In 1975 I attended a small northern California comic convention at the picturesque Claremont hotel which looked like a big pink castle against the green Berkeley hills. At this convention I met my now old friend Brent Anderson, Frank Sirocco and a few other young wanna be artists, maybe Steve Lealoha too. Word went out among this group that none other than Joe Kubert would come up to someone's room around 10 that night to look at our art. So I went up and enjoyed getting to know my contemporaries. Joe was late , but eventually showed up, I believe with Sergio Aragones. Joe took his time, he was always interested in young artists and very generous with them. He looked at all of our work, and particularly clicked with me in part due to our mutual admiration for the character Tarzan. Several months later he sent me a flyer announcing he was opening a school. On the flyer he had hand-written "If you come to my school I'll get you into comics". That was an offer I couldn't refuse, so off I went from sunny California to the wilds of Northern New Jersey.
Joe's art has a force of nature quality to it, and so did Joe. it's still hard to quite believe he's gone. I remember one glorious sunny day at Kubert school someone decided we should have a football game. We scrawny and/or over-weight artist types divided into teams and played each other, then Joe decided it would be all 10 or so of us against him. Joe won the football game.
He was like that, a one man team. He could and did edit, write, layout, pencil, ink color and publish absolutely top notch comics. Always producing superior work with strong emotional impact. He also loved collaborating with others, and did often and with great results.
Joe and I remained friends and always enjoyed seeing each other over the years. He congratulated me on my triumphs and sympathized when things didn't work out. My last note from him congratulated me on getting the Prince Valiant strip. We were both huge Hal Foster fans and both hugely influenced by Foster's art.
One of the most important things I learned from Joe was the importance of "getting up a head of steam" as he put it. This is what I obviously needed to hear, and he sensed it. In fact he seemed to "sense" everything, including how, why and what to draw. Describing his work can be difficult, but lets just say that he didn't have any trouble working up a head of steam. There is a virtual electric current running through his art. Everything is in just the right place with just the right amount of work put into it.
He was terrific, and we all miss him.