As you may have already heard, comics legend Joe Kubert passed away this weekend at age 85. I've expressed the opinion that he was my favorite artist of all time before, and it's a statement I've never been inspired to retract. Now he is gone, and he leaves us a huge legacy of comics work, sons who went into comics themselves, and countless students who benefited from the Kubert School. I once did a post just to showcase his art, with barely any other content. He's one of the few artists who have their own label on Your Daily Splash Page. How can I further pay him tribute? Well, I've been thinking about what my first Joe Kubert comic might have been. It wasn't a war comic, or a "primitive" adventure (Tarzan, Tor, Firehair), even if those are what he's best known for. No, it was a superhero comic: DC Comics Presents #66 (Feb. 1984).
Kubert hadn't done much superhero work since the Hawkman days, especially not interiors, though he produced amazing covers for all sorts of comics right up to the 2010s. So a Superman/Demon story was an unusual event, and look, DC even advertized his name on the cover, something that wasn't regularly done at the time (not on DCP anyway). But of course, I had no way of knowing this. I was all of 12 in November of '83 when this book was on the stands, at a time in my life when I might pick up just about anything, and when one artist was probably as good as the next, mostly interchangeable.
But I knew there were some artists whose work was distinctly different, and this Joe Kubert was one of them. His line work is so bold, expressive and confident that it looks like it was done in ink directly. This particular issue stands up today, no surprise, thanks to its dynamic art. Even his signature is awesome! DCP was full of one-off villains, and #66's Blackbriar Thorn, a big wooden druid, was one of these, but he still managed to sneak into Crisis on Infinite Earths and Who's Who, probably because Kubert made him so appealing visually. And Kubert must also be the reason Geoff Johns resurrected B.T. in the 2000s as a JSA villain. He's only 2 years younger than I am, so the perfect age to get struck by the Kubert lightning.
You will be missed, Master Kubert. There will never be another like you, though you live on in Andy and Adam and the many other illustrators he inspired and mentored. The silver lining for me is that I know I haven't seen or read all of your work yet. A tearful joy awaits me in that exploration.