MORE FROM SAN DIEGO: Adam Kubert on a Life in Comics

Tue, July 22nd, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

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[Ultimate X-Men #21]His father is one of the great names in the comic book industry, one of those whom generations of fans speak of only using one name. But at his panel Friday morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego, it was son Adam Kubert's time in the spotlight, and the artist talked about his career from its earliest beginnings up through some hints at what's coming next.

From the beginning, Kubert loved to draw. But while proud of his father's role in the field of comics -- driven home by his first visit to a comic convention and the way the fans swarmed his father -- he initially wanted to try something different.

"I knew how big my dad was in the business, and wanted to make my own path."

Instead, Kubert went and got a degree in medical illustration. But it didn't turn out to be the career for him.

"I just didn't like it; I didn't like talking to doctors, didn't like to talking to scientists. It was like they looked down on artists. At this point, my dad had this great school for art, and I figured 'why fight it?'"

Once he made the decision, it seemed a natural in retrospect. All through college, his own personal drawings had been the swooping, fantastic stuff more commonly associated with superhero comics, and he'd found his creative outlet in a newspaper strip and posters for various campus events.

[Ultimate X-Men #23]After graduating from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, he landed a job at Heavy Metal doing lettering, which gave him a steady gig to approach drawing work at his own pace, and giving him the time to perfect both penciling and inking.

"I think -- and my dad embedded this in my head -- if you pencil and ink your own work, you have your own voice," Kubert said. "I think by doing that for myself from the beginning, it set the tone."

Once he'd broken into the big time, he quickly found a home at Marvel Comics. It's where he's done his favorite project of all, in fact.

"There was this one Hulk book, that was this special company wide crossover called Flashback. Everyone had to work in this [1960s style] grid ... I divided it further, and made it a four panel grid that I was going to stick to. I learned so much -- I learned that it was more important what was going on inside the panels than messing around with borders and all that. I learned so much, and that was probably my favorite book I've worked on."

But without question, his highest profile work to date was as the artist of "Ultimate X-Men," working with Mark Millar, with whom he had a close working relationship.

"We e-mail all the time. He's Scottish, you know, so he talks like he has a mouth full of marbles, so we e-mail."

[Ultimate X-Men #26]The royalties for the book are good, although not as sky-high as some fans might imagine.

"I couldn't put these two through college," he said, gesturing to his two children with him at the panel, "but I could probably put some food on the table."

Nowadays, he teaches Narrative Art for 1st year students, one day a week, at the Kubert school. He's also working on his new project, an unannounced Ultimates book from Marvel.

"I can't tell you who it's going to be," he said. "I can tell you it's gonna be really different and it's going to be really good."

His kids weren't the biggest fans of his "Ultimate X-Men" work. Instead, every night he reads "Ultimate Spider-Man" with his son Jay.

[Ultimate X-Men #32]And what is it like competing in a field shared by your brother and legendary father?

"It's like a friendly competition we have going, but Andy and I both know we could never beat Dad."

Kubert is flabbergasted by his father's work ethic and the amount of work he's able to produce, even at his age while running the Joe Kubert School.

"One of the things that keeps me going, besides my mortgage, is he's a great role model. He loves what he's doing and he keeps getting better and better and better."

But despite his father's example -- and the no doubt enthusiastic response from publishers to the idea -- Kubert has no particular interest in doing war comics. He likes superheroes, and it's superheroes he intends to work on.

"You have to do what you're passionate about. ... It's important that whatever you do, whatever you draw, whatever you write, it's something you know something about and something you like."

 
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