading them and looking at the cool pictures they wouldn’t have to worry about me getting into trouble. [laughs]CBC: Did you read Kubert’s Tarzan when it came out? Was that an exciting time?Timothy: Oh, absolutely, yeah. I was born in ’56 and Tarzan was in the early ’70s, right? So I was real aware of that. I was anxiously awaiting that.CBC: Were you aware of Joe’s “Hawkman?”Timothy: Yeah, sure was. Yeah, I’d grown up with all that stuff — “Sgt. Rock,” “Hawkman,” Tarzan, “Viking Prince,” “Haunted Tank,” you name it. “Enemy Ace” and “Firehair” were my favorites, though, and I thought that Joe did some of his most innovative, under-recognized work, composition-ally and story-telling-wise, with those issues of “Unknown Soldier” that he did [Star-Spangled War Stories #151-160, 1970-72]. CBC: What was appealing about his art?Timothy: Well, Joe’s characters always seemed like they were… He didn’t do clean characters! His characters always looked like they had lived. Sgt. Rock always had that chin stubble, rumpled uniform, and looked covered in dust, y’know? He looked like he’d been through it. He had these Gregory Peck good looks but he was so craggy beyond that. So he looked like a “lived-in” Gregory Peck. [Jon laughs] There’s just something heroic about those characters, but also something very realistic. I could believe ’em.

106 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Inset right: Timothy Truman believes this might be the very first Kubert comic book he laid eyes on as a first grader in the early ’60s.

Our Fighting Forces #70 [Aug. ’62].

Below: Timothy Truman in a recent photograph.

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CBC: Did you start drawing at a young age?Timothy: Oh, yes. No one remembers exactly when I first picked up a pencil; I always seemed to have one. I’d use the backs of my sister’s homework papers and draw on those.CBC: Did you copy Joe’s art?Timothy: Yes, in fact, Joe, Jack Kirby, and Frank Frazetta were the guys I copied most, and later Steranko and Paul Gulacy. It’s really funny ‘cause I always sort of put Frazetta and Kubert in the same artistic boat as far as style goes, you know? [chuckles] There’s something that I found very similar in their approaches and stylings — the way they drew fig-ures, the way their characters appealed to me, the gestures of them, the raw, heroic drive they had.CBC: Was there an organic quality to it?Timothy: Yes. And then, later on, after I started going to the school, I started to realize all these little storytelling things that Joe would do were just absolutely ingenious! Very “cinematic”— he was a film director on paper. Beyond that, his panel-to-panel and page compositions were just mind-blowing when you sat down and studied them. Espe-cially stuff like “Enemy Ace.” They’re just gorgeous composi-tions. I think the organic quality is not only in the figures but also in the basic page design — the pages are alive, they aren’t static. They move and they grab your eye and they guide it through the page exactly where Joe wanted you to go. And at the pace that he wanted when you read a page, which is very important, too.CBC: You know, more than one person has said to me it’s almost irresistible, almost impossible not to read when you open up to any page of a Joe Kubert story. You’re immediate-ly compelled to read wherever your eye first hits the page! He immediately has you under his spell.Timothy: Yes, exactly. Really captivating! When Joe was our instructor, he said that the peak skill for a cartoonist to develop was to become a communicator, even more so than a draftsman. That was our main goal: to become the most effective communicator we could. To communicate the story.CBC: When Joe took over as editor of the war books, were you cognizant of that? Did you see a change that had taken place visually with the war books?Timothy: Oh, absolutely! They became more realistic and no matter who was writing the story… In the case of Bob Kanigher, his stories seemed to become more humanistic under Joe’s editorship. And there was more of a narrative drive to the books visually, no matter who was drawing them. I came to find out that Joe was really pretty strict with his artists about communicating the stories, telling the most ef-fective stories that they could tell. So he would honcho them through the layout process and all that.CBC: Early on did you recognize Sam Glanzman’s Kona? Timothy: Oh, yes. Absolutely. Yeah, I always thought that Joe and Sam were really similar in many of their approaches, too, which is kinda funny ’cause I was privy to some of Sam’s earliest drawings when I worked with him in the ’90s, looking at sketches that he did when he was in the South Pacific in as a young kid in World War II. You could see his own style developing there. So they sort of coincidentally developed similar styles quite individually without really knowing each other. Though Sam tremendously admires Joe’s work, they came up with their own approaches. In many regards, their techniques are similar as far as inking technique and things like that. A really brisk style with a lot of well-placed blacks. Also very humanistic characters.CBC: You worked with Sam?Timothy: Oh, yes. I was editor and publisher of a graphic novel he did for my 4Winds Publishing Group, Attu, and then Sam inked all three Jonah Hex mini-series that Joe R. Lansdale and I did for DC’s Vertigo imprint.

