Under the Radar

Joe Kubert, “Sgt. Rock” Illustrator, Dead at 85

MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- Legendary comic book artist Joe Kubert has died of cancer in New Jersey at age 85.

Kubert  passed away Sunday in Morristown, his son Adam said. Kubert had multiple myeloma.

During a career that began as a teenager in the 1930s Kubert illustrated and wrote a wide range of titles but probably was best known – and likely will be best remembered – for his work on “Our Army at War” and “Sgt. Rock.”

Through those comics Kubert helped tell the story of Army infantryman in World War II. In a 2003 interview with The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer Kubert said that: “For me, it was not about war and fighting but about the people, the characters."

Kubert was born in a village that was part of Poland at the time and is now in Ukraine. He immigrated to the United States with his family as an infant and grew up in New York's Brooklyn borough.

Rick Veitch, a comic book and graphic novel artist and writer, called Kubert “a giant who helped me and many others immensely.”

Veitch was among the first group of students to sign up for Kubert’s school for comic illustrators in the mid-1970s. After meeting with Kubert and his wife, Murial, and being encouraged to apply for a training program that would cover tuition, Veitch was disappointed when the money didn’t come through.

Writing about that in a web posting yesterday, Veitch said he called Kubert to let him know he wouldn’t be enrolling after all.

“ Come down anyway,’ “ he recalled Kubert telling him. “I’ve spoken with Muriel and we’ll make it work somehow.’ “

“Right there, the two of them handed me the first key to the kingdom,” Veitch said.

Kubert was one of the major artists at DC Comics, where he also illustrated Hawkman, among other titles. He also wrote and illustrated graphic novels about war such as "Fax From Sarajevo"  in 1996, "Yossel" in 2003 and "Dong Xoai" in 2010, UPI reported.

According to the New York Times, Kubert was still working before his death.

"He's the longest-lived continuously important contributor to the field," Paul Levitz, a former president of DC Comics, told the paper. "There are two or three of the greats left, but he's definitely one of the last."

United Press International contributed to this report.

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