A few months ago, after far too long of a delay, I called up Joe Kubert to thank him for all I learned when I went to his school (from 1983-85). We had a nice chat, but I didn't want to take up his whole day recounting my life story. So I told him I'd follow up with the details, and here is the letter I sent him:
Hi Joe -- as a follow-up to our phone conversation from a while back, I want to share with you how much my education at the Joe Kubert School has meant to my life and career.
I attended the Joe Kubert School from 1983 to 1985. I got an amazing foundation of all the most important drawing and storytelling skills during those years. Up until I went to your school, my artwork had developed in fits and starts…but once I came under the full-time guidance of all the experienced teachers I learned more than I ever thought possible.
The old Kubert School circa 1984
In your Narrative Art class, I learned about telling a story visually. One of the core ideas that has never left me is that the reader is always right. If they get confused it's my fault. The artist has to make the storytelling clear and compelling.
I learned solid basic drawing techniques from Jose Delbo -- his class taught me how to draw the real basics that are often skipped by young artists. I learned figure drawing, perspective, how to use pens and brushes, lettering, coloring and painting. I have used all those skills throughout my career; not only in animation storyboards (for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros and Disney), but as a comic book artist/writer/inker/letterer and full-color cover artist for Nickelodeon Magazine.
Most important was that you taught me about the realities of working for publication and on deadline. You stressed over and over that an assignment is useless if it's not done on time. The professional world is all about production and deadlines, and if you can't hack that, you're dead. Thank you for putting so much emphasis on the importance of good professional work habits
Best of all, I have been teaching others, continuing the lessons and traditions that I learned from you and your crew of seasoned professional teachers. In my role as Storyboard Supervisor and Director at Disney TV Animation, I help teach other artists the solid basics of visual storytelling. I wrote and illustrated a book called, "Cartooning: Character Design" for Walter Foster Books, and I am currently teaching an online class in storyboarding.
By the way, I'll never forget that our first assignment in your class was drawing a comic book story with no words, and only with silhouettes. That assignment broke my brain open to the challenges and opportunities that can be achieved by telling a story with drawings. In my online class, I just taught a lesson on posing, acting and the importance of silhouettes!
Basically -- everything I know about drawing and storytelling had its foundation at the Joe Kubert School. I am eternally grateful that you started this wonderful school, and that you have been so generous with your knowledge.