CBC: Were you privy to the development of the “U.S.S. Stevens” series? Did Sam suggest them? Did Joe encourage them? Do you know how they came about?Timothy: You’d probably have to confirm this with Sam, but the way that I understood it was that Sam wanted to tell those stories and Joe encouraged it after seeing Sam’s WWII sketches, which I was just telling you about. Sam had sketchbooks and had also illustrated letters home. Those letters are just phenomenal. There’s this wealth of historical information in there including some personal information about Sam and what he was going through during the war. He was encountering some amazing things—the Kamikaze attacks, and all that stuff. And there were things that he would see when they were in port on some of those islands like in New Guinea or the Philippines.

For instance, on one occasion, Sam told me these island-ers were carrying big burlap bags, which they would turn over to these official-looking U.S. personnel who were on the beach. Sam came to find out that the bags were full of Japanese heads! The islanders would lay in wait and am-bush these Japanese soldiers, cut off their heads, and then take them to these U.S. officials, and get a bounty for them! So, he had sketches of seeing that. These guys bringing in

107Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Above: Timothy Truman aptly worked on Joe Kubert-related concepts with Hawkworld. Original cover painting by T.T., courtesy of Heritage Auctions, to #32 [Mar. ’93], the final issue.

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Learning from the Master

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Paul Levitz: Joe Takes Care of Business

A Practical Man

Friend and former DC Publisher on the common sense of a guy named JoeInterview conducted by JON B. COOKE CBC Editor

[Paul Levitz began his comics career as a fanzine editor, skulking about publisher offices in search of scoops for Etcetera and The Comic Reader, and would join DC Comics to move up the company ladder as (respectively) as-sistant editor, scripter, editor, business manager, and eventually the top rung of DC publisher and president, a position he held from 2002–09. Today, Paul is contributing editor and overall consultant with the company now called DC Entertainment, Inc. He has returned to writing his beloved Legion of Super-Heroes and is cur-rently at work on a biography of Will Eisner. He was interviewed on April 5 and 11, 2013, and the following transcription (transcribed by Steve Thompson) was corrected and edited for clarity by Paul. — JBC.]

Comic Book Creator: When did you first become aware of Joe’s work?Paul Levitz: As a byline, probably around the DC Special [#5] about him. That was at the age when I was just begin-ning to understand that people did things and I had probably seen a couple of his early/mid-’60s super-hero covers — there’s a couple of Batman and Justice League he did for [editor] Julie [Schwartz] — and been curious about sort of a different style and line. But I don’t know that I was aware of him as a distinct person in our history prior to that. The DC Special did a pretty good job of introducing him. CBC: Did you have any exposure to the war comics? Paul: I must’ve read a couple of them over the years, in some other kid’s stack, but I don’t recall buying one. I guess I probably bought, by that point, maybe the Showcase issues. There’s one Showcase “Sgt. Rock” and then there’s a Show-case or two of “G.I. Joe,” and it was like, “Oh, I’ve gotta have these just to fill in the set” kind of thing. CBC: Right. “Enemy Ace.” Paul: Guess so. CBC: Obviously, as publisher of DC Comics you were privy to, I would reckon, some of the demographics. Was the makeup of the reader picking up the war books remarkably different that of the reader picking up the super-hero books? Paul: If anybody did any studies of those at the time, they didn’t survive for me to be aware of. I suspect they weren’t separately researched because they weren’t separately sold as an ad group, so there wasn’t any particular reason to do it by the logic of the time.CBC: I also mean to the very end of the war genre run at DC, when you were in the offices.Paul: By the time I was in management, the war genre was such a small part of the line, there really wouldn’t have been any reason to do that kind of research. CBC: So, was it really Tarzan that made you cognizant of Kubert’s work?Paul: Tarzan was the first thing I really delighted in that contained his work. I was working on a fanzine — it was

then called Etcetera at that point and it was about to shift to being The Comic Reader. I was gonna have the big scoop that Tarzan was coming to DC [jumping from Gold Key], which was pretty well impressive as there were only a couple of occasions when a license had moved to DC from

another publishing company, the last of those prob-ably a decade or more before. So everybody at

the company thought this was exciting. It had been a very successful title for Gold

