Category Archives: carmine infantino

RIP Carmine Infantino

This is rough, losing two of my influences and inspirations in the same day. Artist, innovator, publisher, and legend Carmine Infantino passed away today at the age of 87.

Other than the “Batman” 1966 TV series, Carmine Infantino was my gateway drug into comics through the old issues of Flash my big brother Warren had. I remember one comic specifically, an 80-Page Giant, issue #169, no cover and missing a few pages but I read my brother’s copy ragged. In it was a feature called ‘How I Draw the Flash’ by Carmine Infantino.

I am no artist by any means, but I was entranced by these two pages and they spurred in me an interest at least to try to draw. I learned perspective, anatomy, and of course comic book dynamics from these two pages of Infantino imparting his artistic secrets. To this day, I can’t draw, but I can draw the Silver Age Flash, thanks to Mr. Infantino.

From those days of reading my brother’s comics, the Flash became my favorite character. I grew up with a Flash written by Cary Bates and illustrated by Irv Novick. That was my Flash, but it was always a known fact, Infantino’s Flash was the real Flash. He was among those that created the first of the Silver Age revamps of the heroes of the Golden Age, the Flash in Showcase #4, a more realistic, scientifically based superhero for a new age.

Not only had he drawn the original scarlet speedster back in the Golden Age, he was a collaborator in bringing back those heroes in the legendary groundbreaking “Flash of Two Worlds” story that created both Earth-2 and began DC Comics’ multiverse. Infantino’s ‘Colors of Evil’ from a rejected comic strip of his were the basis for the Flash’s Rogues Gallery, the most unique assortment of baddies this side of Batman.

Speaking of Batman, he also revamped the character for the Silver Age, giving the stories a more realistic detective feel, and also adding the golden circle to the Bat-symbol. His Batman was just as definitive as his Flash. Infantino also left his mark on such characters as Adam Strange (still one of my favorites thanks to a team-up between the hero and the Justice League in a story by Infantino), Black Canary, the Elongated Man, Dial H for Hero, and others in his time at DC. Later he became the publisher, invigorated design, streamlined production, and put together such event comics as the first meeting of Superman and Spider-Man.

Eventually he left DC as publisher and moved on to other projects like the Marvel version of Star Wars and also Spider-Woman and Nova, and returning to DC to draw the Flash once again, and even Batman in a newspaper strip. He has become one of the industry’s living legends. I got to meet him once at a con, and told him silly stories of my brother, the Flash, and my hideous artistic endeavors. He smiled and laughed. He was that kind of guy.

We have lost one of the big ones. Carmine Infantino was a giant in the industry, a legend of the comics field. He will be missed.

Wizard World Philly – Saturday

Lines around the block, so nice to walk right in avoiding both the crowd and the Stormtroopers, both in costume and out. The Bride and my friend and colleague Ray are with me today.

The costumes are here in force today. Lots of pirates and ninjas and Star Wars characters as opposed to superheroes though. Yesterday we had a Spider-Man and a hot sexy female Boba Fett, and the Suicide Girls of course, but that was a bout it. Today we have many variations of Spider-Man, of both the black and the red and blue persuasions (mysteriously no red and gold ones). There were quite a number of women with cleavage straight out of the Renaissance Faire (the PhilCon girls spring immediately to, um, mind) and also folks who seem to wear a costume every day of their lives anyway. Let’s face it, these cons attract all types.

The last time I was at Wizard World I attended the Steranko panel and it was my favorite part so I thought I’d check out the Jim Steranko and Carmine Infantino panel this time. The status quo was made at the start, that no stories that had been told before would be told today – all new stuff. And while there seemed to be a bit of disdain for the current state and works of the industry, they still talked some great stuff.

They continued a discussion the two men had started last night at dinner – the origin of the new look Batman. The books were losing money and were about to be canceled. Carmine came in, redesigned the costume, the Batmobile, simplified the whole look of the strip and the feel of the stories – that’s when Lamont Dozier saw the book on the stands and the rest is history.

From there other incidents were discussed where the two of them crossed paths.

Steranko talked of how he was the inspiration behind Mister Miracle. While visiting jack Kirby, the King wanted to know why there were so many magician super-heroes – what was the draw? – asking Jim because he was a magician. Although Steranko had no idea he did note that escape artists were more exciting with more sense of suspense, and got Jack a copy of his book about his own escapes. A few months later Mister Miracle appears. When visiting Carmine later, Jim was shown the book and told, “That’s you.” They also both talked about a project called “Rumbles” inspired by West Side Story. It would have been done by DC but they couldn’t meet Steranko’s price.

After the “Batman” TV show, Stan Lee tried to hire Infantino away for $3000 more than he was getting at DC. He was all ready to leave when Leibewitz took Infantino to dinner. They talked about everything but comics, and at the end of the meal he said to Carmine, “I always thought you weren’t afraid of a challenge, but you disappoint me.” Carmine said to him, “I’ll be in tomorrow morning.”

Steranko at the end of his run at Marvel wanted to do something different and experiment in style. “My Love Story” was a romance comic written by Stan Lee and Steranko illustrated it in an arty ad-style with very simple stark colors. Carmine was so impressed over at DC he bought a dozen copies, brought them into a writers meeting and said, “Top this or you’re fired.”

Carmine then talked about and confirmed something I’ve wondered about for many years. The Silver Age Flash is based more on Captain Marvel than the Golden Age Flash. He had tried to peddle a comic strip called Captain Whiz (based on Billy and named after his comic) and the Colors of Evil in the 1950s but no one would buy it. But when Julie Schwartz said they were going to try a new Flash, Carmine took all his designs for Captain Whiz and the Colors of Evil and they became the Barry Allen Flash and the Rogues Gallery. Cool stuff.

Carmine also mentioned ‘Marston’s book’ and at first didn’t want to talk about it but then relented. After his death the widow of William Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, gave Carmine a book of his notes for the character. Regarding Marston’s apparent obsession with bondage, female superiority, fetishes, etc. – it’s all true. Everything in Wonder Woman comics meant something twisted. Wertham was right when it came to Marston and Wonder Woman, and don’t even ask about the little girl with the lollipops.

In the press room, Ray and I got to see Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes” fame. She is so tiny and thin that the picture of her on the cover of the Wizard World guidebook should say “actual size.” As a matter of fact when they say on TV, “Save the cheerleader, save the world,” there is a very real chance they really mean, “Give this girl a sandwich.” Seriously, I’m worried she’s not eating enough.