THE LAST WORD: Joe Kubert’s BEST Comic Book Covers!!(Some of them)

I have an appreciation for the late, great Joe Kubert here in 2018 as an adult, that I really didn’t have for him as a kid. And much of that is down to exposure, as well as a broader scope of reading material.

As a kid, comics that interested me were what interested most kids of the latter 20th century. We were children of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Chis Claremont and John Bryne, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, David Kraft and Keith Giffen, Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. The very exciting and colorful, but delineated world of Superhero comics.

The Brave & The Bold #84 - Neal Adams

But then the late 80s happened, and creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller and William Mesner Loebs created works that seemed to challenge and expand the horizons and genres and tropes of the medium. They were following in the footsteps of late 70s pioneers such as Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, and the aforementioned creators, who all had their moments of scripting comics with an Indy sensibility before the term existed.

And now as an adult, having explored much of the growth of the mainstream comic industry from their golden age roots, to their big screen interpretations, here in 2018 I am revisiting some work that was largely before my time.

Namely the westerns and horror books and combat books, of the late 60s and early 70s.

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And this deep dive into this world (I mean I have gone deep in 2018), has solidified and cemented and revealed somethings. Most notably is 1/ The western comic books of Marvel Comics, the 12cent and 15 cent, etc comics, RAWHIDE KID, TWO-GUN KID, GUNHAWKS, MARVEL WESTERN, by mostly Larry Lieber, and Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby, and Gil Kane, and Herb Trimpe and John Severin are masterpieces. And these books are MUST OWNS. And many have not been reprinted. And while MARVEL COMICS were hands down producing some of the best Western Comics, some other notable comics in this genre are the painted cover LONE RANGER comics by Dell and Gold Key Publishing, and DC’s TOMAHAWK–

(Brief interuption to gush on Kubert’s TOMAHAWK. The last 25 issues or so of TOMAHAWK go from Neal Adams covers to the final ten which are Joe Kubert covers, from issues 131 to 140. There are not many people who can follow Neal Adams on covers, and be able to equal him.

When Neal Adams does a run of covers, those become the definitive sought after covers, especially during this period of the 60s and 70s in DC. Whether BATMAN or DETECTIVE or SUPERMAN or SUPERBOY, to this day the definitive covers for all those titles, are the ones drawn by Neal Adams, and with good reason. Neal Adams is a master artist.

So it is no small compliment to say not only does Joe Kubert’s ten issue cover run on TOMAHAWK equal the work of his good friend Neal Adams, they surpass them. As someone who just acquired those ten books this year, listen to me when I say they are INCREDIBLY undervalued, sporting both stunning covers and interiors, and no true fan of comics should be without them. If you can get them in high grade for $10 a book, that is a steal.

Get those issues at the link below. You get great comics AND you earn a few pennies to keep this blog’s lights on.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?tid=181351&pgi=101&AffID=200301P01

)

–and ALL STAR WESTERN & WEIRD WESTERN. All fantastic and I will be doing a bit on Western Comics in an upcoming post.

 

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And 2/ where the Marvel Comics  of yesterday ruled the WESTERN genre, the WAR or COMBAT genre was ruled by DC Comics. Largely because of two names the great Robert Kanigher and the great Joe Kubert. Both men master story tellers, one with words and one with images, and both men incredibly prolific and productive. My favorite TEEN TITANS story of the silver age is by Robert Kanigher, my favorite FLASH stories by Robert Kanigher. So I always meant to pursue Kanigher’s work into his combat/conflict/war books of the period, and I am finally getting a chance to do that in 2018. And what immediately sells these books is the iconic covers and visual storytelling by the late, great Joe Kubert.

Joe Kubert’s cover art on Our Fighting Forces #135

His work, especially pre the mid 70s, where his covers got to play with the typography and marrying that to the cover image… gold. Absolutely gold. To the point where covers for OUR FIGHTING FORCES and OUR ARMY AT WAR for a brief period in the late 60s, early 70s are cover art truly raised to the level of Art with a capital A. Why anyone would pay $4, $5, $6, and $7 for a brand new comic book (that can be found in the $1 bins or reprinted in a much better quality trade in a few months), when you can take that same money and get a classic issue from this period of comics… is beyond me.

