More than an Everyday Hero – a meeting with Joe Kubert

More than an Everyday Hero
by Slai

I am an individual without an iconic role model.  I have never idolized anyone.  I’ve had people that I’ve met along the way and have grown to admire, mostly teachers.  It’s always been interesting to me when those I know have a celebrity who they revere without any actual contact with that person.  For at least one example, I have a better idea why.
For those of you who don’t know, your host and PopTards founder, JD, in addition to being his charismatic self, is a very talented illustrator. Through his passion of comic books, he as introduced me to wonderful stories and amazing artists.  Within this learning, I became aware of Joe Kubert, an artist of multitudes of comics and originator of Joe Kubert’s School of Cartooning and Graphic Art.  I got to observe how moved JD was just to shake Joe’s hand during their brief meeting at this past NY ComicCon.
I’ll leave it to you to wiki Joe and check out his website to learn how gifted he is, but what these sites may not tell you is how kind he is.  I thought JD could use some inspiration. A few weeks ago, JD, who’s a cancer survivor, had an impending biopsy.  Despite my desire to be comforting, I found myself at a loss.  I’m also a cancer survivor, and even though I have similar worries, I just didn’t know what to say. I operated in the way I dealt with my own fears which is to focus on an aspect of life that keeps me going, in this case: art. Thankfully, this is a motivator for JD too, though he’s more visual art and I’m more performance art.
I contacted Mr. Kubert to ask for assistance and he invited JD and I without question.  I offered Mr. Kubert a meal in exchange for his time, but instead he asked us to come to the school, where at age 84, he is still teaching.  So, I told JD that I had a surprised planned for him that was a 2 hour drive away.  I believe JD was skeptical (my surprises are occasionally questionable), but he went with it.
JD lit up when we arrived at the school, thinking we were going for a tour.  He has recently considered pursuing one of the correspondence courses they offer. Then, I informed him that we have a meeting with Joe and the panic set in.  “Why?” “Just to talk.” “About what?” “Whatever you want to talk about…” “I’m not prepared.” “You don’t have to be.  Your hero heard you were having a hard time and just wants to be your hero.”
I didn’t know what to expect either upon entering the school.  One of the school’s administrators was expecting us and led us to Joe’s office where we were greeted by Joe and offered refreshments.  I had forewarned Joe of JD potentially being “flabbergasted”, but Joe’s warmth set us at ease.
Joe Kubert has become my hero.  He has a devout willingness to both share his experience, yet answer honestly “I don’t know”(when he doesn’t) instead of just making something up.  He lacks the bravado success has brought to many and instills the importance of focus and practice for an individual’s endeavors.  His workspace, which has seen a few decades, is of his own design complete with cardboard and tape inventions to hold his supplies exactly the way he wants them.  He has a presence that makes me think he is not wasteful of anything, unlike my own generation.  I think both JD and I left feeling a little more nurtured than when we had arrived.  That’s what I had hoped for JD, but wasn’t anticipating for myself.
And then, there’s the school.  After the meeting, we were wandering the formerly-a-high-school hallways looking at the student art, when the ever congenial Rich, the correspondence course teacher decided to give us an impromptu tour.  Students continue working on their projects well after class time and we had the opportunity to speak with a few and view their creations.  Finally, just before heading out, we were planted at the art store where JD became more supplied for his craft through the extremely knowledgeable staff there.  All in all, it was a pretty fantastic trip.
Joe Kubert’s ability, despite his everyday implementation, sets him apart from many.  The hero in him closes that gap through accessibility and benevolence.  We’re all more fortunate for the example he puts forth.

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1 Comment to “More than an Everyday Hero – a meeting with Joe Kubert”

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    This will go down in my history as one of the top 5 memories I’ll cherish. Joe was such an inspiration both artistically and as a person. Not having grown up with a father who was around during my formative years, on the drive home I was suddenly struck by something. “Wow…so…THAT must be what getting fatherly advice feels like!”

    I can’t really express how much this meeting meant to me and how it’s already affected my attitude towards my own art. Joe is absolutely amazing and it was unbelievable of him to set this time aside to just have an extended chat with me.

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