In the fifth of a series of nine weekly tributes to the great artists of the Silver Age, Arlen Schumer looks at the gritty expressiveness of JOE KUBERT.
UPDATED 9/18/16: Today would have been Joe Kubert’s 90th birthday, so we’re re-presenting this excellent piece by Arlen Schumer, adapted from his superb book The Silver Age of Comic Book Art. Enjoy.
Arlen’s The Silver Age of Comic Book Art is revised and back in print, a lustrously illustrated hardcover, coffee-table book. Across nine weeks we’re serializing excerpts from nine chapters, shining a deserving spotlight on greats like Ditko, Kirby, Kubert, Steranko and more.
(Info on ordering the book is below! — Dan):
By ARLEN SCHUMER
Along with his contemporaries, Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane, Joe Kubert (1926-2012) entered the comic book field in the 1940s as a teenager drawing for DC Comics, then went on to become one of the giants of the medium, an artist whose style was unmistakable — and unforgettable — the most expressive pen-and-brush comic book artist of his generation.
Kubert’s name and style became synonymous with war comics during the Silver Age because of years of service drawing World War II’s heroic American Sgt. Rock, and then later, the offbeat antihero, World War I German flyer Enemy Ace. Both became signature characters; Kubert’s gritty pen line and bold brushwork perfectly suited writer and editor Bob Kanigher’s emotionally wrenching writing.
“Some people have asked me if the war stuff was material I especially liked doing,” Kubert said, “and my answer has been no, it wasn’t; Bob had an opening, he needed war stories, and he asked me if I could do it. I said sure, give me any subject matter and I’ll draw it. It wasn’t because I had any particular feeling for it — I put as much effort into doing it as I would in any kind of story.”
Even superhero stories: In the early ’60s, Kubert maintained continuity with his ’40s roots by returning to Hawkman, a character rendered by many artists since, but given his most definitive treatment by Kubert, despite a brief run of only six issues.
What accounted for Kubert’s lasting popularity and legend-in-his-own-time status?
“I happen to love to draw. And I happen to love to draw comic books. I enjoy it as much now, probably more, than I did before.”
NEXT: GENE COLAN
To order a signed hardcover from Arlen directly, hit up www.arlenschumer.com. There are also links to Archway Publishing (an offshoot of Simon & Schuster) for the unsigned hardcover and an e-book edition.