Key. Joe was extraordinarily excited. He thought, this was an artist’s book! He

could do some work to out his name up there with [Burne] Hogarth and [Hal]Foster, and the other greats who had touched it. So there certainly was a lot more focus at that point.CBC: How did you get the scoop?Paul: Dunno. I was 14. I was hang-ing around the offices. Somebody told me. It may have been Joe [Orlando], it may have been Marv

[Wolfman], it may have been Carmine [Infantino].

CBC: So what was Joe like to a 14-year-old kid who was hanging around the

offices?Paul: Remarkably benevolent. I mean all the

team at DC and Marvel, were so kind. When I look back, in retrospect, it baffles me that they put up with me. I think a lot of it was that there were really no other news ’zines trying to identify who the writers and artists were when the books were coming out. A lot of the freelancers liked knowing that information so they could make sure they got their extra copies, even if they had to buy them themselves. But it amazes me that I got away with it — that nobody called my mom and sent me home. CBC: Well, you had a good fanzine, Paul. I mean, come on. [laughs]Paul: It grew into being a decent fanzine but still… a 14-year-old kid around a business office. [Jon laughs] Comic book companies are not your most formal environ-ments in business, but this was a Manhattan skyscraper office, a New York Stock Exchange public company, a fair number of guys in suits wandering around and I’m bouncing around the place as a 14-year-old kid!CBC: We’ll mark you down as grateful. Paul: Grateful and baffled!CBC: [Laughs] Well, I’m glad it happened. Now in retrospect, did you look back at the war books at all and note that there was a graphic change, for instance, with Joe taking over as editor?

111Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Inset left: Portrait of Paul Levitz by Seth Kushner.

Below: Paul Levitz’s earliest involvement with the comics industry was as a fanzine editor skulking about publishing offices in search of a scoop. Here’s a copy of Etcetera & The Comic Reader #82 [Feb ’72] with Alan Kupperberg Tarzan cover.

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112 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Paul: Oh, absolutely! When I began working at the compa-ny, my responsibilities included serving as assistant editor on some of the war titles and ultimately as editor on several of them. I don’t know if the one that I presided over the creation of was the last of DC’s war books, but one of the last of the old-school ones, Men of War. I had immersed myself pretty deeply in the war line by that time. I gained a great deal of respect for Kanigher’s storytelling style, his taste in artists. He assembled an extraordinary team of artists working on those books. And then, when Bob had his health issues and had to step down, Joe really kicked it up yet another notch when he took over as editor. CBC: Do you know the timing of that? Was that coinciding

with Carmine Infantino’s ascension as editorial director?Paul: My sense is that both of those events pretty much happened in ’67. It’s hard to tell exactly when Carmine’s job morphed through its different incarnations. As I can speak to from personal experience, one’s different job designations don’t necessarily represent the different phases of one’s work. Sometimes a responsibility gets added, the job title catches up. Sometimes the job title means one thing one day and another day another. Carmine seemed to carry the titles art director, editorial director, publisher and then president, but there’s not really a bright line of demarcation of exactly what authority he had in each position each day. At least, not as far as I’ve ever been able to tell.

CBC: When we talked earlier, you had a very interesting word to use about Carmine’s tenure: “fearless.”Paul: Carmine presided over an astounding burst of creativity at DC, when you look at what was launched in that ’67–’69 period. By the standards of any of the comic book companies of the last decade before that, it’s an extraordinary range of experimentation. Most of the comic book houses through most of their lives were searching for what the trend was, if the trend was working you did more of that trend. DC certainly did a fair amount of that, the mystery books being an example, the proliferation of sticking the word, “weird” on all sorts of different genres to try and get a little rub-off from it. But not withstanding

This page: “Firehair,” the saga of a red-headed teenager, born

of European stock but raised as a Blackfoot Indian —and rejected by both worlds — on the Great

American Plains of the 1800s, was a daring and different concept that tapped into the prevailing

alienation in late ’60s culture. Joe was creator, writer and artist of the

innovative series, which saw light in Showcase [#85-87] and as back-up in Tomahawk [132, 134 & 136].

