Tuesday, September 18, 2012

35 – A Birthday Remembrance of Joe Kubert

Today would have been Joe Kubert’s 86th birthday. He missed it by about five weeks, having left this world and us on August 12. This humble Birthday Remembrance is intended as a respectful appreciation of his masterful creativity as an artist and the absolute effervescence of his presence.

The image displayed below, the Front Cover of PS Magazine Issue 719 (October 2012), is the last PS cover that is attributable to Joe, even though it does not bear his iconic sig. He penciled the entire piece and inked the principal foreground character in what turned out to be his last session at the drawing board before he went into the hospital.

This final Joe Kubert cover for the U.S. Army’s famous graphic communications pacesetter publication is the second in a two-step introduction process for a new female character named Cloe. (No! It’s not supposed to have an “h” in it.) The name is an acronym representing Common Logistics Operating Environment. The lady herself says it stands for Cool Logistician and Operator Extraordinaire!

Joe’s death occurred just a little more than halfway through his twelfth year (beginning in February of 2012) as the PS contractor for creative art, design, and pre-press services. His organization continues to meet all production schedules.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Joe over a three-day span in June of 2011 in Huntsville, Alabama, where we participated in the official celebration at Redstone Arsenal of the sixtieth anniversary of PS Magazine. The formalities took place in a roadhouse-style steak-joint where the floor was covered with discarded peanut-shells.

We had made reservations at the same hostelry and were supposed to have met there, but tremendous thunderstorms 

intervened and delayed the arrival of his flight. My driver, bodyguard, and general factotum (who also was my youngest son, Clay) and I seized the opportunity to leave word for Joe at the check-in desk and hustle on foot during a lull in the downpour to the most readily available establishment.

A similar subsequent interlude in the storm heralded the arrival of Joe and his Segundo, Pete Carlsson, threading their way around tables and shuffling through the peanut-shells.
It was a confabulation of kindred spirits.

To paraphrase the diplomatic dispatches, the talks were far ranging and productive.

I was surprised to learn that Joe and I both belonged to the Crop of 1926, but even more so when he disclosed that he was ten weeks older than I—his vibrant vitality had me thinking that he was ten years younger, what with me and my cane and my keeper.

The meter did not rise to “raucous” or “ribald,” but it hovered around “rousing.” Joe was at his liveliest when he was discussing his adventures as an infantry “ground-pounder” during the Korean War.

And, it set the tone for our interface during the entire event. Especially enjoyable—and it surely must have been mutually so because we both kept coming back to it—were conversational meanderings down the Memory Lane of changing graphic 

production technology, from acetate overlays to “bogus” four-color separations to the simple logistical challenges of getting a product from an artist in Podunk to a printer in Oshkosh.
In my eyes, Joe was a “people” person. He liked them, and they knew that he liked them.

Whether he was signing posters…

…or chatting with General Dennis Via (center) and Colonel William (Pat) Sullivan…

…or hamming it up with one of his drawings of Master Sergeant Half-Mast…

…or presenting a serious speech…

…it was always the “real” Joe Kubert and with a twinkle in his eye.

If you would like to see a video clip of the speech Joe was making in the picture above, just click here.

The icing on the cake was our continued collaboration in presenting this blog. I shall endeavor to continue it in the spirit in which it was created.


¶ Key military leaders’ presentations complete Video Collection
¶ Best of PS by Perspective Instructional Communications
¶ A Covey of Connies—World War II to Today

—The photos in this post were taken during the Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration of PS Magazine, June 27, 2011, at Redstone Arsenal, by Pete Carlsson and Clay Fitzgerald.

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