Monday, 20 August 2012


My obituary of Joe Kubert, the great comic book artist, is in today's Independent; you can link to it here. Kubert would be remarkable simply for the length of his working career, from the age of 13 or so to just before his death at 85. It saw him work for the best studios, of Harry Chesler and Will Eisner, for DC during the both the Golden and Silver Ages, pioneer 3-D, work on the classic EC war comics, and, late in his career, excel with the added freedom the mini-series and graphic novel formats provided.

In that history he resembled Eisner, a comparison I probably could have made in the obit. Both men did late graphic novels centered on their experience growing up as first-generation Jewish Americans, both delved into their Jewish roots, and both were able to wring great emotion from their art while doing it. The one parallel I felt compelled to make was between Kubert and those Korean War films I mentioned: there is more than a little of Mann and Fuller and their sensibilities in his war work.

That I didn't spin off into comparisons was mostly because Kubert's career was so full I found it impossible to keep to my word limit. Similarly, I would have loved to write a few lines on the differences between Kubert's and other Tarzans (not just Foster, but Roy Krenkel springs to mind as an interesting comparison), as well as his work on Tor and Korak, and it might be fun to examine his influence on other artists, and the confluence at DC of him, Neal Adams, and Gil Kane.

At the peak of the Marvel renaissance, it was easy to see Kane's work as being wasted in what we thought of as the standard DC comics fare. Adams, working with Denny O'Neil, famously changed the perceptions of DC, but Kubert received far too little credit at the time (though he has received it since) for the quality of his work--and Bob Kanigher probably deserves more too for bringing more adult themes into DC. Enemy Ace was one, and Ragman, memorably another.

But as I say, I was pressed for space.  I probably should have mentioned Dong Xaoi (2010) his Vietnam graphic novel, which might serve as a bookend to his memorable career. And memorable it was, and it was a privilege for me to remember it in print. Make War No More indeed.

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