The image above was
sketched during the graduation dinner for the Class of 2012 of The Kubert
School. I’d been to a few of these
things and Joe Kubert usually talked about all the hard work the graduates had
been through, what was ahead of them in life, but as I sketched Joe at the
podium, I connected with what he was saying, he was telling this huge room full
of people about his need to draw.
My association with Joe Kubert began long before I had any
idea who he was or that anyone could make a living drawing comics. It was his artwork that caught my eye in the
drugstore’s comic book spinner rack, on the covers of OUR ARMY AT WAR featuring
SGT. ROCK, G.I. COMBAT and STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES. I devoured the stories
inside and with time came to recognize the different artists who drew them.
I was fascinated with the images of war, mesmerized by
stories of combat and captivated by the covers drawn by Joe Kubert. Each cover
image seemed to place a valiant soldier in mortal peril or illustrate a
daunting, neigh, impossible challenge. Joe’s covers promised a life and death
In the spring of 1980 I applied to The Joe Kubert School for
Cartooning and Graphic Art. In September of that year I left Ohio behind and
started classes at the school. It was the start of a new life.
To tell you the truth, I don’t remember much of what Joe
Kubert said at orientation or in class, I do remember themes that occurred over
and over again when Joe spoke, hard work, the importance of meeting deadlines,
the focus one needed to make a living doing what one loved. At the time I was
less a fan of Joe’s art than that of artists like Michael Kaluta, Barry Windsor
Smith and Moebius. I certainly respected Joe’s command of the medium, reviewing
your work he could easily point out a way to improve the storytelling or add
I had some clashes with Joe, mostly technical stuff. I once
got called on the carpet for using airbrush on a black and white ink
assignment. But damn, you just didn’t want to disappoint him, and his
assignment always took precedence over all others.
I didn’t think I could afford a third year’s tuition and
living expenses so after two years at the school I left to pursue work. I
didn’t return to Ohio however, I stayed in Dover for two reasons, a girl, and
the opportunity to remain in the creative community of friends I’d made at the
school. I took on whatever freelance I could find and worked several part time
jobs. One part time job was posing as an artist’s model for the students at the
school. I only mention this because I filled in for a few night classes and
there in the back of the class was Joe Kubert drawing me.
Several years later I ran into Joe at a New York comic convention,
unsure if he’d remember me, he might not remember the name so quickly but there
was recognition in his eyes. He was glad to see me glad to hear I was doing all
right. Later seeing him briefly up at Marvel comics offices there was
recognition and I think a sense of pride in both of us. Me, that I had made it
into the comic book business and for him, that one of his guys was working in
the field he loved.
In 1999 I needed work. I contacted Mike Chen at the Kubert
School and asked about the possibility of any job openings. Soon after that call
I got a call back from Mike, Tex Blaisdell was in the hospital, could I fill
in? Sadly, Tex passed away that spring and I took his place on staff at the
Teacher’s meeting took place in Joe’s office, an awe-inspiring
place filled with artwork and awards. There was a huge meeting table around
which we would gather in the center of the room and on top of that a Fredrick
Remington sculpture of an Indian atop a pony at full gallop. In the corner of
the room was Joe’s massive drawing table, and on it whichever of his latest
project he was working on.
You could tell he loved his family fiercely, I once asked
what happened to the Roy Crane Sunday page that had been hanging in the hall
outside his office. He pointed to the photo of his Grandson in graduation cap
and gown and said this was something more important. There was a sense that by
attending the school or working there, we were an extension of his family. Joe
always stressed that just because you were finished with the school your
association with it didn’t end, you were always welcome back.
Joe Kubert passed away Sunday August 12th 2012.
Joe made you feel included, with his more than firm
handshake or the strong jovial slap on the back, I’m going to miss those. But
much more than that, I’m going to miss the man who lead by example, the man who
challenged you and encouraged you to do your best and the man who more than
shared and understood, the need to
This wonderful drawing arrived in the mail yesterday. I first met Gary in September of 1980, I remember clearly, we were standing by the pool at the Kubert School and we were introduced by Mike Chen. Later, Gary became my roommate at the Carriage House and he's been a friend ever since.
