kubert course review

Have you thought about sampling a Joe Kubert correspondence course? Many items are marked “Joe Kubert’s World of Cartooning”, but the school itself is simply called “The Kubert School”. Regardless of the proper name, those who would like professional advice often question: is the price tag for a Joe Kubert correspondence course worth it?
kubert comic advertisement
An early advertisement for the course says that the courses took three years to make and were made with the help of other comic book experts like Tom Mandrake and Mike Sellers. It also presents five courses (later six) that also included a video and materials. This advertisement was from the late 90s. Curious about the courses, I decided to try a few.

Turnaround Time: Pleased

I have done other correspondence courses before, and the time it takes to have my assignment returned to me can be lengthy. However, in the case of this Joe Kubert correspondence course, I received it back in less than a month. I was pretty surprised.

Feedback on Illustration Skills: Pleased

My entire assignment was quickly redrawn to show my strengths and weaknesses. Some comments were written in the margin as well. The drawings, however, are sketchy and are not specific.

Feedback for Topic Studied: Disappointed

When choosing which course to take, you have a selection. You may choose Superheroes, Horror, etc. In my case, no feedback at all was given to the topic at hand. For the first assignment I was instructed to create a character based on the book’s instructions. Feedback was given on my drawing ability, but not on the character itself.

The same goes for the way the story was meant to be told. The instructions were specific about certain things like lighting, which no feedback was given on. It is as if the person who critiqued the assignment was unaware of the assignment instructions. In fact, a comment written on my assignment suggested against what I was instructed to do.

So Who Critiques the Assignments, Anyway?

This is a fair question. You want to sure of a person’s reputation or judgment. As mentioned, correspondence courses to me are nothing new. Usually, the person’s name is no secret, and simply asking is all that is needed if you happen to not know. If I remember correctly, somewhere I read that a faculty member from the Kubert School will do the critiquing, however there is no mention of who specifically. It can’t be Joe Kubert himself, because he’s dead.

To find the answer to this question, I put a post-it note on the assignment and asked politely: who is critiquing this? I received no answer. I have no idea what this silence means, or how I should feel about it. Maybe there is a good reason, maybe there is not. Just know that you will have to blindly trust the opinion of someone you know nothing about.

Kubert School Critique Examples

The problem with the critiques, I’ve noticed, is that they are done by a couple different people. If you are lucky, your art will get critiqued by someone who will give you a lot of feedback, and will take his time to correct your drawings properly. If you are unlucky, your art will get critiqued by someone who will sketch out alternate drawings quickly, and will leave little feedback. Look at these two examples to see the contrast:
kubert school critique
kubert school critique
There is nothing terribly wrong with these two critiques, but they were clearly done by different people with different levels of complexity. One person offers a lot of help; the other corrects your work like he is trying to beat a deadline, not offering much.
kubert school critique

So Is It Worth the Money?

It is hard to say. The DVD included in the materials is narrated sentimentally by a man who is no longer with us, which bears the question: do the staff that follow in Joe Kubert’s footsteps agree wholeheartedly with the words spoken? The book is authored by Joe Kubert as well. So you are being taught by one person whom you will never have any connection with. Even though he may not have corrected your assignments if he were alive, the connection would have been the school that he built, maintained, and supported.

There are five assignments, regardless of topic, and the critiques are often simple.There is the feel of a typical school homework assignment being corrected, which is fine. However, typically in a school environment there is a discussion about your mistakes as well. Now obviously, we are talking about a correspondence course and not a school. But the gap exists nonetheless. For another correspondence course I had taken, the instructor would type out a letter explaining what I had done right or wrong. In this case, one may have to rely on sparse comments along with sketches to decipher their mistakes.

My Opinion for the Future

Kubert Courses
In the advertisement, as well as in the back of the assignment books, it states that future courses will be available soon. Obviously this never happened since after 20 years there were only six total instead of the planned 25. In my opinion, Andy or Adam Kubert should continue their father’s legacy by creating at least one more course of their own. By doing this, they will be able to offer new advice and illustrations to differentiate from what their father offered. In addition, the included DVDs (that were apparently converted from VHS tapes) are not the best quality, and some fresh videos would be welcomed.

Have you taken one of the Joe Kubert correspondence courses? Agree? Disagree? Comment below.

