Joe Kubert was born at Yzeran, Poland. He emigrated to Brooklyn, New York City, United States, at age two months with his parents and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister Ida. Raised in the East New York neighborhood, the son of a kosher butcher, Kubert started drawing at an early age, encouraged by his parents.
In his introduction to his graphic novel Yossel, Kubert wrote, "I got my first paying job as a cartoonist for comic books when I was eleven-and-a-half or twelve years old. Five dollars a page. In 1938, that was a lot of money". Another source, utilizing quotes from Kubert, says in 1938, a school friend who was related to Louis Silberkleit, a principal of MLJ Studios (the future Archie Comics), urged Kubert to visit the company, where he began an unofficial apprentice and at age 12 "was allowed to ink a rush job, the pencils of Bob Montana's [teen-humor feature] ' Archie'". Author David Hajdu, who interviewed Kubert and other comics professionals for the book The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), reported, however, that:
Kubert has told varying versions of the story of his introduction to the comics business at age ten, sometimes setting it at the comics shop run by Harry "A" Chesler, sometimes at MLJ; however, MLJ did not start operation until 1939, when Kubert was thirteen.
Kubert attended Manhattan's High School of Music and Art. During this time he and classmate Norman Maurer, a future collaborator, would sometimes skip school in order to see publishers. Kubert began honing his craft at the quirkily named Harry "A" Chesler's studio, one of the comic-book "packagers" that had sprung up in the medium's early days to supply outsourced comics to publishers. Kubert's first known professional job was penciling and inking the six-page story "Black-Out", starring the character Volton, in Holyoke Publishing's Catman Comics #8 (March 1942; also listed as vol. 2, #13). He would continuing drawing the feature for the next three issues, and was soon doing similar work for Fox Comics' Blue Beetle. Branching into additional art skills, he began coloring the Quality Comics reprints of future industry legend Will Eisner's The Spirit, a seven-page comics feature that as part of a newspaper Sunday-supplement.
Professional Comics Career
Early Freelance Period and Creation of 'Tor'
Kubert's first work for DC Comics, where he would spend much of his career and produce some of his most notable art, was penciling and inking the 50-page " Seven Soldiers of Victory" superhero-team story in Leading Comics #8 (Fall 1943), published by a DC predecessor company, All-American Comics. Through the decade, Kubert's art would also appear in comics from Fiction House, Harvey Comics, but he was otherwise worked exclusively for All-American and DC.
In the 1950s, he became managing editor of St. John Publications, where he, his old classmate Norman Maurer, and Norman's brother Leonard Maurer produced the first 3-D comic books, starting with Three Dimension Comics #1 (Sept. 1953 oversize format, Oct. 1953 standard-size reprint), featuring Mighty Mouse. According to Kubert, it sold a remarkable 1.2 million copies at 25 cents apiece at a time when comics cost a dime.
At St. John, with writer Norman Maurer, Kubert created the enduring character Tor, a prehistoric-human protagonist who debuted in the comic 1,000,000 Years Ago (Sept. 1953). Tor immediately went on to star in 3-D Comics #2-3 (Oct.-Nov. 1953), followed by a titular, traditionally 2-D comic-book series, written and drawn by Joe Kubert, that premiered with issue #3 (May 1954). The character has gone on to appear in series from Eclipse Comics, Marvel Comics' Epic imprint, and DC Comics through at least the 1990s. Kubert in the late 1950s unsuccessfully attempted to sell Tor as a newspaper comic strip.
DC Comics career
Beginning with Our Army At War #32 (March 1955), Kubert began to freelance again for DC Comics, in addition to Lev Gleason Publications and Atlas Comics, the 1950s iteration of Marvel Comics. By the end of the year he was drawing for DC exclusively, working on such characters as the medieval adventurer Viking Prince, the superhero Hawkman, which would become one of his signature efforts, and, in the war comic GI Combat, features starring Sgt. Rock and The Haunted Tank, two more signature strips
From 1965 through 1967 he collaborated with author Robin Moore on the syndicated daily comic strip Tales of the Green Beret for the Chicago Tribune.
Kubert served as DC Comics' director of publications from 1967 to 1976. During his tenure with DC, Kubert initiated titles based on such Edgar Rice Burroughs properties as Tarzan and Korak. Kubert also supervised the production of the comic books Sgt. Rock, Ragman and Weird Worlds. While performing supervisory duties he continued to draw for some books, notably Tarzan from 1972 to 1975. Kubert also did covers for Rima the Jungle Girl from 1974 to 1975. Also inked the first appearance issue of Barry Allen in Showcase #4.
Characters Created by Joe Kubert
In 1976, Joe and his wife Muriel founded the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey.
Kubert wrote and drew a collection of faith-based comic strips beginning in the late 1980s for Tzivos Hashem, the Lubavitch children's organization, and Moshiach Times magazine. The stories, "The Adventures of Yaakov and Yosef", were based on Biblical references, but were not Bible stories. Many were based on stories of the Lubavitcher Rebbes and their disciples.
Kubert made a return to writing and drawing in 1991 with the Abraham Stone graphic novel 'Country Mouse, City Rat' for Malibu Comics Platinum Editions. He returned to the character for two more stories, 'Radix Malorum' and 'The Revolution' published by Epic Comics in 1995.
Also for Epic Comics, he delivered the 4-issue Tor series in 1993. 1996 saw the publication of Fax from Sarajevo, initially released as a 207-page hardcover book and two years later as a 224-page trade paperback. The non-fiction book originated as a series of faxes from European comics agent Ervin Rustemagić during the Serbian siege of Sarajevo. Rustemagić and his family, whose home and possessions in suburban Dobrinja were destroyed, spent two-and-a-half years in a ruined building, communicating with the outside world via fax when they could. Friend and client Kubert was one recipient. Collaborating long-distance, they collected Rustemagić's account of life during wartime, with Kubert and editor Bob Cooper turning the raw faxes into a somber comics tale.
Kubert drew a pencil-illustrated graphic novels,Yossel: April 19, 1943 (2003) and 'Jew Gangster' (2005) both from IBooks. In 2003, Kubert returned to the Sgt. Rock character, illustrating ' Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place' a six-issue miniseries written by Brian Azzarello and wrote and drew "Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy", a six-issue miniseries in 2006. 2005 also saw the publication of ' Tex, The Lonesome Rider', written by Claudio Nizzi and published by SAF Comics.
As of the mid-2000s, Kubert is the artist for PS Magazine, a U.S. military magazine, with comic-book elements, that stresses the importance of preventive maintenance of vehicles, arms, and other ordnance. (The name derives from its being a "postscript" to other, related publications.)
In 2008, Kubert returned to his Tor character with a six-issue limited series published by DC Comics entitled ' Tor: A Prehistoric Odyssey'.
Kubert died of multiple myeloma on August 12, 2012, a month short of his 86th birthday.