Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pops Gallery: Joe Kubert's DC Comics Covers

Add mine to the list of comic book fans mourning the death on August 12th of Joe Kubert, one of the true legends of the industry. From his beginnings as a teenage cartoonist working at various studios in the 1940s, through his innovative work developing 3D comics in the 1950s, through a wildly successful decades-long run at DC Comics and finally a series of personal, Eisner-esque graphic novels, Kubert’s work remained exciting and vital right up to the end. In addition, his founding of the Kubert School in 1976 gave aspiring cartoonists, animators and illustrators a place to hone their craft in an environment that embraced their passions rather than held them in contempt (as remains the case at too many colleges and art schools).

Kubert’s loose, sketchy style was dynamic without being flashy (even when he was drawing the Flash), which always kept him from becoming a superstar in the field. But his exciting work on Hawkman, DC’s Sgt. Rock and other war titles, and his adaptation of Tarzan made him a favorite amongst fans of innovative cartooning rooted in a classical style.

For me, it was Kubert’s TARZAN that won me over. These books (running from 1972 to ’77) were maybe the most faithful translation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels in any adapted medium. For most of the run, Kubert not only wrote, penciled and inked the comics, he edited an entire line of adaptations of Burroughs’ characters. As a kid, I found Kubert’s jungle king to be a vibrant, exotic break from the sleek action of superheroes, and as I’ve gotten older, the books just keep looking better and better.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of odes to Kubert online right now, and anyone interested in learning about one of the most creative and inspirational artists in the history of the medium should spend some time checking them out.

I wanted to use this Pops Gallery to present just some of Kubert’s hundreds of amazing covers that he did for DC Comics during the period that I was grabbing them off the newsstands and comic shops, from the 1960s thru the ‘90s. Whittling this down to a manageable number was tough, and it’s still 40 covers. But it gives you an idea of the talent and range of this incredible artist. He will be missed.

All artwork is ©DC Comics, inc. 

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