Ego@NYCC Part 2: Joe Kubert

As you may be aware, Ego Friendly spent a day at New York Comic Con earlier this week. One of our main goals in going there was to speak to Comic Creators who truly personify an Ego Friendly lifestyle- people who have found not only success but happiness in doing the work they love and passing on that love to others.

Despite the noise and bustle of the Convention, Ego Friendly got to sit down with an impressive number of Comic luminaries such as Joe Kubert, Larry Marder, Neal Adams, Ramona Fradon, Peter David, Gene Colan, David Mack and Terry Moore. We also spoke to more recent stars of the field such as Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey and Tom Sidell. In our “Ego@NYCC” series we will be sharing, over the next two weeks, links to the videos of these interviews.

Joe Kubert is a legend of the Comic Book world. Coming to America from Eastern Europe at the age of two months, Kubert got his start in 1938, running errands and doing simple art for Harry Chesler at the age of 12 years old. It was in Chesler’s studio Kubert got advice from others and honed his craft but it wasn’t until 1942 that he would have a professionally published piece.

Sgt. Rock

Kubert Worked on a variety of titles throughout the next 30 years, eventually founding the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, an establishment that numbers some of the greatest comic artists working in the field today among it’s graduates and teachers.

Kubert’s work was not over, though; he continues drawing to this day, his most recent effort a return to his most famed character, DC’s Sgt. Rock in the “Wednesday Comics” line that company put out in 2009.

Joe Kubert’s love of his chosen profession is not only patently obvious to anyone who meets him but has inspired two of his sons to follow in his footsteps and become professional comic artists. An inductee into both the Harvey and Eisner Comic Book Halls of Fame, one wouldn’t know it upon talking to him. A soft spoken man who seems bemused by the success he, and the field he loves, have garnered.

Ego Friendly: We’re here at Comic Con with a Legend…

Joe Kubert: Err.

EF: You’re going to deny that?

JK: Well, yeah! I thought “Legend” was only used for people who are dead.

EF: This from a man who works in an industry whose largest award was named for someone who was still alive. [The Eisner’s, named for Will Eisner]

JK: Laughs

EF: As someone who has been in a field that has notoriously not had respect, has had thousands of ups and downs and controversies and with your personal life, how do  you just, keep going?

JK: …maybe because I’ve been so fortunate to work in the field I’m in, maybe becuase… I’m working at something I’ve always loved to do. …not that I’d want to do it for nothing…

EF: Well, In the early days wasn’t it kind of like that?

JK: Well, not really. Whatever dollars came in were very helpful, to me and my family… I can certainly say that. But it was never my primary reason for doing what I do. Regardless of what the times were or how much money I was making the fact that I was doing what I always loved to do, which was drawing. so, looking from one day to the next, ups and downs, as you put it, never was part of of what I was thinking… The most important thing is that I’m doing what I love to do.

EF: The school, the Joe Kubert School of Art, what inspired you to say, “Okay, you know what, we need to teach people how to do this. We have to find those people artist out there want to do this but don’t know how and teach them.”?

JK: That was never part of the reason… it was never about that. The motivation for opening  up the school was because I know that, in order to learn what guys have to know, in order to be.. successful in illustration. There was no one to teach it, except those that were already doing it, there were no schools that were teaching it, there were no areas of expertise where someone who was really highly motivated so you could learn… I picked it up from guys, they never taught me, they were kind enough to tell me, to show me… If there was ever a reason, a thought like the kidn of motivation you described was… If there was a toss-up between… drawing, doing my own work and having the school, the school would never be here. The school was always the last. As it works out, I had five children, my wife and I had five children. All the kids were out of the house, I had always had in the back of my mind, to one day start a place to learn all this stuff… It’s not like a I was a do-gooder or something. I thought, hell, people helped me- if I could do something that could make a difference to others who wanted to do the same thing, why the hell not? So, my wife was working on all the business side of stuff, all the kids were out of the house at that time and we took a crack at it. I never predicted that the school would last. I’m very proud of all the people who have come out of it, much obliged… But I can’t really say that that was my motivation for it… it just worked out that way.

EF: And what about the fact that you have sons that have followed you into the industry [of comic book illustration]

JK: That’s the whip cream…that’s the cherry on top of the whip cream!

EF: Do you think that part of it had to do with the fact that they saw how much you loved what you were doing when you would sit down to draw?

JK: I don’t know, I really don’t know.

EF: One last thing; we’re asking people at Comic Con today for their favorite bit of “Wisdom”, a quote or something that just keeps you going- do you have one?

JK: When I was about twelve years old I worked for this studio, I worked… for a guy by the name of Harry Chesler. Harry Chesler was a very kind guy.. I had a chair and a drawing table and he had these professionals give me a hand… Harry said to me once, still sticks with me, when I was having a tough time with some drawings I was doing, he said: “Stick to it, kid.” That’s all- “Stick to it.”

The video this interview is transcribed from can be found here.

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One Response to “Ego@NYCC Part 2: Joe Kubert”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Menachem Luchins, Menachem Luchins, Menachem Luchins, Menachem Luchins, Menachem Luchins and others. Menachem Luchins said: @JanArrah Just wanted to point you to @egocards interview with Joe Kubert- live tomorrow here: […]

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