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Karen BergerThere are certain people in your life who really make a dif-ference. Joe Kubert was one of those people for me. He was a constant, caring presence during my 30-plus year career at DC Comics. He really felt like part of my family. So much, that when he became ill before he passed away, I asked Joe and his family if my brother, who’s a physician, could consult with Joe’s doctors to make sure he was receiving the proper medical treatment.

I started working at DC Comics fresh out of college. I wasn’t a comics fan, so outside of the popular super-heroes, I knew nothing about so many of the other characters, and I certainly didn’t know anything about the writers and artists. The unique storytelling magic of comics certainly made an impression on me and I ended up staying at DC for a very long time! But, if the people creating the comics weren’t so nice and interesting, I wouldn’t have remained, especially in those early impulsive years.

The industry was still fairly self-contained in the early 1980s. The majority of talent lived in the tri-state area so they delivered their work in person, which was how I got to know Joe over the years. While there were so many incredibly talented artists, Joe’s natural line, fluidity of form and emo-tional resonance took my breath away. There was something special about his talent. But there was also something special about the man himself. And no one gave you a better handshake or hug than he did!

I thought a lot about Joe after he passed away — I still do. My father died when I was very young, and Joe became very much a father figure to me. When he died in August of last year, I wrote a column for DC’s blog, which was also printed in the Vertigo books and appears below. It was written over many tears, but it made me feel good to be able to share with so many people my love and respect for this wonderful man.

Joe Kubert had a special kind of life-force. Certainly, he was a gifted artist and master storyteller, but it was his integrity, passion, kindness, and strong sense of conviction that I’ll remember most. He was like family.

Joe was one of our medium’s true pioneers. Drawing since he was old enough to hold a piece of chalk, he started professionally illustrating at age 12 and never stopped. Over seven decades, he had drawn scores of memorable characters for many companies, but primarily for DC: most notably Hawkman, Tarzan, Enemy Ace, Batman, The Flash; he was also co-creator of Sgt. Rock, Ragman, and creator of Tor. In addition, Joe became an exceptional editor in 1968 at DC, and after leaving staff in 1976, he founded the cartooning school that bears his name with his wife, Muriel. The Kubert School is the only full-time accredited college devoted to comics, and has graduated many of our industry’s finest artists including two of Joe’s sons, Adam and Andy. Most special to me were those first few graduating classes, with Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, and Tom Yeates, amazing creative talents and longtime friends of mine.

While Joe was expanding the Kubert School and teach-ing full-time, he was still drawing full-time. And in the years to come, he created his most personal works: Abraham Stone; Fax from Sarajevo; Jew Gangster; Dong Xoai, Vietnam

1965; and, for me, his masterpiece, Yossel: April 19, 1943. Joe’s family emigrated from Poland when he was a baby and Yossel is the tragic, inspiring and all-too-real story of what might have been if they had never left. Reproduced entirely from Joe’s pencil art, the emotion and vitality of Joe’s work has never been as effective, enduring and heart-stopping.

When Joe suddenly got ill a few weeks ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about him. I remembered that in 1980, the first cover I commissioned as an editor was from him for House of Mystery #292. During the next several years, while Joe was still editing Sgt. Rock, he would come into the offices at 75 Rock once a week to handle business and to meet with writer Bob Kanigher, his longtime collaborator. The two of them couldn’t have been more different. But they were both storytelling masters who loved to challenge each other. I always remember hearing loud voices coming from Joe’s office and seeing that gleam in his eye as he and Bob would go at it.

Joe was a man of unerring principle and conviction. And though he respected a lot of what Vertigo published, he would often tell me that he was worried that some of it was too strong, and he didn’t want me to get into trouble. Still, I think he was proud of me, and that’s what matters the most. And although most of his books weren’t published under Vertigo, it meant the world to me that he insisted that all of his most personal work be handled under my purview along with fellow Vertigo editor, Will Dennis.

Joe was up in the office just a couple of months ago and he looked as great as ever. Who would’ve thought that this almost 86-year-old man who lived life to its fullest would be leaving us so soon. Artist, writer, teacher, father, grandfa-ther, great-grandfather, friends to many, Joe Kubert always claimed that he was a lucky man to have such a wonderful family and such a wonderful life. For those of us who were fortunate to have known this one-of-a-kind and genuine soul, we were also the lucky ones. What a talent, what a legacy, what a man.

