I’ve seen the top version posted here and there on social media (don’t know the artist).
The bottom version is my variation using my experience working on syndicated comic strips (Flash Gordon/Sally Forth). For Sally Forth I’m the penciller, letterer, inker, and colorist for the Sunday page (the dailies are colored in-house at King).
My variation puts the letterer before the inker in the assembly line of making comics. Putting lettering last can make for some badly placed type (in my humble opinion).
Here’s Joe Kubert talking about how he lays out his lettering as part of the inital layout – and how he thought laying it in as an overlay as the last step was “a little nutty.”
It’s a sentiment I agree with 100%. It just makes for a better marriage of words and pictures.
A quick side note: Lettering is the “invisible art” of a comic page when done well. If done horribly it stands apart from the page like a sore thumb.
Check out the Iwata Todd Klein Facebook page for examples of lettering done right.
And last but not least, a top notch production staff is ESSENTIAL and are the unsung heroes of this business. Any kink in the chain, and no matter how outstanding particular individuals are, you’ll end up with a crappy product.
The dailies shown above were originally published December 2-25, 1985.
I don’t know if Sunday pages were also produced.
If anyone knows please drop me a line!
– Update –
From George Hagenauer:
“I talked to Joe right before his death about this as I own (among other Kubert originals ) a Big Ben Bolt original that looked like his work. Basically over the years he would get commercial projects (The Winnie winkle comic strip, various comic related catalogs etc.) with the idea that they would involve the students and get them some needed experience and practice. These projects look like Kubert but usually are not signed by him. They are often a mix of his direction and the students art .
How much is Kubert and how much is students depended on the students skill- and sometimes it didn’t work or as Joe said they couldn’t handle “Big Ben Bolt so I ended up doing it all myself”
From Sam Kujava:
“When I was at Kubert’s School the first year, he offered me a week’s worth of Big Ben Bolt dailies to work on. Joe had already laid out the panels, and I went over them and tightened the pencils, making the art look a little more like my “style”. When I finished, on time, Joe took them back to ink. He showed them to me before he sent it off to the syndicate and it more or less totally looked like Joe did it all. No complaint, just observation.”
“You probably know by now that the NEA Christmas strips were daily only.
Joe Kubert and School did the seasonal strip from 1982 through 1985. (Weren’t you a freshman at The School in 1985?)
The Owosso (Mich) Argus-Press ran the 1982 (The Christmas Carol) and 1983 (Gifts of the Magi) strips.
Unfortunately they switched over to the Disney/King Features Christmas strips in 1984, so I hadn’t seen The School’s Hans Brinker (1984) or their 1985 The Nutcracker – until now (thanks again).
Yeah, they all look like Joe Kubert was deeply involved.
In 1981/82 the Joe Kubert School drew the Winnie Winkle strip. Some of those look like Joe took on more of a role of layout/art director and let the young’uns go at it.
These were actually signed J.K.S., for Joe Kubert School.
D.D.Degg mentions “they switched over to the Disney/King Features Christmas strips” – which coincidentally I colored in the 90s when I was on staff at King.
Many thanks for the added info – greatly appreciated!
If I find out anything more (like students who helped work on them)
I’ll be sure to keep you posted…
Maya Kern, Heather Williams, Jacklyn Hedlund and Allison O’Brien
Jesse Charles Baker and Jay Rasgorshek.
Coleman Gilbert, Greer Lawson, April Kasulis and Spencer Amundson.
Jakob “Fro” Ealy
Alexis Cooke and repeat performance by Mandie.
Professor Barb Schulz and Jacklyn Heeyun Kim.
My table at C2E2…
My daughters Tessa and Anna in line to meet Peter Davison (the 5th Doctor).
Sights and sounds: Includes sketches by George Perez and Joe Kubert.
Pics just before the show and Artist Alley.
Joe Kubert lecture. This would be one of Joe’s last conventions, as he died in August of that same year.
Artist Alley sketching tutorials by Thomas Gianni, Jeremy Dale and Gene Ha.
Last but not least – I had just bought a new car in 2010 that promptly broke down on the drive down to Chicago. Luckily I hadn’t driven that far and I was able to switch to the old reliable 1998 Dodge.
And with the Kubert School you don’t just get some random shill handing out flyers, but two highly skilled Kubert School graduates giving you practical firsthand information, Brigid Allanson (left) and Angie Fernot (right).
The two were fielding questions, selling prints and were available for portfolio reviews.
And speaking of which…
Even though there were a lot of publishers at C2E2, those companies had people on the floor to sell merchandise, not to look over an aspiring cartoonists portfolios. With Brigid and Angie you had two artists that have a working knowledge of the field that is just invaluable to the up-and-comer looking to break into the business.
I doff my Joe Kubert School hat to them in salute.
Disclaimer: Jim Keefe is a graduate of the Joe Kubert School and would be working convention service at a Hyatt Regency right now if not for the skills learned at the school – to which he is eternally grateful.
Disclaimer 2: Jim Keefe has no beef with the Hyatt Regency chain of hotels and was even awarded the Hyatt Regency’s Convention Service department’s “Employee of the Month” in 1986 before moving out east to attend the Joe Kubert School.
For the Kubert School panel, Joe Kubert alum (and current President of the Kubert School) Anthony Marques moderated, as Joe sketched and answered questions. Here’s just a few highlights featuring Joe’s comments…
The following video is Joe sketching Nite Owl from the Before Watchmen series. The image was projected sideways on a large screen – my video is rotated to one side so the drawing can be seen right-side-up. While Joe sketched Anthony was fielding questions.
What amazed me during Joe’s drawing demo was that every time Joe was asked a question instead of Anthony (and this is not seen on the video) Joe was so focused on the drawing that Anthony had to repeat the question numerous times just to get Joe’s attention – repeatedly – EVERY time.
Joe finally apologized saying that when he’s drawing, that’s where he’s focused, so he’s not listening to the conversation going on around him.
THAT’S how focused Joe was while drawing – it was remarkable and inspiring to watch…
After the drawing demo Joe stayed for a short time to meet and greet fans. I went up to say hi and the guy standing in line in front of me told Joe he was a huge fan and then asked for Joe to sign his arm so he could then get the signature tattooed.
Joe immediately protested, “Why would you do that? I can’t…” The fan persisted and Joe kept protesting until the guy’s friend explained it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, that his friend really was that big a fan.
Joe finally acquiesced.
This last little clip is of Joe signing the fan’s arm.
My time with Joe was relatively brief. It had been years since I had seen him last, but he recognized who I was after I mentioned the Flash Gordon page we had worked on. A smile lit his face and his strong handshake followed. He asked me what I had been up to and I told him about my freelance and teaching.
I then told him, “I just wanted to thank you for my career.” That warm smile again and the handshake.
And that was the last time I saw Joe Kubert.
There’s more to say, much more, but I’m going to leave it at that. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends – he’ll be sorely missed.
Joe Kubert Obits and Remembrances From Around the Web: