Trouble with Comics

R.I.P. Joe Kubert 1926-2012

I would point you to more knowledgeable comics historians like Mark Evanier and Tom Spurgeon for their thoughts on the passing of this comics giant, but I do think it’s important to note this passing. As a Marvel Comics aficionado, I didn’t grow up reading much of Kubert’s work, as much of his career was spent at DC, so I don’t have any particular nostalgia for Sgt. Rock or Hawkman or Viking Prince. Still, some time in the early ’90s I did make efforts to correct the gaping chasm in my comics knowledge, buying some of the Greatest Stories volumes in which Kubert was featured, and then later the Tor Archives and Showcase Presents volumes, and even Fax from Sarajevo, part of Kubert’s late-career move into more adult(?) work. Adult might not be the right word. I don’t know if it was inspired by Will Eisner’s graphic novels, many of them about Jewish life, or if it’s just a natural outgrowth of being a senior citizen in a medium that’s thought of as pandering to juveniles, but Kubert should be lauded for stretching a bit in those later years, even if it should also be noted that his decades of Sgt. Rock stories are, of course, fairly serious studies of heroism and the impact of war. Whether teaching, drawing some younger writer’s script, inking his son, or doing it all himself, Kubert never stopped working, and his art, while lacking the heavy blacks of his ’50s through ’70s material, was always strong even in its economy, and always distinctively his. With one of the longest careers while still maintaining a high level of craft, Kubert was a giant, and there are very few of them left. If an artist has had an impact on your life, if they’ve made art that’s thrilled or touched or inspired you, take the time to tell them.

—Christopher Allen