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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #207

The spotlight shines today on a terrific artist who defined comics’ Silver Age! (Also, the archive now has 0% trans-fat and 100% Reasons to Love Comics.)

(Updated 7/27 with even more beautiful images!)

7/26/07

207. Carmine Infantino

Infantino 5.jpg

Carmine Infantino just turned 82 this past May, and it’s high time he appeared on this list. His art style is quite snazzy and has grown and changed over time.

His first break came at Timely Comics with some inking work, and after bouncing around from job to job, he landed at DC, drawing Golden Age greats like Flash Comics. He also co-created Black Canary at the time with our man Robert Kanigher.

Carmine’s claim to comics fame, however, would come when he ushered in the Silver Age on the cover of Showcase #4. Editor Julie Schwartz was keen on revamping some of DC’s classic superhero stable, and the Flash was first up. Infantino penciled the issue, written by Kanigher and inked by the mighty Joe Kubert. Naturally, it was a smash success. The art was slicker and more realistic than most of DC’s fare at the time, and readers ate it up. His Flash was elegantly detailed, and the books featured superb character work and emotive depiction. And man, those covers! There were some really brilliant covers during this run.

Infantino 9.JPG

Infantino 10.JPG

Infantino 4.jpgInfantino 6.jpgInfantino 7.jpg

Infantino also designed all the most classic Rogues, from Gorilla Grodd to the Trickster to Mirror Master to Captains Cold and Boomerang– strange, bizarre, sometimes gaudy lunatics who nonetheless had an irresistible charm to their appearances and personalities. Also, his Central City was a mighty beast with tremendous skylines (some say the city must have been truly massive). The artist would return to the Flash years later in the ’80s as well with a slightly different style; he saw Barry Allen through to the end of his run.

Infantino 8.jpgInfantino 2.JPG

It was during his original Flash run that Carmine co-created and drew my favorite character, the Elongated Man! Mr. Infantino’s best work on the Dibnys, however, came about in the Elongated Man back-ups in Detective Comics several years later. Infantino inked his own pencils on quite a few of these stories, giving us my personal favorite look to his art. It provided an intriguingly rough and scratchy look to the art that really worked. Check it out in this following page (which follows immediately from the “ear in the fireplace” page in the Elongated Man entry):

Infantino 1.JPG

Infantino really knew how to portray Ralph; the depictions of his stretchiness were top-notch, and the rough-hewn style is great to look at.

Infantino also designed the “new look” Batman, putting the yellow oval around the Bat-insignia and bringing his sleek style to the book. He was the first artist who didn’t ghost for Bob Kane– because Infantino’s style was too recognizable! Hah. Yes, this is the run that saved the Bat-titles from cancellation and inspired the amazing ’60s TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward. It was considerably less silly than the wacky sci-fi Batman of the ’50s, turning reader’s attention to mysteries and classic baddies.

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(There are the Infantino Hands! Carmine was the guy who added those little hands onto caption boxes or between panel borders and the like, for a fun little touch.)

Luckily, DC is kind enough to print giant Showcase volumes of Infantino’s work on Flash, Batman and Elongated Man! Hurray!

Carmine’s also noted for being the co-creator and original artist of Deadman, with writer Arnold Drake, and for drawing a great Adam Strange run in Mystery in Space. He also eventually became a company-wide cover designer when it was discovered that Infantino covers sold better than anyone else’s.

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By the late ’60′s, Carmine was promoted to editorial director, and became publisher of DC by the early ’70s. He brought quite a few excellent artists into the DC fold, and managed to nab Jack Kirby! He also revamped several of DC’s characters (like Superman, as we discussed a few days ago) and dealt with some harrowing comics-pricing issues. It was a really neat time for creativity at DC, but he eventually exited the post and returned to drawing. He hopped over to Marvel for a bit, drawing Nova and Star Wars, but went back to DC and the Flash.

Carmine Infantino is the definitive Silver Age artist who brought excitement back to the pages of superhero comics. Without him, superheroes may not have come back into prominence and the Silver Age never would’ve happened. We would’ve lost a great era of imagination. Thankfully, we had Carmine, dutifully drawing away and producing beautiful, expressive work. Thanks for the memories, sir– enjoy your retirement.

