The end of summer is always a bittersweet time. This year there’s overt sadness as well, as we’ve lost three talented men whom I (and the world) have long admired: Joe Kubert, Harry Harrison, and Neil Armstrong.
I grew up on Kubert’s version of Tarzan and his war titles, like Sgt. Rock. The man’s linework was always assured and breathtaking, his storytelling almost always perfect. Later he created an important series of graphic novels and nonfiction volumes, including the brilliant Fax From Sarajevo about the war in Bosnia, and Yossel,his thought-provoking alternate-history biography that explored what might have happened to him if his parents had not escaped from Europe before World War II.
Many genre fans are not aware that Harry Harrison started his career as a comic book writer and editor, before he ever got into the area of science fiction and fantasy. His most popular novels include the Stainless Steel Rat series, and his classic, dark and hugely funny anti-war novel, Bill, the Galactic Hero. I had the pleasure of meeting Harry and spending some time with him while I was editor in chief of Starlog magazine. Later, as editor in chief of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, I got to work with Harry to adapt Bill into a trilogy of graphic novels, which, as I remember, was published by DC Comics.
Neil Armstrong said “One small step for [a] man; one giant leap for Mankind.” He did what I had wanted to do since I was five years old: walk on another celestial body other than Earth. I remember being inches away from our black-and-white 12-inch TV, adjusting the rabbit ears at 2 o’clock in the morning so we could see a man walking on the surface of the Moon. I cannot begin to explain how exciting that was.
Neil’s footprint on the lunar surface is the most inspiring iconic image of the entire twentieth century.
Three visionary men whose works allowed us to envision a better way of life, and how to get there; we will miss them all.