Rest in peace, dearest Joe.

Stephen R. BissetteLike most comic book readers of my generation, I “met” Joe as a lad, long distance, through Joe’s energetic, distinctive comics creations and co-creations: collaborative work with diverse peers on the likes of “The Flash” (Joe inked the seminal Silver Age Flash rebirth in Showcase), “Hawkman,” “Cave Carson,” and “The War That Time Forgot”; his fruitful collaborations with writer/editor Bob Kanigher on series like “Sgt. Rock,” “Enemy Ace,” and so many more; his solo efforts as writer/editor on Tor and “Firehair,” and his adapta-tions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan novels, and more.

To my eyes, Joe’s comics seemed forever alive and vital, bursting with vigor and life, and yet soaked in shadows and the threat of mortality, inked with dinosaur blood and oil.

In the summer of 1976, I met Joe in the flesh — at my in-terview at the Baker Mansion in Dover, New Jersey, in hopes of making the cut to be part of the first-ever class at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc. — and first met his eye and felt his knuckle-cruncher handshake. My life changed the second I met Joe; and a second later, when my father met Joe, life got even better.

Next page: Neal Adams showcases perhaps Joe Kubert’s greatest legacy, the alumni from his renowned art school. Names

correspond (roughly) to chin level.


Tributes in Memory of Joe KubertWords and pictures from friends, peers, students and fans about the comics master

Comic Book Creator did our best to get word out that we

were looking for testimonials and art honoring the late Joe Kubert, especially contacting

“XQBs” — former students of The Kubert School — but, alas,

we couldn’t reach everyone and many were too busy to

participate. To those who would have liked to have been

included in the print edition, our apologies. To those who

did contribute but were crowd-ed out of the 160-page print

edition, our deepest apologies. Rest assured, at least, the

digital PDF edition includes all remembrances. Much as Ye Ed

wished to extend the printed issue, publishing logistics keep

us on a severe regimen. Do note that we plan to expand

the tributes in an ongoing and perpetual tribute section at, so get in

touch with Ye Ed to be a part of that continuing memorial.

Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

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Remembering the Master

Adam Kubert

Andy Kubert

Dan Parent

Rags Morales

Tom Raney

Eric Shanower

Steve Lieber

Tom Mandrake

Stephen R. Bissette (with beard)

Alex Maleev

Andre Szymanowicz

Alec Stevens (with beard)

Dave Dorman(with glasses)

Neal Adams

117Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor


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by JORGE “GEORGE” KHOURY CBC Contributing Editor

Remember how much you just loved super-heroes as a kid? How, when you would run into any drug or department store, your eager eyes always wandered towards all the color-ful licensed toys, wonderful school supplies, and charming knick-knacks bearing those joyful faces of beloved favorite heroes? And ultimately how, to the chagrin of your poor mom, you’d cry and pout and basically coerce her into buy-ing these aforementioned goods for you? Yeah, though in the 1970s and early ’80s, such kid-friendly products were not as prevalent as they are in today’s marketplace, children of yesteryear knew a good thing when they saw it. Perhaps liv-ing vicariously, these were youngsters who proudly showed off their favorite heroic acquisitions and colors for all to see at the schoolyard. For many who couldn’t find these goods locally, possessing these type of nostalgia items would not have been possible without Ivan Snyder and his Heroes World mail-order business and chain of stores.

Back in early ’70s, one man understood that there was an audience starved for toys and merchandise based on the

growing popularity of Marvel Comics and their characters. That man was Mr. Ivan Snyder. At the time, Snyder, a certified public accountant, worked for Cadence Industries (Marvel’s parent com-pany from 1968–86) as an assistant treasurer. He then became vice-president for Cadence’s publish-ing division, Marvel Comics and Perfect Film and Chemical’s Magazine Man-agement, another company originally started by Marvel’s founder, Martin Goodman. Once at the House of Ideas, it was imminently clear to him that the rising popularity of the company’s library of characters could lead to some profit-able licensing opportunities if taken serious-ly. He alone pretty much initiated the avalanche of

toys and products that followed for Marvel in the ’70s.“When I went to work for the publishing division," Snyder

explained, "we basically counted up 20 pages of story in a 32-page comic — [leaving] 12 pages of advertising — and advertising at that time was not selling for a great amount and there was no avenue of licensing. DC Comics always had the advantage because of Licensing Corporation of America, which was a part of them. Marvel had nothing. So I started a licensing division and had retained someone to sell in that regard, but there was nothing within the confines of the comics, so we started by devoting one page a month to selling Marvel-related product.”

