R.I.P. Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert, an artist, writer, and editor of comic books whose career stretched back almost to the beginning of the medium, has died at the age of 85, Comic Book Resources and other sources are reporting. Born in Poland in 1926, Kubert immigrated to America with his family as a child and entered the industry at a young age—he was between 10 and 12, in various versions of his origin story—most likely inking pencils at MLJ Studios. By 1943 he’d found work at DC Comics, working on stories involving the Seven Soldiers Of Victory team and, eventually, Hawkman, a character he’d return to throughout his career. In the 1950s, Kubert began illustrating the not-always-glorious WWII adventures of Sgt. Rock, another character with whom his name became synonymous and created Tor, a prehistoric hero whose adventures he’d also continue to draw until his death. From 1967 until 1976, he served as DC’s director of publication.

Kubert was known for his disciplined, kinetic style, almost a Platonic ideal of how two-fisted, emotionally engaging comic book storytelling ought to look. It’s fitting, then, that he would become well known for passing his skills on to others through the still-vital Kubert School, founded by Kubert and his wife Muriel, which provides instruction in comic book and commercial art. It’s fitting, too, that his name would be carried on in the industry via sons who entered the business: Andy and Adam Kubert. Kubert stayed busy until the end of his life, reviving Tor, revisiting Sgt. Rock and publishing ambitious graphic novels like Fax From Sarajevo and Dong Xoai: Vietnam 1965 and Yossel April 19, 1943. His work can currently be seen in Before Watchmen: Nite Owl, a title for which he finished Andy’s pencils—an inking job, just like the one that gave him his start.