Brush With Joe Kubert!

Found! Perhaps the only existing Craig Boldman/Joe Kubert art collaboration.

I was one of the early students at The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey, and as such, would occasionally be treated/subjected to the terrifying advent of Joe Kubert, comic book legend, looking over my shoulder while I was still trying to find my way around a piece of drawing paper and which end of a pencil was up. And once in a while, he’d excuse me from my chair and say, “Let me show you…”

Here we see a tracing paper overlay of Joe’s inks over what was undoubtedly my undercooked attempt at drawing a female head. Not surprisingly, he made it look like something: not entirely unlike my drawing, but with Kubert mojo added.

He may have used a brush pen for this. Those were a bit of an oddity at the time; rare and exotic Japanese imports. But Joe was a fan of pens and liked to try new things.

I’ve been gazing at this sample and asking myself, how can these brush strokes be so loose and so casual, and yet be so correct? This ink job took Joe all of thirty seconds to do, and in any practical structural sense it didn’t deviate from my pencil drawing, helmet hair and all. And yet, it was universes away. Apparently I didn’t bother to hold on to my underlying drawing. There might have been some value in comparing my original version and Joe’s, but ultimately only one part of this exercise was a keeper.

The catch with Joe’s tutorials was, him doing it in front of you, right before your eyes, didn’t unlock the secret of how he did it. He was a magician who didn’t or maybe couldn’t reveal his tricks. When he walked away from my drawing table I was as dumb as I was before he walked up. But at least he left me wondering “how did he do that” with a certain ratcheted-up intensity, and that was worth a lot in itself.

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