It is work you are typically not going to see unless you go looking. Not many people are showing off 50 year old war comic book covers. In 2018 I have gone looking.

Let me show you some of what I’ve found. We will start with a taste of his unconventional and relatively rare Superhero work and move onto his more prolific genre work.

 

 

 

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SYFYWIRE’s Matthew Funk says it best when they say…

“G.I. Combat #88

Kubert’s contributions to the visual language of war stories can’t be overstated, and this cover proves as much. This is very Stanley Kubrick-style imagery, but the comic predates Full Metal Jacket by 26 years. Kubert was creating iconic, haunting, and cinematic images of war that would influence generations of storytellers.”

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When you think of great, iconic cover artists, the names Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Nick Cardy, and more recently Alex Ross come to mind. And all deservedly so. But one that arguably has gotten overlooked by the masses is Joe Kubert, and this is largely because he worked mostly in genres that did not get the attention back in the day. But now as an adult and getting into genres of Western and War and Horror, I am getting exposed to the work of great artists such as Joe Kubert, I am seeing much of it for the first time, and it is…. ASTONISHING. What really amazes me about Kubert is when he gets to play with Typography in his covers, and make that part of his story-telling, those are absolute game changers. Such as the above, and many of his Combat books.

 

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SGT ROCK

G.I. Combat (Volume) - Comic Vine

Our Army At War 254 - Sgt. Rock - Joe Kubert

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Ready to own some of these great comic books?

Then use the link below and start ordering:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=our+army+at+war&pubid=&PubRng&AffID=200301P01

 

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Podcast of the Day : The Best Doug Moench Interview!

THE BEST DOUG MOENCH INTERVIEW!

I just discovered this COMIC SHENANIGANS interview with Doug Moench.

From April 2017 this interview is FANTASTIC! Doug Moench (pronounced mensh) is a legendary comic writer, but arguably not as legendary as he should be. While names like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont and John Byrne are known to even peripheral fans of comics, the name Doug Moench  arguably doesn’t get the praise he deserves.

His work in the 70s and 80s brought a sophistication to comics, that tends to get attributed to the year 1986 and the one two punch of Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT and Alan Moore’ s WATCHMEN, but those iconic books didn’t get born in a vacuum.  It came in stages through creators, by fits and starts, progressing the medium.  Creators such as…

The phenomenal work of Stan Lee in the 1960s creating stories that talked to the audience, rather than at the audience. His stories, his dialog, was snappy and fun patter which sung for the first time to a college audience, rather than strictly to the kid audience, and really separated Marvel from everyone else.

Stan Lee gets credit, but I think too many people in a rush to praise the artists, and address any slights,  such as Jack Kirby and Ditko and Romita etc (men deserving of praise) , they stumble into a very trumpian conceit of feeling that in order to praise the artists they have to tear down the writer, namely Stan Lee.  And quite frankly that is just insipid. You can praise them both, and should praise them both.

Beacause all that beautiful FF art, if married to insipid dialog/writing you have underwhelming stories. Or if you have stories that don’t hype/excite the audience, all the art is not going to save it. The silver age series SHIELD (pre and even some of the early Steranko) is an example of this.  Interesting Kirby art, but pretty boring , uninteresting writing.

Stan was writing the whole Marvel Universe at the time, and I don’t think war and spy books was his strength, so this series is pretty poorly written/dialoged, and all Kirby’s art couldn’t save it. The same thing could have happened to FF, but for Stan’s love for those characters and stories. The FF stories are great because Stan is at the top of his game as ideaman/writer, and Kirby is at the top of his game as storyteller/artist.  It is the collaboration of words and images that make those early FF stories work.

Stan Lee as ideaman, as writer, as editor, as cheerleader, as salesman, as enthusiastic fount of energy is unequaled. He put Marvel Comics  on his back and he carried it with a smile, onto the road that it is on now. With his passion to identify his creators and sell them to his audience, something no other publisher was doing, he gave birth to a generation of future writers and artists. As well as his more experimental work, allowing the competition (DC) to likewise let their writers off the leash. You get some of the best late 60s /early 70s Kanigher, Giordano, ONeil, Haney stories as a reaction to Marvel’s inroads to the college audience.

