It’s undeniable that Joe Kubert left his mark on the comics world in more ways than one. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a portion of the industry that he had a direct impact on — including opening the Kubert School of Art, setting the aesthetic president for many superheroes through his incomparably fantastic pencils and inks, and serving as director of publications for DC Comics from 1967 to 1976, all while being a fantastic father and grandfather in the process. But with today marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, Kubert’s message of “Make War No More” seems more relevant than ever as we’re continually faced with the idea that violence is something to be glorified.
For those of you unfamiliar with DC’s iconic war comics, DC Comics began printing number of anthologies in the 1950’s based on the war stories of its creators during World War I and World War II. Sitting pretty between what would later be considered the superhero-dominated “Golden” and “Silver” Ages of comics, these titles were a way for the publisher to try to identify the new Next Big Genre for comics to take over while allowing creators to express their own personal experiences with life during wartimes. (Around the same period, other publishers were making similar experiments with romance and horror comics.)
The popularity of series such as Our Fighting Forces and Men of War — some of which lasted until the mid-1980s — did, however, allow for many creators and editors involved to promote the idea that wars are something to be lauded, praised, and even anticipated with the hopes of returning with stories of heroic behavior to share and publish.
Kubert, a Polish-American immigrant, however, took a very different approach to depicting war once he took over editing a number of the publisher’s war comics in the late 1960s, including Our Army at War (Later retitled Sgt Rock), DC Star Spangled War Stories, and the short-lived Blitzkrieg. Under his editorial eye, the end of each story where characters were bloodied from battle and fatigued of strategy saw the inclusion of a round stamp with a four word slogan to truly bring home the idea that this was not something to be celebrated: “Make War No More”.
From 1968 to 1973, the fixture could be found at the bottom of the majority of DC’s war stories after first appearing in Sgt. Rock story. Despite his involvement in the creation of characters including Sgt. Rock, Easy Company and the Losers — not to mention his fantastic artwork adorning the covers of so many of DC’s war books, Kubert’s stamp was, perhaps, his primary contribution to an effort to encourage the young, impressionable, and admiring readers to see the stories of war not as something to aspire to, but something to fear and fight against.