One of comics' most prolific and respected comic book creators, Joe Kubert, died this morning at the age of 85. This probably comes as a special jolt to those who knew him and thought of him as a healthy, vital individual. Joe drew stories of strong, rugged men and unlike so many who do those, seemed like a strong, rugged man himself. Whether it was a war comic, a super-hero comic, a comic about a caveman or his acclaimed run on Tarzan, Joe had a way of imbuing the work with a kind of four-color testosterone. No one did malebetter.
I suppose in private he had other passions but those who knew him professionally knew of two: He loved to draw and he loved to teach. The love of drawing began at early age. He was born in Poland on September 18, 1926 and brought to the U.S. (to Brooklyn) as an infant. Reared as the son of a Kosher butcher, he started doodling on dad's wrapping paper and soon proved to have the kind of flair on which you could build a career.
Joe told several stories about where and when he got his first professional job. In some, he was as young as ten; in others, as old as thirteen. Even the latter would be amazing. But he started young either in the shop of Harry "A" Chesler or at MLJ, now better known as Archie comics, and was quickly promoted from office boy to art apprentice to artist. He was definitely drawing stories under his own signature by 1942 when he was sixteen. That would have been for a company called Holyoke.
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