So you get a bunch of writers in the wake of Stan, growing the medium.

Among them being Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Steranko, David Kraft, Keith Giffen, ONeil, Claremont, and arguably one of the most innovative of them… Doug Moench.

Doug Moench is known to a younger generation mostly for his later Batman work, however thanks to a new bunch of collections coming out from Marvel; the work that put him on the map (to even other comicbook creators) THE MASTER OF KUNG FU and MOON KNIGHT is finally readily available. Its availability allowing old and new to revisit these groundbreaking works, and put in clearer perspective this pivotal creator.

His MOKF, while of its age was more sophisticated than anything else coming out in comics, and looking back on it, now nearly 4 decades later, those stories are still incredibly entertaining. Particularly the issues with his long time collaborator, Paul Gulacy, are a phenomenal marriage of words and pictures.

Arguably 4 decades later, their ‘CAT’ story from issue #38 of the MASTER OF KUNG FU SERIES (and now available in Volume II of the MASTER OF KUNG FU Omnibus) is one of the greatest single issues of a comic. And fellow collaborators Mike Zeck, and the late great Gene Day also brought wonderful life to the words of Moench.

Likewise his MOON KNIGHT series with Bill Sienkiewicz was month in and month out one of the most sophisticated and daring and heartfelt books being put out; and opened the door for the success of the comic shop, and the rise of the Independent publishers. It gave a generation of writers a broader perspective on what can be done in a comic book. Many talented writers and artists have tried their hands at the character of Moon Knight since Moench’s departure, a few have been good, Warren Ellis and Jeff Lemire come to mind, most have been awful, and none have been the equal of Moench and Sienkiewicz’s run. That is something, when 4 decades of writers, cannot equal or surpass what you did.

Add to that three of the most haunting Batman stories, a trilogy of one shot issues done with Pat Broderick, and phenomenal creator owned work SIX FROM SIRIUS with Paul Gulacy, as well as his work in the Black and White mags,  and you have some of what makes Doug Moench one of the best writers in the history of comics.

Now with my 2 cents out of the way, go listen to the interview from the man himself:

https://comicshenanigans.podbean.com/category/doug-moench/

COVER GALLERY : Favorite Flash Comic book Covers! 1959-1970

COVER GALLERY : Favorite Flash Comic book Covers! 1959-1970

If you have watched television recently, you probably know the very popular FLASH TV series. After some misgivings regarding the show, I’ve grown quite fond of it.

What you might not know, is the comic book series.

The Flash is a comic book series that has had several incarnations; and without doubt, one of the most popular ones is the silver age series, that introduced the scarlet clad Flash, Barry Allen.

The silver age series ran from the late 1950s to about 1970. Here is a selection of my favorite FLASH comic book covers from that period. The covers (as were the interiors) overwhelmingly were the vision of one man, Carmine Infantino, who was the art director of all of DC’s comics, and (at the formative years of an oft maligned medium) defined the look of what an exciting comic book cover was.

His artwork, while perhaps crude and simplistic compared to the more refined and rendered artists of today, has a sense of design, the placement of text and graphics, and the art of getting you excited, that is still head and shoulders above most artists today.

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Carmine, at the end of 1967 with his workload as art director/executive editor increasing, after almost 8 consistent years as the sole artist of the Flash, passed on the reigns of cover and interior artist to talented newcomer Ross Andru.

Ross Andru after some initial growing pains proved himself a talented artist, growing into a strong cover artist in his own right. His issues get progressively better.

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But by far the best covers of this period are the haunting, almost baroque covers by the great Joe Kubert. Paired with stories by John Broome and the always great Robert Kanigher, these issues are a must own for any fan of great art and story. Some exemplary Neal Adams and Gil Kane covers round out the list of best covers as 1970 closes out the silver age of comics.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the best of Silver Age FLASH Comic Book Covers! Drop us a line and let us know some of your favorites!

And to own these issues yourself? Well the bad news is most of these have not been collected yet. The good news is brand new collections are on the way. The first one, THE FLASH OMNIBUS was released last year, is hardcover, full color, and contains over 800 pages!! At $60 it is not cheap, but considering you get reprinted tens of thousands of dollars of comics, it’s a deal.

Get it The Flash Omnibus Vol. 1
here!