Remembering Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert passed away yesterday and I’ve been thinking about the times we shared and the profound influence he had on my life.  I was twenty-five when I met him (and yes, his handshake is rightfully legendary). It was 1976 and I was  interviewing for Joe’s soon to open cartooning school.  Knowing he was a golden age artist, I guess I expected an older gentleman but Joe was in his early fifties and looked like he was thirty-five. He welcomed me warmly and spoke passionately about his hopes and plans for the school. He explained how fortunate he had been to come up under a studio system where older cartoonists had made time to teach him the tricks of the trade.  His goal was to give back by keeping that tradition alive.

I was terrified that my portfolio wouldn’t make the grade but when he saw the printed copy of TWO-FISTED ZOMBIES he responded with grinning amazement.    I tried to explain it was a couple years old and not my best stuff and the content was a little *kof* undergroundy but he didn’t care.  He was seeking out young artists for whom comic books were a “calling” and I think he recognized this quality in me on our first meeting.  He carefully went through my other samples and showed me French magazines with Drulliet and Moebius.  He looked me right in the eye and said “You are just the kind of guy this school wants.”

I didn’t have a pot to piss in, much less the money for tuition. But Joe’s wife, Muriel, told me about a new government job training program called CETA.  That summer I talked my way up the Vermont CETA hierarchy trying to convince them to pay for cartooning college. They were skeptical and couldn’t provide a decision before school went into session.  I called Joe to let him know and he said “Come down anyway.  I’ve spoken with Muriel and we’ll make it work somehow.”

Right there, the two of them handed me the first key to the kingdom.

 

More soon.

6 Comments »

6 Comments so far

  1. MarsHottentot August 13th, 2012 2:39 pm

    Really sad to hear this – I knew you’d have a great story about him. Thanks for sharing, Rick.

  2. [...] make it work somehow.” Right there, the two of them handed me the first key to the kingdom. - Remembering Joe Kubert by Rick [...]

  3. Scott Beachler August 13th, 2012 6:15 pm

    Hey Rick,

    It’s a sad day for all former Kubert School students. I never entered the comic book field, but what I learned at the school helped me throughout my 23+ year career working in Public Television. I still have a great love for comics and Joe was always one of my favorites even before he was one of my mentors. I recently saw a video online of him at a convention in Chicago. He seamed as fiery and alive as ever. So it was a little shocking to hear that he’s gone.

  4. Rick August 16th, 2012 11:53 am

    Hi Scott! Glad to hear from you. I’m just back from the funeral and celebration of Joe’s life. What a guy, eh?

  5. Scott Beachler August 16th, 2012 3:57 pm

    Yeah, Joe was quite a guy. I think he would have been stunned by all of the press that he has been receiving. The only time I saw a cartoonist get this much press was when Charles Shultz died. Wish I could have made the funeral. It would have been nice to see everyone. I saw on the Kubert School website that Hy Eisman is still teaching there. Beside Joe, I learned the most from Hy and Tex. Take care.

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