R.I.P. Joe Kubert

Sgt. Rock and Easy Company.

The comic book world is poorer today for the loss of legendary artist Joe Kubert. You can find out the details of his life and death and contributions to the comic book industry somewhere else if you want to, but I just want to express how much the man’s art meant to me personally. If it weren’t for a huge stack of torn and yellowed issues of G.I. Combat I found almost fifteen years ago at my grandparents’ house, I doubt I would appreciate comic books as much as I do today. I’m sure the writing was excellent and complex (G.I. Combat was ahead of its time where mature storytelling was concerned), but the only thing that really matters when you’re eight is the art. It either grabs your attention and keeps it, or it doesn’t. Joe’s always did. It still does. That’s the nice thing about truly good stories: they last.

He couldn’t have known it at the time, but Joe Kubert’s illustrations from these old war comics would be remembered long after they were first published. They’ve been collected into graphic novels and reprinted in comic encyclopedias many times over. More importantly, they influenced me profoundly when I was young. In the pages of G.I. Combat, they were my introduction to the world of comic books. Seeing how much I enjoyed the comics they already had, my grandparents started buying newer ones for me and my siblings. That’s how I got hooked on Spider-Man, which is why I went to see the 2002 film version the day it came out. As soon as I left the theater, I went into a bookstore and bought my first comic with my own money. Ever since then, comics have been an integral part of my life, and Joe Kubert’s art is directly responsible for that. Like I said, Joe couldn’t have known what a profound effect his work would have on my childhood decades later. But if nothing else, it brought a lot of joy into my life. I can’t think of a better legacy for a comic book illustrator. Thanks Joe.

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The Summer of Low Self-Esteem and Lofty Goals

May 2012. Two years ago this time, I had everything planned out: graduate in 2012 with a degree in journalism, get a job writing for a newspaper or magazine, begin adult life. Sounded easy enough in my head. But before my junior year was over, I had a realization: I didn’t actually enjoy journalism. The only classes I had actually enjoyed in all my time at college had been history classes, so I decided to switch majors. After three years of taking courses for an entirely different major. Meaning that I basically was back at a sophomore level in a completely different field.

I didn’t really think about what this would mean at first. I was just excited to finally care about school. But then it hit me: all of my plans had been changed. Another year and a half at school. Another two summers living with my parents. More student loans. Graduate school, doctoral studies, and the list goes on. So when I moved back home after the school year ended, I felt a little depressed. Facebook album after Facebook album of friends graduating and getting married and other wonderful things while I screw around in Fayetteville, North Carolina hasn’t helped much. But that’s the challenge: to succeed and post self-congratulatory Facebook albums of my own. I had to make a new plan, and I sort of did. But can I follow it? Do I know how to?

I’ve always had anxieties and insecurities, but my unhealthy way of dealing with them is to pretend that they don’t exist for as long as possible. I’ve always been that way, even since childhood (yes, there is a story there, but that’s a different post). Combine that with my fear of doing anything outside of my comfort zone, and you have a recipe for a lot of terrified inaction. I obviously can’t keep doing that. So I’m taking it one step at a time. Get a summer job? Check. Student loans? Working on it, with some help from the parents. Classes? Got them all planned out for the next three semesters, God help me. Enjoy some leisure time when I can? You’d better believe it. Stay in touch with friends? Eh, kind of. I’ve got to work on that one a bit.