Joe Kubert was a very physical guy. He was built solidly and moved like a natural athlete. The few times I played touch football with him, he could hit anyone on the field with a perfect spiral. In the winter he wore a forty pound whale skin parka to build his strength. He was a ferocious racket ball competitor into his late 70’s. When I saw him two years ago he looked like he could wrestle a tiger and pin it three out of three.
I think this physical side of Joe was an essential part of his drawing. He lived four-square inside his body and knew exactly how it moved and this translated into exciting anatomy and action scenes in his comics. (Two other great anatomists in comics were also physical guys: Frank Frazetta and Jack Kirby).
He tooled around in a cool yellow Triumph TR6 convertible. Not because he was a show off but because he loved being at the wheel of a taut little roadster with the top down. I could relate because my first cars had been British two seaters and these days I keep a Miata as my summer driver.
He was a man of tremendous moral character. It wasn’t a morality born out of conservatism or liberalism, but from his heritage and life experience. He saw value in everyone. He believed hard work should be rewarded. He understood the creative buzz and fostered it in others.
But it wasn’t just give, give, give, with Joe. There were things Joe wanted back out of the Kubert School experience and one of those was the opportunity to learn what made my generation tick. By 1976, the old way of telling stories wasn’t working in the marketplace. Tastes in humor and fantasy were changing and we students engaged Joe in a lively cross-cultural debate. He related to our geeky fascination with horror and violence but questioned if commercial publishers in America could ever embrace that kind of material. He introduced us to the European masters like Pratt, Moebius and Druillet. He started his own over-sized self published comic to explore the form.
I’ve always thought his brilliant cover to SOJOURN #2, reflected what he was inhaling from us that first year. It’s stranger and scarier than what he was doing in the mainstream at the time and seems to revel in the “monster for monster’s sake” esthetic which we lived by.
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