10 thoughts on “Joe Kubert Correspondence Course Review”
  1. TO some maybe but I thought the book was thin but comically huge, the DVD from VHS didn’t offer any instruction at all and I nearly fell asleep watching Kubert do his you-can-be-a-cartoonist-too bit saying nothing to music and felt it was painfully boring and horribly made. All of the supplies are not top quality. Bull. The book is laughable, the DVD even more and I think I was taken from a shyster I’ll never be able to strangle for my money back because he’s dead. It is not worth it for me because I should have known better than to trust anyone from Jersey offering quality. If they want to continue taking 300 dollars from people they might want to update the materials some time before 2014 since the quality is in the 1940’s at present.

  2. I totally disagree, these courses are excellent, especially since there is no one else that I know of who even offers a direct mail comic book cartooning course.

    I’ve taken two of the Kubert courses, Penciling and supeheroes. From the beginning I took the attitude that I was in school, I made a commitment that I would work on them every single day, and I saw steady improvement in my cartooning. Which is the most important thing!

    You get out of them what you put into them!

    1. I have taken more than one myself, and also enjoy the idea of getting critiques through snail mail that I can keep, and can get the opinion of others. The courses are a little pricey, but I have a lot of fun with them.

      “You get out of them what you put into them” I think is the problem. Whether someone is five or 50 years old, their first attempt at a drawing assignment might be laughably simple, because they do not understand. Yet sometimes, explanations from the instructors to make clear about what they are doing wrong is neglected.

      In one of my assignments, I tried to use that ink pen that you dip into a well. I’ve always had a hard time with this, and needed some serious help. The assignment had its focus on inking. When I received the assignment back, the instructor simply wrote a comment about how sloppy it looked and quickly sketched partial panels. He said nothing about the inking, despite being the central point of the assignment.

      So why did he do that? He saw that I provided crappy work, so he provided a crappy response. If this were an actual brick and mortar school course, I could simply explain to the teacher my dilemma. But instead I am left frustrated and slightly pissed off. I hope this adds some clarity with my opinion.

  3. So I took 2 classes. These classes are mainly to get one’s feet wet. The courses will show you whether you enjoy being a cartoonist. That’s it. A lot of people think they could do it but don’t really know. These courses will tell you if you enjoy it or not. I’ve been drawing for a while and had a BFA in drawing so I didn’t get learn any real advice. I enjoyed having to do a projects in the book. The scripts are pretty basic and lame ( think 1950’s comics)and thus can be very challenging. I enjoyed the two courses I took however.
    You’re not going to impress the instructors. They don’t really give a shit and have seen it all. They look at your drawings and correct your anatomy. They don’t care about the story. I deviated from story and added things and they didn’t care or comment on it.

    1. For example, one project in the penciling project, I deviated from the script which called for a taradacile in jungle scene. I changed the scene to a future apocalyptic city scape which looked, imo entire then a mountains that was suggested by the kubert book. The instructor commented, I liked what you did. But then drew in the mountainess background. I looked online and saw another student did the same draw over. That means to me that they have a script. Also, I’ve noticed the same EXACT comments are told on basically everyone’s pages. You will get very generic criticism with this but if you are self motivated, and work hard, you can learn a lot.

  4. Sorry, you can’t seem to edit on this site, so I’ll try to clarify. The instructors seem to have a editor’s script and tend to phone in their critiques. Now, I’m sure the instructors are over worked, and sick of critiquing kid’s crappy assignments. I’ve gotten back critiques and been totally pissed that, every panel, was written in, “great job”. And nothing much else.

  5. To each their own, I’m preparing to take the Story Graphics course and I can’t wait!
    I know I’m going to enjoy the work and the assignments. Looking forward to the critiques. By the two courses I’ve already taken, they seem to care just fine.

  6. In the below statement, who is this other instructor/school specifically, please?

    “For another correspondence course I had taken, the instructor would type out a letter explaining what I had done right or wrong. ”


    1. It was the Famous Artists School. I have also done the Art Instruction Schools, and London Art College. The instructors varied. But there would be a letter explaining where you had trouble, and where you succeeded.

  7. I just completed my first assignment of the Story Graphics course, can’t wait for the critique!
    I’m looking forward to learning and improving even more. I do wish the Kubert school would introduce some new correspondence courses. An advanced course that required the student to draw an entire story, maybe eight to ten pages would be excellent.

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