For more on Mr. Infantino, visit www.carmineinfantino.com, and read this neat “Infanterview” with Gary Groth from the Comics Journal. There’s also the cool Infantino tribute at Dial B for Blog. Enjoy!

And does anyone have a link to that cool Infantino self-portrait where he chastises a banana-eating Gorilla Grodd? I can’t find it on the internet, but I know it’s out there. Help me out, dear readers!

16 Comments

Flash
AHHHHH
saviour of the universe

I gotta love Infantino for, if nothing else, creating my all time favorite DC franchise and hero. I love his silver age stuff primarily. Its awesome to see how he evolved from golden age all the way up to the last issue of Barry’s book. I can understand why Barry Allen fans are so fanatical.

And, of course, Carmine’s brother gave us Jim Infantino, of Jim’s Big Ego, who gave us “The Ballad of Barry Allen”, one of the best superhero songs. Ever.

For me Carmine Infantino is THE Barry Allen Flash artist.

Just as Curt Swan was THE Superman artist, Carmine Infantino was THE Flash artist.

Rohan Williams

July 26, 2007 at 9:34 pm

If Infantino isn’t the best cover artist ever, I’m not sure who is.

Carmine Infantino is also responsible for one of my favourite Con stories ever.
He was being interviewed and someone in the crowd asks:
“How do you feel about DC killing Barry in ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’.”
“Who? Barry?”
A DC staffer leans over and says, “The Flash, Carmine. Our Flash.”
Carmine thinks for a bit and says, “Eh, what? You got anuddah one!”

Wow. He draws fabric in motion like a freaking god. He just seems to capture movement effortlessly in all those panels. What an artist! This sort of thing is why I’ve ended up reading this column every morning!

I’ll add to the general praise with my absolute love of Infantino’s fight sequences in ‘Elongated Man’. The one pictured above is a great one, but they’re all like that; vibrant, dynamic and cleverly structured to really bring the character’s abilities to the forefront. Great, great artist.

The Kirbydotter

July 27, 2007 at 7:31 am

The Silver Age was basically started by three guys:
Julius Schwartz, Gil Kane and of course Carmine Infantino.

My favorite Carmine Infantino stuff is the DC sci-fi stuff. The Adam Strange run, of course but also all those great MYSTERY IN SPACE and STRANGE ADVENTURES anthologies. Talking gorillas, living skyscrapers, earth-stealing aliens, etc.

‘Ductile detective’. Hee.

He just seems to capture movement effortlessly in all those panels.

Yeah, that EM sequence is real genius. I think Infantino may be the most purely talented of the artists you’ve spotlited so far this week…OK, tie between him and Simonson.

Loved his Star Wars stuff as a kid. It was years before I realized he had done other work…

Jeff Albertson

July 27, 2007 at 11:06 am

Although I liked a lot of books he put out as DC’s published, I weep to think of how cool it would have been if he had kept drawing regularly through those years.

THE Flash artist, the Science Fiction artist, and probably my first Batman artist. A wonderful talent.

From the aforementioned (and admittedly excellent) DIAL B FOR BLOG site, this picture is worth one thousand, uh, kilometres…

http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/9/howidrawflash_big.gif

I know him from his Star Wars (the comics that got me into comics)…always thought he drew everyone strangely Asian looking. Still some great stuff (and I have the original of my absolutely favorite page from his run on my wall). (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Image:Wheel.JPG)

Hey SCAVENGER: My first Carmine art (reading, not owning!) was early-’80s Marvel as well, and I agree w/your assessment that his stylized heads sdidn’r really do it for me, particularly on his AVENGERS run. Years later, I got into the good stuff and have never looked back. But I recently reread those AVENGERS issues and visually, they did not age well. So IMO, his style was changing and it wasn’t working.

I believe that Mr. Infantino not only drew well, and made the silver age flash a star, along with Adma Strange and Elongated Man, but that he has a really cool signature.

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