ZONE and Ultra enjoying a summer day in the Meadowlands. This was done for the 1991 AMAZING HEROES Swimsuit Special.
This image of Ultra is based on Lourdes Sanchez, my girlfriend at the time, although the face is entirely my own invention - the swimsuit was deep red. Scattered next to Ultra's towel is some of my favorite reading material from 1991, THE JAM by Bernie Mirault, YUMMY FUR by Chester Brown and EIGHTBALL by Danial Clowes.
This was done for my student Val. Some people who collect sketches have themes for their sketchbook and when I asked Val if she had a theme for her sketchbook she said I could do what ever I wanted but if I wanted to I could do her favorite character Kitty Pryde. For anyone who doesn't know, Kitty Pryde is one of Marvel Comics X-MEN.
I was sitting in a movie theater yesterday, I was watching the adventures of a man
from Earth mysteriously transported to Mars when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I took a quick
look at the message - Moebius has died - RIP JEAN GIRAUD. I thought the
setting was somehow fitting, as Moebius had transported me to so many other worlds.
I first became aware of Moebius in 1977 when NATIONAL LAMPOON began
advertising their new adult fantasy magazine HEAVY METAL. The first issue of
HEAVY METAL has a cover date of April 1977 and contains my first real exposure
to Moebius. His silent eight-page ARZACH was the most compelling story
in the issue. Its world was as mysterious to me as its creator, Moebius.
The world of 1977 was far different than the world of Google and Wikipedia
that exists today. There was nowhere I could go to get more information about
the artist whose drawings fascinated me. Luckily, his work appeared in each
subsequent issue of HEAVY METAL and over time I learned more about him.
Jean Giraud was a modern comic book master, as Moebius his work took me to
far distant worlds of the future, and as Gir he took me to the hostile Southwest
Territories following the Civil War. He was honored in France with a postage
stamp and last year there was an amazing retrospective at The Foundation Cartier
pour l'arts Contemporain in Paris. In addition to his comic book work he did design work for live action films
and animation, his work entertained and inspired. He opened a door that I
gladly stepped through.
I was lucky enough to meet Moebius twice. The first time was at an opening
of his work at friend’s art gallery in Philadelphia in 1986. I was nervous and
gave him copies of the newly published THREAT! which contained ZONE.
a young starving artist I could only afford to buy a postcard for him to sign.
met him again six years later in the Marvel Comics Bullpen. Marvel was
publishing collections of his work and he was visiting the office for the day.
He had come out to the bullpen to sign copies of his books for members of the
staff. I had copies of his books but they were sitting on my shelf at home. I
approached him with a blank piece of Bristol board, the scrap that is left over
when they trimmed Marvel’s original art board down to size. Seeking only his autograph he took the
board from me and drew a picture of man standing in a corner, pointing to a
drawing of a man standing in a corner, pointing to a drawing… his own Möbius strip. Unfortunately I’m unable to scan it as it is framed under
glass and has been hanging on one wall or the other since I got it back from
the framer twenty years ago.
My world was much richer because of Moebius, his work
inspired mine and his storytelling beguiled me. Imagine now how much more
precious is the note he scribbled to me.
through my sketchbook for some ZONE sketches to post I found this three
page story I had forgotten about. I was experimenting with a style that
was inspired by Mike Mignola's take on EDDY CURRENT that appeared in
issues # 9, 10 and 11 of Ted McKeever's METROPOL.
was working in the Marvel Bullpen and had done the lettering paste-up
on some of the pages. When I later saw Mignola in the office one day I
told him how much I liked his work on the book.
I did a minimal amount of clean up on these, the borders were inked with a Sharpie® and had bled through some of the pages.
This in another case of... The Curse of the 2H Pencil! I tried to adjust the levels but to no avail.
I'm posting this not because I think it's a great sketch or that I've run out of other material (I've got plenty more) but it shows how things sometimes start and then just...
I found this the other day while I was looking for something else and the simplicity of the line just struck me.
There's faint traces of a word balloon to the right of ZONE'S head, all that I can make out from the original drawing is, TRIPPING IN NORTH... and then just the letters A and R. Your guess is as good as mine.