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More on Joe Kubert

Photo by Athos Bousvaros

The photo I ran of Joe Kubert was kinda old but the only other one I had made him look kinda old…or at least a lot older than he really was when I took it at the 2010 WonderCon. Fortunately, Athos Bousvaros sent me the above photo which he took at the Boston Comicon in October of 2010. That's a lot more how I remember the recent Joe. Thanks, Athos.

The New York Times has an obit up for Joe. This is kind of a macabre way of looking at things but one indicator of how comics have become mainstream is that newspapers routinely acknowledge the passing of someone like Joe…and in this case, the Times did it pretty darn fast. Back when Bill Everett died in 1973, there was nothing in the paper about it. I don't recall any obits when Wally Wood died in 1981. But now it's presumed that a large section of the population knows of and cares about guys like Joe. And they do.

Also, an online column for the Washington Post solicited thoughts on Joe from a number of his friends and admirers.

I don't have much to add to what I wrote on Sunday. I do keep thinking about the ease with which Joe drew. There are some very fine artists who labor hard…who sweat each panel and erase and redraw and when they finish a story, they feel like they spent eight days pouring concrete in the hot sun. Ross Andru, working often on much the same comics as Joe, used to erase panels over and over and was never quite satisfied. Joe just sat down and drew and it came out pretty much the way he wanted it to look.

And he loved doing it. If I'm still writing when I'm 85, I hope I'm enjoying it as much as Joe enjoyed drawing. I'll be satisfied with enjoying it half as much.

Someone asked me to explain the foreign and domestic business-type problems that ended his acclaimed run on Tarzan. I was working for the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate at the time and also for DC Comics so I had good seats for both sides. I'll try to get to this next week when deadlines are easier around here. Basically, though many of us loved what Joe did, the sales in the U.S. were not up there and the interest of foreign publishers (who were then the primary market as far as the E.R.B. folks were concerned) wasn't there either. But Joe did a number of amazing issues as you can see in the printed pages and as you can especially see in a new hardcover, large format book coming from IDW.

But I did want to take another look at one line in the N.Y. Times obit. It's the one where they said…

In addition, Mr. Kubert was considered one of the definitive interpreters of Tarzan.

This really has nothing do with Joe but is that a proper use of the word, "definitive?" Flipping through my dictionaries here and online, I don't find a real definitive definition of "definitive" but I get the sense that it's supposed to suggest the one complete version, the one that defines the subject matter for all others. Can you have multiple definitive examples of something? I'm just askin'.

In any case, I thought Joe's interpretation was interesting because it was one of many. I didn't like everything he did with the character but the things he did well, I thought he did better than all the other guys who ever drew Lord Greystoke.