Joe Kubert
By: David Smay | Categories: Comics, HiLo Heroes

Three artists ushered DC into its Silver Age: Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, and JOE KUBERT (born Yoisef Kubert, 1926-2012). Marvel built its empire on the strange, dynamic foundation of Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko’s visionary work and historically that overshadows the classicism of the DC artists. But Kubert isn’t simply one of the greatest draftsmen to ever work in the medium, he’s the most humanly scaled — and the most soulful. This is how much I love Joe Kubert: As a kid I wouldn’t read Kirby’s cartoony Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos because I couldn’t betray Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. (Kubert’s characters — Ice Cream Soldier, Jackie, Wild Man, Bulldozer — suffered. You felt it.) Kubert is an absolute master of anatomy and composition, one of the rare few of his generation who inked most of his own pencils. His line was expressive and sinewy, slashing to the emotional core of every scene; even something as simple as Tarzan idly stroking Tantor’s head held a lifetime in a gesture. (And let it be said, Kubert’s Tarzan is better than Hal Foster’s, Burne Hogarth’s, Johnny Weismuller’s, Disney’s — better even than Edgar Rice Burroughs’.) Another favorite of mine is Kubert’s collaboration with Bob Kanigher on Enemy Ace, an unmatched portrayal of the thrill of aerial combat and the story behind the German ace’s haunted eyes. Kubert’s art changes how you see people, makes you conscious of their vulnerability, their strength, their humanity. Sometimes when I see my son in profile I can see where he broke his nose playing baseball and I think, “He earned that. That’s a Kubert nose.”

***

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Greta Garbo.

READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).

Share

MORE POSTS by

David Smay is the co-editor of two books about pop music, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, and Lost in the Grooves. He's also the author of Swordfishtrombones, the 33 1/3 series entry on Tom Waits. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.