The world lost Joe Kubert today.
Well, Joe Kubert the man. Joe Kubert the legacy is something that will live on forever, not just in the countless pages of comics he illustrated (including Tarzan, Sgt. Rock, Hawkman, Tor, Fax from Sarajevo, to name a few), but also the generations of artists trained through his Kubert School. The man was - is - a giant of the field, drawing right to the end, ever on the top of his game.
It’s cruel we’re losing him in the same year as Jean Giraud. The two are very similar - both are responsible for decade after decade of page after page of astonishing work so brilliant they light a fire under anyone to work harder. Both took a direct hand in bettering the generations to follow. Kubert with his school, Giraud building Metal Hurlant and being instrumental in a number of careers, including Geof Darrow.
Neither were satisfied with the status quo. Both strove to build better tomorrows. Just look at where the comics medium and industries were on their respective sides of the Atlantic when they started and where they are now. Look hard enough and you’ll see they were both hugely instrumental in this betterment.
They were immortals. Gods of comics. People you would never think would see at a convention and not even wonder if they would be there again. It felt like they always would be.
In some ways they will. As I said before, those pages they drew last forever. This is truer now more than ever, where we live in a golden age of reprints, where I can get the entire body of works by either man printed in - at the very least - their original languages.
We also live in a golden age of archiving footage from our past. My buddy Ian, the guy who curates the Moebius tumblr Quenched Consciousness, put up this YouTube clip of Kubert, Giraud and fellow comics god (thankfully still among us) Neal Adams on a 1972 episode of Tac au Tac.
Watching this clip made me pretty emotional. Like I said before, these are guys you were convinced would always be there. When a friend told me why Moebius wasn’t at Angouleme this past year, it just seemed absurd at first. How could someone like him possibly get sick?
Yet, they’re gone. Their time on Earth has passed.
Watching the clip really reinforced the importance of appreciating those we care for and admire while they’re still here. The fact Kubert passed the same weekend as Mike Wieringo and Mark Gruenwald did years before drives the point home even further. It also reinforced the absurdity of dwelling in those works you loathe, choosing to snark over things you dislike when the people you love have an expiration date.
There are so many women and men working in comics who have formed my life - creatively, professionally, personally - into what it is today. Some directly, some from afar, some strictly from pages I’ve read and poured over. Some have worked nearly as long as Kubert and Giraud. Some are just getting their start. If anything, this cruel, cruel year reinforces the importance of appreciating the time you have with those you admire.
They may be giants, but no one lives forever.
To those who have had such an impact on me, thank you.
I’m mulling over some way I can express this fully. Some way I can pay homage to all they’ve done. For now, I hope they somehow know they’re appreciated, loved and admired.