Joe Kubert, a co-creator of the DC Comics WWII character Sgt. Rock and the prehistoric adventurer Tor, passed away today in New Jersey at 85.
Most of the exposure the young Friar had to Kubert's work was in his issues of Tarzan and covers for DC's other Edgar Rice Burroughs title, Weird Worlds. Kubert's dark, shadowy style seemed a little grim for his tastes and he didn't care much for soldier comics at the time. But that grim flavor gave just the right atmosphere for Rock's battles ("Nothin's ever easy in Easy Company," ) and Tor's savage world, as well as the otherworldly Hawkman.
Kubert proved one of the rare oldtimer artists able to take comic and graphic art to a higher level with 1996's Fax from Sarajevo, a non-fiction graphic work based on faxes from a man trapped in war-torn Sarajevo. It gained him both an Eisner and Harvey award, the comic industry's top two honors. He visited the horrors of war in a more personal dimension with Yossel: April 19, 1943, the story of a Jewish teenager in the Warsaw ghetto in the period leading up to the Warsaw Uprising. Kubert's family had emigrated from his birthplace in Poland when he was very young, but had they not then Kubert might have been young Yossel.
Two of Kubert's sons are also comic book artists, with styles reminiscent of their father's. They, some of Kubert's other children and his wife help run the Kubert School in Dover, New Jersey. It's the only accredited technical school in the country dedicated solely to the training of people who want to be comic book or comic strip artists. Many of the school's alums are well-known names in the modern comic field.