The novel notion of Marvel advertising these goods, month in month out, in the comics themselves, not only pro-duced extra revenue for the company, but it easily hooked up the intended target market — the faithful readership — with all the Marvel products that their hearts could desire. Changes in the publishing outfit’s management ended this memorable practice. Snyder said, “Well, we were dealing with Al Landau, president of Marvel, and he left and they brought in Jim Galton, and Jim and I never really saw eye-to-eye on a lot of business matters, so he said to me, ‘Why do we have a mail order company? We’re publishers. Let’s get rid of it. So I bought it.’”

Having kept the Marvel advertisements rolling for his mail order business, Snyder built a large client list and launched Superhero Enterprises, Inc., by producing the comic-sized Superhero Merchandise Catalog, based out of Dover, New Jersey; the initial pages produced by Marvel Bullpenners and showcasing primarily Marvel products in 1975. By the Bicentennial year, now including DC-related and other genre products, the pamphlet had also reinvented itself into The Superhero Book, with editor Joe Kubert at the helm, and students from the then-newly opened Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc., providing artwork, lettering, and coloring duties. From 1976–80, these booklets would rep-resent some of the earliest printed work of many prominent Kubert alumni from the institution's fledgling years. The cata-logs, sent to Snyder's extensive mailing list of fans, proved popular enough to actually be sold on newsstands and in early comic book specialty shops. Kubert and his pupils also illustrated the company’s memorable monthly ads appearing in Marvel and DC titles. And Joe himself created Snyderman, the “Stereosonic Superhero” and official company mascot (who was given his name by contest winner David Stebbins).

“I had known Joe before,” recalled Snyder. “The industry was not that large and I had met him on several occa-sions and we lived near each other. And actually two of his children worked for me, and they both found their spouses working for me. David, his son, managed one of my stores, and he met his wife, who worked for our mail-order division, and his daughter came to work in our mail-order division and she met her [future] husband there."

Snyder got the idea to incorporate Kubert's new enter-prise because, he explained, "Joe was doing the ads for me in DC Comics. The School was then just starting out, so when I got the idea of the catalog, the comic-book catalog of my line, I went to Joe and spoke to him about it. So, basically, a lot of the work within the catalog was done by the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.”

Instead of using photographs to showcase the prod-

142 Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

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Ivan Snyder’s Wonderful World of HeroesRemembering the toy stores and merchandise catalogs of Superhero Enterprises

Below: One of numerous catalog covers drawn by Joe Kubert.

While the entire catalog was, for a spell, worked on by much of the

student body, Joe’s distinctive style is obvious through much of the

comic-sized catalogs.

Next page: At top is the catalog page introducing the winning name

of the catalog super-hero mascot, Snyderman. The King Kong-

inspired illustration is drawn by Joe Kubert. Note the school ad

footing that page. Kubert School student Rick Veitch drew this illo,

bottom, of the Heroes World mural window display. Courtesy of Rick.

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Joe Kubert is often hailed as the greatest artist of war com-ics. Rightly so, as long as we understand we’re talking about his subject, not his attitude. In the meaning of his work he was really an anti-war artist, showing us the warrior at war in a way that drew a line between the two, heralding the heroism of the warrior while criticizing war itself. His ap-proach was deeply influenced by his own heritage as a Jew born in Poland and raised in the U.S.

His greatest work here is the character of Sgt. Rock of “Sgt. Rock and Easy Company,” who appeared in Our Army at War, a DC comic of World War II stories, from 1959 to 1988, and sporadically thereafter. The character was so popular that Our Army at War at times outsold DC’s super-hero titles, and its title was eventually changed to Sgt. Rock. The overwhelming majority of the stories were written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Kubert.

These were stories of men in combat, but the great power of the stories of “Sgt. Rock and Easy Company” was that they were about the men much more than the combat. They were character-driven, and the strengths of the sol-diers of Easy Company, especially Frank Rock himself, were those of ordinary men trying to survive under extraordinary difficulties. The cover of Our Army at War #112 [Nov. 1961] is a portrait gallery of Rock and the other “Combat-Happy Joes of Easy Co.”: brawny Bulldozer, steadfast Ice Cream Soldier, sad Zack, winking Sunny, stolid Nick, cigar smoking Wee Willie, Archie, looking older than the rest, and Junior, looking younger. The stories didn’t feature super abilities or great feats. Sure, there were some tales of astounding marksman-ship or strength or speed, but the core of the stories was clear in the name itself, Rock. They praised the endurance, steadfastness, stubbornness, and persistent courage re-quired to stand one’s ground displayed by what we have now come to call the greatest generation.

