A Ruby In The Dirt
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its twenty-seventh choice, Jew Gangster by Joe Kubert, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Writer/ artist: Joe Kubert
Lettering/ Production: Pete Carlsson
Joe Kubert was a phenomena rarely seen in US comics. He was a writer, an editor, an artist and he even set up the Kubert School, which was created to train people to work in the comics industry.
He spent decades drawing predominantly for DC on books like All-Star Comics, Hawkman, Batman and The Flash. He became best known for his work on DC’s war books with writer Robert Kanigher on characters like Enemy Ace and Sgt Rock. Jew Gangster belongs to that later part of his career when he stretched his artistic talents to write and draw work that ha a more naturalistic bent. Jew Gangster is the story of Ruby Kaplan, a young Jewish man who falls in with gangster Monk Shapiro when he searches for an easier life than his father and mother in East New York during the Great Depression.
Here Kubert strays into the milieu of his contemporary the great Will Eisner and he brings the immigrant-filled less glamorous part of New York of the 1930s to life with style and power. Each chapter is broken up by a simple black and white wash illustration and it is the lack of colour here that lends Jew Gangster its extra impact.
The story of Kaplan is a familiar one but Kubert invests it with heart and soul and his boss, gangster Shapiro, is a charismatic hulk of a man. Visually Kubert’s lines here are a little lighter than on his mainstream superhero work and they move the story along with pace and action.
There is a reason why Joe Kubert was seen as one of the most influential figures in US comics history and despite the fact that this was created towards the end of his career and his life, it still displays the abilities and craft that made him who he was. For people who have only read his superhero or war work, Jew Gangster is a refreshing and impressive 140 page graphic novel that brings the New York of the depression to life with real skill.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far