Jewish World Review
Jan. 18, 2006
/ 18 Teves 5766
Comics legend still Rock-ing
By Bill Radford
DC's iconic war hero returns today with the first of a six-issue Jewish-themed miniseries
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (KRT)
Sgt. Rock and the men of Easy Company are back, courtesy of comics legend Joe Kubert.
Sgt. Frank Rock, DC Comics' premier war hero, has been around since the late 1950s. It has been nearly two decades since DC published regular World War II adventures featuring Rock, but the character continues to pop up every now and then.
A couple of years ago, Kubert illustrated "Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place," a graphic novel written by Brian Azzarello.
Now Kubert is handling both writing and art duties with "Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy," a six-issue miniseries from DC.
The first issue is scheduled to arrive in comic-book shops today.
"I felt I had been out of the mainstream of comics for so long, I'd like to let people know I'm still alive and that I can still do stuff on a regular basis," the 79-year-old Kubert said by phone from his art school in New Jersey.
The series is familiar territory for Kubert, who along with editor-writer Robert Kanigher is credited with the creation or development of key DC war heroes such as Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace.
"It was just a real comfortable thing for me," he said of the new project.
"The Prophecy" finds Sgt. Rock and his men in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, assigned with retrieving a mysterious valuable object.
The "object" turns out to be a young rabbi.
The tale is inspired by the true story of a rabbi who was spirited to safety just before World War II so he could tell the world what was happening to the Jewish people under Adolf Hitler.
The rabbi in Kubert's tale is also believed to have an important message to share, but Easy Company finds he's not the easiest person to get along with.
"The character is a snotty kid," Kubert said.
Kubert's sons Adam and Andy, who have followed in their father's artistic footsteps and who signed exclusive agreements last year with DC, created alternate covers for the first issue of "Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy."
"It's one of the biggest thrills of my life," Kubert said of their involvement.
His sons have their studios at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, which Kubert founded in 1976.
"I see them virtually every day," he said.
Kubert's comicbook career has spanned nearly 70 years; he broke into the business at age 11 as an apprentice at a comics-production house.
He has been called a living legend "a term that I think is really, really vastly overused," he said.
He declined to describe his art style, saying that is for others to judge.
But he did say he strives for a smooth transition from panel to panel and a clarity in storytelling.
That's a goal he believes many of today's comic-book artists neglect as they produce work that often is beautiful but perhaps too complex.
"I don't think there's enough concentration on what started the whole comic-book business," he said.
"And that is telling a story. Telling a story with pictures, telling a story so that it's clear, that's discernible, that's dramatic, so a reader can follow it.
"And I think too many times that doesn't happen."
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© 2006, The Gazette . Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.