Kubert’s art etched the weariness of the war-weary into Rock’s face: a triangular face looking haggard and suggest-ing gauntness without quite getting there that narrowed down from his helmet, its strap undone and flapping, to a jut-ting jaw with a permanent stubble of beard and, most striking of all, the dark shadows of his recessed eyes. In the bend of the shoulders and the slight buckle of the legs one felt the weight of what Rock carried: the grenades and ammunition belt that always hung on him, the rifle in his hands, and the responsibility for the lives of the men under his command. It was the powerful humanity of Sgt. Rock, the way that you could see the resonance with his men’s pain and peril regis-tering on his own face, that accounts for his popularity even at the height of the opposition to the Vietnam War. When Kubert became editor of DC’s war and other comics during this period he started an unusual practice for a war comic. At the end of each story appeared the slogan “Make War No More.” “I wanted to make it clear that, despite the fact that I was editing war books, we were not glorifying war,” Kubert explained.1

That attitude came across clearly and had a strong impact. I know it affected me personally. During the Iraq war, I was one of the speakers at a “teach-in” held at my university while we were still under the Bush administration. The university has an ROTC program, and during the discus-sion two young men from the program passionately delivered their opinion that the professors on the panel were fools and stormed out, clearly feeling demeaned if not outright insulted by the criticisms of the war being made. Before the moderator moved on to other questions I interjected to say that I regretted that they had left, that I honored their service, and that those of us who were sharply critical of U.S. policy, as I was, had an obligation to bend over backwards to make clear that in our criticisms we separated the war from the

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Joe Kubert: The Anti-War War ArtistThe creator’s fine line: telling the war from the warrior, drawing (on) the past

Below: The “Combat-Happy Joes of Easy Co.,” led by the “Man

Called Rock,” fightin’ Ratzis with wits and fists in the Big One:

dub-ya, dub-ya two. The global war seemed so innocent on this cover of Our Army at War #112 [Nov. ’61] by Joe Kubert, huh?

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warrior. I was very surprised when that received more applause than anything else anyone had said. Looking back, I think that I was helped to really get that distinction at an emotional level by reading Kubert and Kanigher’s war com-ics during the Vietnam War era, even though they were set in World War II. (In the same way the TV show M*A*S*H, while set in the Korean War, was experienced by its audience as really being about the Vietnam War, which was still going on when the series started.)

Aside from a few scattered and oblique references, until very recently, comics about World War II managed to ignore that central part of the war that was the Holocaust, the systematic geno-cide against the Jews that also claimed many other victims. Kubert brought Rock and Easy Co. directly into confronta-tion with the Holocaust in the six-issue 2006 mini-series The Prophecy. When asked why it took a full sixty years after the end of World War II for Sgt. Rock and Easy Company to first encounter the Holocaust, Kubert said that when he was drawing the strip in earlier decades there was “a tacit understanding” that images of concentration camps would have been too bloody and brutal for their primary audience, whom they took to be 10- to 12-year-old boys.2 The cover of the first issue of that mini-series showed Sgt. Rock directly addressing the reader, as he usually did verbally if not also visually to narrate the story, saying, “You ready? You wanna see war? Me an’ Easy’ll show you the real war!”

They parachute in near Vilnus in Lithuania, on a special mission to extract “a very valuable object that’s gotta be fer-ried outta here.”3 There they meet up with Jewish resistance fighters who bring them to their object, which turns out to be a young orthodox rabbi named David, whom some believe will fulfill a prophecy of deliverance. The Allied plan is that when the rabbi reaches an Allied safe haven they will have him send messages back to Europe in radio broadcasts that will inspire Jews to fight back more vigorously. As they travel to their rendezvous point for the rabbi’s extraction, the shock and horror of the men of Easy Co. intensifies as they encoun-ter first a burned synagogue with the charred bodies still inside, then a concentration camp with its mound of corpses, then hidden Jews who tell of other horrors. Like the other stories of “Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.,” while the action and adventure elements of war comics were certainly there, the emphasis was on the human element. Kubert consistently held fast to his basic principle: one could honorably depict the struggles of those who fought, and readers could revel in their adventures, without glorifying war.

