DC Uses Joe Kubert’s Passing As a Chance to Sell Before Watchmen Comics

Joe Kubert, 85, a comics legend and educator of several generations of artists, passed away on Sunday, August 12.

Kubert’s reach was vast and his status was legendary from his lifetime in the business. He founded the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic  Art. His two sons, Andy and Adam, are well-known and acclaimed artists in their own right.

Joe Kubert began in the Golden Age of comics and produced stunning work until his death. He was best know for Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, Tarzan, Tor, and Hawkman. I identify him more with Tarzan, my first exposure to his work, and with Rock, the everyman trying to do the right thing in the midst of war.

My first exposure to Joe Kubert was DC’s Tarzan Comics.

The hard part of writing a tribute to Kubert is narrowing it down, as his influence and his reach were vast. But DC Comics had no problem narrowing in on what work to showcase in their initial statement over his passing. They plugged his work on Nite-Owl as part of the Before Watchmen comics.

A screencap of DC Comics initial statement on the passing of Joe Kubert.

As one of the comments on the original noted, all the initial statement is lacking is a “Buy Now!” button.

This is especially troubling, given that many in the industry see DC Comics’ prequel to Watchmen as a money grab, including Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore.

The internet quickly rose up against the terse statement and DC expanded it.

“We are saddened to learn of the death of our colleague and friend Joe Kubert. An absolute legend in the industry, his legacy will live on through his remarkable talent, with his sons and with the many artists who have passed through the storied halls of his celebrated school.  An important member of the DC Comics family, Joe made an indelible mark on the entire DC Comics universe including his renowned and award-winning work on iconic characters such as Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, Hawkman and most recently Nite Owl.  We are so honored to have worked side-by-side with such an unforgettable force in both comics and in life.” – DC Entertainment Executive Team.

Several comic professionals let their displeasure be known in the comments on the original DC post.

This reminds me of John Landis’ eulogy for Vic Morrow. Landis went on and on about how much Vic thought his performance in Twilight Zone: The Movie was the best of his career and how Morrow thanked him for including him in this marvelous production. Landis only stopped when someone shouted out “Why don’t you just show the f***** trailer?”–Chuck Dixon

This is what happens when a PR flack writes a memorial. Come on, DC, show the great man some respect with a retraction and a rewrite.–Larry Hama

Mark Waid vented on his twitter stream: “Agreed. Much more nicely said than what’s on DC’S F****** FACEBOOK PAGE. Fire whoever wrote that. Please.”

Waid also pointed to a far better obituary for Kubert in The Washington Post. Other creators, however, showed Kubert the respect he so richly deserved in personal tributes. But nothing speaks as eloquently for him as his own work. Comic Book Resources has a terrific selection of his covers and NPR has a tribute that includes links to his work. For those familiar with his work, the covers are a reminder of what a great artist he was. For those unfamiliar with his work, his art is eye-opening.

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