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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30 Comments

  1. Carl says:

    Because of Sgt. Rock, I joined the U.S. Army, stayed on jump status for over 13 years, fought in Vietnam twice and volunteered for a 3rd tour but the war ended. I loved the Army.

    Joe, I hope you enjoy that big PX in the sky, you will be missed.

  2. Shotbag says:

    WAY TO GO CARL! AIRBORNE!!!! i’m sgt rock

  3. PonzerBoy says:

    I read quite a few comic books about Sgt Rock and Easy Co. as a kid — Ice Cream Soldier, Chief — you name it — could not wait for the next edition. Started out a a nickel, then 10 cents and then 12 cents .… However, between shoveling snow and cutting grass, I alwats managed to get the “next edition” on time.
    I spent 24 years in the military and alway looked back to my comic reading days with fond memories — Joe sounded like a swell guy who saw how to help people rather than just “make a buck”. Thank you for yourcaring attitude! RIP

  4. ColdWarVet says:

    Loved Sgt. Rock. Also The Haunted Tank about an M-5 Stuart Tank Crew in Africa and Europe who was haunted by the spirit of J.E.B. Stuart.

  5. AirborneMike says:

    My favorite image (drawing) was of Sgt. Rock parachuting into battle, only to find German Me-109’s coming at him for a strafing run while he was descending to the DZ. Sgt. Rock would pull out his trusty Thompson and let loose with a few well-placed shots to the engine block of the German fighter and watch it crash and burn down below.

    I know this kind of thing never happened in real combat jumps but it was great fun to imagine it and it made a lot of kids like me want to be Paratroopers.

    Take two salt tablets and drive on Joe Kuber.

  6. Steve says:

    RIP Joe! I loved all of the books you drew!
    I was standing watch, down in the boiler room of our carrier, thinking of names for our kids. Having gotten married Dec, 1969, my Wife and I had been writting, thinking of having kids. Because of Sgt. Rock, I picked Rock/Rocky for our Son. Never sorry I picked that name!

  7. Dopey says:

    Great comix!

    ‘budda-budda-budda’ — 21 gun salute

  8. robertabbott says:

    While I also read the Sgt Rock comics, no one has mentioned it yet so I’ll go on and do it. Joe Kubert also illustrated the Tales of the Green Beret comic strip in 1966 when it first came out. Robin Moore did the story lines since it was based on his book.

  9. SFC Whitley says:

    Oh yeah, my most memorable comic as a kid, reading both my Dad’s collection from when he was a kid and many I bought as well in the late’70’s.

    RIP Joe Kubert

  10. D. Wright says:

    I studied advertising design and production in college & took an extra corse in cartooning. When I went into the Army, I picked up Illustrator as my secondary MOS & did some cartoons in the command paper on my 1st tour in Germany. Joe was an influence to many. May his ink pot never go dry.

    • sinanju says:

      DWright; was it you who gave us “Lt. Kadish” in the Stars & Stripes back in 1980?

      I was a State Dept. brat in Bonn at the time (my Navy years would come later) but I found it hilarious (“Regurger ’80″!) and I always wanted to track it down with little luck.

      I knew even as a little boy that war comix had little relation to reality but that didn’t stop me from grabbing the latest off the 7/11 rack every weekend and setting up in the library with a pocketful of bubblegum…

  11. Mike Sinclair says:

    I was the cartoonist who drew “LT Kadish” in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I still have all of the original strips. Never thought anyone would remember them!

    • Brian Roby says:

      Do you publish and sell them anywhere? There’s a lot of people with whom I would love to share them. They are such a great way to tell the story of what we went through in those years.

  12. Denise Wetzel says:

    Mike, my husband has been talking about these Lt Kadish comics for years. We were both in the military (him ’77–99, me ’90–98). Where can we see these comics now?

  13. Mike Sinclair says:

    Send me your address and I’ll mail you copies of some of my favorites…my email address is *************@*****.***.

  14. Mike Sinclair says:

    I see that this site “kicks off” emails…look for me on Facebook.…and send me an address that way.

  15. Denise Wetzel says:

    Can’t find you on Facebook…too many Mike Sinclairs. My email address is denisewetzel at verizon dot net.

  16. Bill Erwin says:

    I had a book of comics published by Stars & Stripes back in the mid-80s but lost it during some move. Would love to see the oldies and goodies again. Will try to find you on facebook.

  17. David Mullen says:

    Mike I saw where you drew LT Kadish, I was in Germany in the late 70’s early 80’s and loved your comics. I remember the one with the LT asking a guy if he was a helicopter pilot. A rotor popped out of his helmet and he flew away. Is there a chance of getting a copy of that strip? Thanks

  18. John Morgan says:

    Man … Germany was my first assignment as a new 2LT. I was there from 81–84. I loved the LT Kadish strips. I’ve often wondered about who the artist was and if he/she had become a cartoonist in the civilian world. Mike — thanks for those great laughs!

  19. Leroy Hurt says:

    Bring back Kadish! What a great comic.

  20. Michael Gallegos says:

    Is there any way that Lt Kadish strips can be sent by email or to facebook page? Loved that dude!

  21. Sue says:

    Hey Mike, LOVED YOUR Strips…have a couple laminated. My favorite was the one about long staff

    meetings. What do yo do now?

  22. Jeff says:

    An amazing man to the world of comics. He also has a school to help others learn the art of comics, and get into the industry.

  23. Jeff says:

    Also the AAFES IN okinawa quit selling Marvel comics. Can anyone confirm if this is the same everywhere?

  24. Terry Boczar says:

    I was cleaning a desk today in my sewing room and came across a large envelope of Lt Kadish comics that I had collected when I was stationed in Germany. I can’t wait to re-read them!

  25. Bill Erwin says:

    Do did anyone ever get Mike Sinclair’s facebook info?

  26. Me Too! Me Too! says:

    Mike, Mike, how could you think folks wouldn’t remember LT Kadish?

    LT Kadish was THE BEST! Seriously, I so looked forward to the strip. I didn’t think to cut them out and collect them… I figured surely they’d come out in published book form any time in the Stars & Stripes bookstores. Still waiting for contact information from somewhere.