I’m not a huge comics fan boy. Superheros get tiresome after a while–they cry about their superpowers way too much. Growing up I read war comics, specifically: The Unknown Soldier, G.I. Combat, and most of all, Sgt. Rock. I had no idea who Joe Kubert was but his creation (I believe he had stopped writing the comic before I came on the scene) was a mainstay for me for several years. I still have all the copies in their less than mint condition–worthless might be a better word–including the Batman-Sgt. Rock team up. I never did get the Superman one that was advertised, but probably for the best. I can’t say it was anything more than escapist fun, but, still, there was a tiredness to the stories, soldiers grinding on through the war. He had a dark element that made the men more real that their tights wearing counter parts. The hallmark of Sgt. Rock was his monthly struggle to keep his platoon together. It didn’t always happen and they lost men, always shown as a classic burial mound, a rifle stuck muzzle down, and a helmet hanging off to one side. Rare was the comic where people died, and give this was a war comic, perhaps more should have. Yet the Rock was still a blaze of glory, his Thompson machine gun roaring, extra ammo hanging off him, his helmet always at a rebellious angle. He was a hero and heroes, despite their creator’s wishes, make war glamorous. I will say, in one of these comics I first read about friendly fire and at a young age it was disturbing to think you could get shot by one of your own. It was an eye opener, one that still sticks with me even after all these years. I believe I was reading after he had been in charge of the war comics (based on the NY Time‘s dates), but I think his influence was felt in those that I still have. According to the NY Times, during his run as head of war comics at DC between 67 and 76, “at the end of each comic, Mr. Kubert directed the typesetter to add a four-word coda. It read, ‘Make War No More.'” Those are fitting words for the end of every war comic, and if I was going to read war comics, those are really the only words the creator of a boyhood icon should have written.
You can see some of his work in an excerpt from a Fantagraphics book about his work (pdf).