While Sgt. Rock remains by far the major military character identified with the Kubert-Kanigher team, he’s not the only one. In 1965 they took war comics another step away from a chauvinistic celebration of war with their introduction of a surprising new feature. “Enemy Ace” told the story of a German World War I pilot, Hans von Hammer, an aristocrat who followed the old warrior’s code of mutual respect between enemy combatants. He had a fatalism that saw destiny ruling those who lived and died in the skies. This

helped more sharply define the char-acter, allowing him to wax poetic in

some high-flying language to ac-company the high-flying aero-

nautical acrobatics. It also shifted readers’ attention

away from the fact that it really was the “hero” of the feature, and not fate, who was shooting down planes that were on “our” side. Kanigher and Kubert had to toe many a fine line in this feature, which was originally the

backup second feature to “Sgt. Rock” in Our Army at

War, but eventually became very popular in its own right.

Kubert’s reputation as the preeminent artist of war comics

led him to be tapped to do the art for a Tales of the Green Beret newspaper strip in

1966, inspired by Robin Moore’s bestselling book The Green Berets and written by Jerry Capp (brother of Al Capp, who created Li’l Abner). Kubert had envisioned it as an adventure strip in the vein of the old Terry and the Pirates, famously done by Milt Caniff. He soon quit when, as he saw it, “Little by little Jerry tried to turn it into a political treatise” in favor of the war.4 It’s not that Kubert was a war protester strongly opposed to the Vietnam War (although his wife Muriel increasingly turned that way).5 Like many immigrants and veterans (Kubert was drafted and served from 1950 to ’52, mostly at Fort Dix, with a six-month stint in Germany), he was inclined to believe and support what the U.S. government said about the neces-sity of the war. But he didn’t participate in any flag-waving hurrahs that demonized the enemy and minimized the trag-edy of war in order to mount an ostentatious display of heroics.

After Sgt. Rock, the characters Kubert is most associated with are Hawkman, whom he drew during his original incarnation in the ’40s, and then brought back in his revival in the ’60s; Tarzan, whom he drew in a period when DC held the comics rights to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ characters; and Tor, a prehis-toric hunter of Kubert’s

Inset left: Early into his tenure as DC editor, Joe Kubert added a distinctive and resonant kicker to the end of the war stories ap-pearing in his titles. Above: The Rock of Easy Company gets real with readers on Joe Kubert’s cover of Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #1 [Mar. ’06]. Below: Perhaps the widest exposure of any Joe Kubert artwork was his Our Army at War #233 cover repro’ed on the New York Times Magazine cover of May 2, 1971. The article inside dealt with relevancy in comics.

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145Comic Book Creator Tribute Joe Kubert: Creator & Mentor

Make War No More

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Comic Book ArtistInset right: Joe Kubert, born in

a Jewish shetl in eastern Poland, imagined if his family had not emi-grated to the United Sates, and an aspiring artist struggles to survive in the Warsaw ghetto of WWII in

the face of Nazi extermination. The graphic novel Yossel, April

19, 1943, drawn entirely in pencil, was published by iBooks in 2003.

Here is Joe’s barmitzvah photo from his 13th birthday. Below: Joe

inks Neal Adams pencils in this panel from “The Last Outrage,”

chronicling Dana Gottliebová Bab-bitt’s history and plight (as detailed

in the article here). Courtesy of Kristine Adams Stone & Continuity.


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150 JOE KUBERT: Creator & Mentor Comic Book Creator Tribute

Joe Kubert’s Return To His Jewish RootsDr. Rafael Medoff on the creator/mentor’s work dealing with the Holocaust

COMIC BOOK CREATOR #2JOE KUBERT double-size Summer Special tribute issue! Compre-hensive examinations of each facet of Joe’s career, from GoldenAge artist and 3-D comics pioneer, to top Tarzan artist, editor,and founder of the Kubert School. Kubert interviews, rare art andartifacts, testimonials, remembrances, portraits, anecdotes, pin-ups and mini-interviews by faculty, students, fans, friends andfamily! Edited by JON B. COOKE.

(164-page FULL-COLOR mag) $17.95 (Digital Edition) $7.95