Legendary comics artist, Sgt. Rock co-creator Joe Kubert dies at 85

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Dec 17, 2012, 3:27 PM EST

Joe Kubert, legendary comic book artist, co-creator of Sgt. Rock and creator of Tor, founder of the Kubert School for comics artists, father to fellow comics greats Andy and Adam Kubert and force in his industry for seven decades, died Sunday. He was 85.

Born in Poland in 1926, Kubert and his family emigrated to New York City when he was only 2 months old. By age 11 he'd already scored his first job in comics, and by 1942 he'd landed professional work as a penciller.

In 1943, Kubert began a long relationship with DC Comics, and in 1945 he began his long and iconic association with Hawkman, a character he would eventually help to define. In the 1950s, Kubert proved his versatility by branching into what would become iconic caveman and war comics. He created the caveman character Tor for St. John Publications in 1953, and co-created Sgt. Rock for DC in 1959. Both characters continue to appear in various incarnations decades later.

In the late 1960s, Kubert returned to DC to become the company's director of publications, a position he held until 1976 while continuing to draw comics, including Tarzan. In 1976, Kubert and his wife Muriel founded the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, later known simply as the Kubert School. Located in Dover, N.J., the school continues to operate, and has produced a number of successful comic book artists, among them Amanda Conner, Stephen Bissette, Rags Morales, Rick Veitch and Alex Maleev. The school's alumni list also includes Kubert's sons Andy and Adam, who have both gone on to become successful comics artists working at both DC and Marvel Comics. Andy and Adam Kubert are now instructors at the Kubert School.

Kubert continued to produce new works throughout the '80s, '90s and '00s, including the acclaimed graphic novels Fax From Sarajevo and Yossel: April 19, 1943, as well as returns to his Tor and Sgt. Rock characters. Kubert's work is on the racks at your local comics shop right now in the pages of Before Watchmen: Nite Owl, a collaboration with his son Andy. His final published work could be the 48-page Joe Kubert Presents one-shot issue that DC Comics plans to release in October, though his earlier work continues to be reprinted.

News of Kubert's death quickly spread Sunday after Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons tweeted the news, and fellow comics creators began immediately paying tribute. Here are a few of the earliest responses.

(Via Dave Gibbons)