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The Line it is Drawn #102 – A Tribute to Joe Kubert

by  in Comic News Comment
The Line it is Drawn #102 – A Tribute to Joe Kubert

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Now on to the bit!

This is a special edition of The Line it is Drawn. When the artists discovered that Joe Kubert had passed away this past Sunday, they all agreed that they would try to put together tribute drawings to Kubert for this week and then next week we will just pick up with last week’s video game mash-up theme (a couple of the crew had already sent in their drawings for that theme). So the artists will be working on their own this week, just giving their own personal tributes to a comic book legend.

All copyright and trademarks of the following characters are held by their respective owners.

Nick Perks is the artist for this one. Here is his website.

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Bill Walko drew this one. His website is here.

EDITED ON AUGUST 17th TO ADD: Jason “Gonzo” Gonzalez drew this one. Here is his website.

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Xum Yukinori drew this one. Here is his website.

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Brendan Tobin is the artist for this one. Here is his website.

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Sean McFarland is the artist for this one. Here is his website.

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Axel Medellin drew this one. His website is here.

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Phillip Sevy drew this one. Here is his website.

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Cynthia “Thea” Rodgers drew this one. Her website is here.

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Michael “Mic?” Magtanong is the artist for this one. Here is his website.

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Steve Howard is the artist for this one. Here is his website.

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Lastly, two of our artists had particularly personal connections to Joe Kubert. They each wanted to say a little bit about the legend.

First, Daniel Cox (whose website is here)…

About 6 months ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe, focusing solely on his ground-breaking Enemy Ace work for DC Comics. Joe was very humble about this significant body of work, giving most of the credit to his writing partner, Robert Kanigher. It was absolutely fascinating to hear first hand about Joe’s creative process, and he was an absolute gentleman the whole time. I sent the article to Roy Thomas, and he agreed to publish it in an upcoming special tribute issue in Alter Ego #116 (April 2013). Roy was also kind enough to offer me the cover, so I decided to paint a portrait of Joe and border it with some of his sketches:

I printed a large version (sans logo), and sent it to him at the Kubert School. Joe said he loved it, and would be hanging it at the school, which really touched me. Here’s a picture of a smiling Joe, holding the print:

This photo was only taken about 4 weeks ago. RIP peace Joe — you truly are, and always will be, A COMIC BOOK LEGEND.

Finally, John Trumbull (whose website is here)…

I hated Joe Kubert’s art the first time I saw it.

To be fair, I was only ten, and ten year olds are still allowed to think a number of stupid things. I was already a budding comic book artist, and my big artistic hero was George Pérez. And when my copy of Justice League of America #200 arrived in the mail that day back in 1982, I was certain of one thing: That Joe Kubert guy who did the art for the Superman-Hawkman fight towards the back of the book couldn’t draw worth a damn.

Those five pages just looked WEIRD. Compared to the pages by Pérez, Superman and Hawkman just looked rough, loose and unfinished, with these strange lines all over them. Who did this Kubert guy think he was, letting his drawing look like that? Didn’t he know that all comic book art was supposed to look tight, slick and clean? I was only ten but I was sure that I could already draw better than this Kubert guy! I was SO sure, in fact (in the way that only a ten year old can be), that I decided I would draw my OWN version of the Superman-Hawkman splash page and send it in to DC Comics, so that THEY could see just how much better I drew than this Kubert guy, too.
But when I finished my version, something seemed wrong. Sure, I’d drawn Superman and Hawkman just how my ten year old brain told me they were supposed to look, but something about them looked…off, somehow. I drew Superman and Hawkman right at eye level, but this Kubert guy drew them from high up looking down, which made the two of them look more… dynamic, somehow. It was strange. I looked and my drawing and Kubert’s drawing side-by-side, and there was no missing it – his page had something that mine didn’t. But how could that be? This Kubert guy couldn’t draw. So how come his page looked so much better than mine?

It was my first step towards understanding what a phenomenal artist Joe Kubert really was.

By 1989, I’d gotten a lot smarter and I’d developed an appreciation for Joe Kubert as an artist. I’d also heard of the Kubert School, a school up in Dover, New Jersey when he taught people to become comic book artists. One day, my dad saw an ad in the paper: the Kubert School was coming to Nashville for a weekend workshop! We made arrangements for me to go, and I got to take classes with Joe Kubert, Adam Kubert, Hy Eisman, and Irwin Hasen. We drew a comic page as our homework assignment Saturday night and had it critiqued the next day. I walked out of that two-day workshop feeling like I was twice the artist I was when I walked in. I also knew that I wanted to attend the Joe Kubert School someday. When the Kubert School came back to Nashville for another workshop the next year, I was there again.
In January of 1994, I set foot in New Jersey for the first time to interview at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. There was a massive snowstorm on the day that I flew in, and the airline lost my luggage on the trip up. All I had were my portfolio and the clothes on my back. The next day, I woke up to a phone call from the school, saying that the usual guy who interviewed prospective students was snowed in, so I’d be interviewing with Joe Kubert himself. In the ratty t-shirt and torn jeans I’d flown up in the day before. Great.

Joe smiled at me as I walked into his office. He said, “Well, we hear you’ve had a bit of trouble getting up here,” in a tone that was both sympathetic and understanding. Joe impressed me during the interview. He was smart, paternal, pragmatic, and much more up on the current state of comics than I would’ve expected a man his age to be. No question about it — Joe Kubert knew his stuff. But I must say I had a bit of trouble focusing entirely on the interview — YOU try concentrating on your interview when the original cover layout for Superman vs. Muhammad Ali is just a few feet to your right.
After my interview, as I waited for my cab to arrive, I admired one of the many pieces of original comic book art lining the halls. It was the cover for one the war books DC Comics published in the 70’s –G.I. Combat , Sgt. Rock – I forget which. As I stood there in silent admiration, Joe stepped out of his office, saw me looking at his cover, and smiled.

“Don’t look too closely at those — You’ll just see all the mistakes.”

The man was self-effacing, too. Damn.

Joe accepted me to the school, and I spent the next three years there working harder than I’d ever worked in my life. In May of 1997, I was about to graduate the Kubert School, and I was pretty down on myself. Three years of comic book boot camp had worn my self-esteem down to a nub. I became intensely self-critical, and as a consequence, I didn’t like much of what I was drawing. I’m ashamed to say that I hacked out a few of my final assignments for the school, just to get them done.

Joe knew this. And I think he also knew how disappointed with myself I was right then. I felt like a faker at our graduation ceremony that night.

As he shook my hand and handed me my diploma, Joe said, just loud enough for only me to hear:

“You’re going to make it, John.”

I believed him. Because Joe Kubert knew his stuff.

So thanks, Joe, for everything. But most of all, thank you for giving me a kind word when I needed it the most. We all admired Joe Kubert the artist, but I’m very thankful I also got the opportunity to admire Joe Kubert the man.

Touching stuff, everyone.

And an amazing amount of quality for such a quick turnaround (already these people have a quick turnaround – this week was even quicker than normal!).

You all did Kubert proud.

Bill Walko
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