Friday, April 5, 2013

R.I.P. Carmine Infantino.

Carmine Infantino, the artist whose late ‘50s and ‘60s DC Comics artwork literally ushered in the Silver Age of Comics, passed away at the age of 87, on April 04, 2013.

No one could tell the story of Carmine Infantino better than Mark Evanier, at THIS LINK.

As for me, I’ll limit my own tribute to the characters closest to me, The Flash and Batman.

Consider the great artists who have become synonymous with the Silver Age: Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Steve Ditko, and so many more – and then consider that the single most creative burst in the history of the medium (Yes, more so than even the Golden Age, which stated it all!), was conceived in the literal “Big Bang” of this issue!

Infantino followed this with more Flash SHOWCASE issues.

And then THE FLASH resumes its own series, with early covers like these…



 …One of the best known images of the Silver Age…

…Ones like these (tributed in the JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED episode “The Brave and the Bold”)…
…And my personal favorite…

Then, he moved on to BATMAN, and put the “dynamic” back into the “Dynamic Duo”! 
BATMAN # 166
BATMAN # 167

BATMAN # 169

BATMAN # 190

He brought The Riddler back from obscurity in this comic...
BATMAN # 171

 ...gave us the first Silver Age Scarecrow in this issue...

BATMAN # 189

...And created the look of Poison Ivy for this one. 

BATMAN # 181

I also feel that Infantino’s unique version of Batman was what led to this famous logo image.
BATMAN # 183

In the eighties, he returned to THE FLASH, for the infamous “Trial” storyline.

 And also SUPERGIRL.


So classic was his initial FLASH cover that it took on many forms.

Carmine Infantino left us with such an incredible body of work, that it is impossible to catalogue it within the confines of a single Blog post. Suffice it to say this talented artist's output stands as expertly rendered, trend-setting, and historic work that all comic book fans will remember forever.

BATMAN # 194

Straight to stylized, he did it ALL!


Bruce Kanin said...

Sad news but what a wonderful tribute on your blog, Joe. Love those classic covers, particularly those that were milestones.

Back in the 60s I didn't read much JLA, THE FLASH and GREEN LANTERN. Not even much BATMAN. My fledgling comic book collection was focused on the Superman Family. It wasn't until the late 70s - when I finally had an income - that I branched out and bought 60s back issues of many of the Silver Age DC heroes' comic books.

And of course that included THE FLASH. I loved Curt Swan's Superman and Gil Kane's GL, but Carmine Infantino had such a distinctive look. He made Flash zoom (with no apologies to the Scarlet Speedster's evil doppleganger, Professor Zoom ;) ). Really, Infantino's characters were alive whether they were standing still or in action.

His trademark, to me, was, believe it or not, the mouth. Infantino seemed to exaggerate one side of a character's mouth - and if I remember correctly this occurred more and more as the Silver Age went on, and mainly with villains. It was almost like an Edward G. Robinson, "Yeah, see?"

I was disappointed when Infantino left THE FLASH for Batman's books because I didn't collect them, but in more recent years have caught up with his work there via compilations, and love his work on the Caped Crusader & co.

Even Carmine's last hurrah with Flash, in that hero's own last hurrah during the so-called Bronze Age, when he went on trial for murdering the aforementioned Professor Zoom, was wonderful, despite his pencils and inker's inks not being as stellar as the Silver Age.

A master artist is gone. Thankfully he left us a lot of material to remember him by.



Ryan Wynns said...


Oh, wow ... I seem to be slow on the uptake: when I responded to your comment on my blog's most recent post, it didn't register that you had written, "R.I.P. Carmine Infantino!" because he'd JUST passed away. I should've known better, for several raesons.

Great post, Joe -- you really have displayed and conveyed Infantino's legacy. What a resplendent pictorial history you've assembled!

I would go so far as to say that "Flash of Two Worlds!" is THE most imporant story of the Silver Age, or at least the most important DC story of the Silver Age. (An argument could surely be made that as far as characterization and social relevance, some Lee-Kirby story or other is THE one.)

For the next decade and a half, the annual JSA-JLA team-ups were one of the year's high points. And those crossovers STILL, to this day, hold the fascination of younger/new fans. (At least in the case of me...)

If Schwartz, Fox, and Infantino had collectively written DC's `40's ouvre as antiquated and thus eschewed the idea for "Flash of Two Worlds!", not only may we have never gotten those annual crossovers ... not only would DC continuity and inter-title relatedness be forever enriched by the concept of the coexistence of Earth-1 and Earth-2 ... there may not have ever been a Crisis on Infinite Earths. The cause-and-effect of that unequivocal classic can be traced all the way up through the present, with the current Earth 2 ongoing comic. (...which I've found to be abysmal, and I believe that the idea of actually rebooting Earth-2 is a really stupid and self-invalidating one, but that's for another time...)

Infantino's art was impeccably clean and stately. I can see why to this day, fans maintain that by virtue of its "edginess", Silver Age Marvel was superior to Silver Age prim-and-proper DC. But Infaninto's style had its place, and I believe that in particular, "Flash of Two Worlds!" and its sequels, as well as the Green Lantern stories of the same nature, were MEANT to be done by Infantino. The composure and literalness of his art gave those stories a certain hallowed "respect for one's heroic forefathers" glow.

R.I.P. Carmine Infantino, indeed.

-- Ryan

Joe Torcivia said...

Bruce and Ryan:

Magnificent tributes by both of you!

Indeed, what I did with cover illustrations, each of you did with your own heartfelt words!

I daresay, the most telling aspect of this coming together is that we have one moving comment from Bruce, who WAS there for Infantino’s heights, and an equally moving one from Ryan, who was not alive during the Silver Age.

If this transcendence of generations does not illustrate the greatness of Infantino’s work, surely nothing else *I* can say will do so!

As I said in the post, the Silver Age of Comics was “…the single most creative burst in the history of the medium”. And, while Jack Kirby may have ultimately ended up as “The King”, Carmine Infantino was the “Big Bang” that started it all!

Finally, how could ANYONE resist (at least picking up, if not buying) that FLASH issue that commands you to: “STOP! Don’t pass up this issue! My LIFE depends on it!” It remains my favorite cover of the series to this day!

DC’s philosophy, at the time of the Silver Age, was that the COVER sold the book – to the point that covers were designed first, and the interior stories were written AROUND THEM!

We could debate the validity of this approach until we reach the time of “DC ONE-MILLION” but, if such an approach was to be undertaken, could there have been a better talent to pull it off than Carmine Infantino? …I don’t think so!

joecab said...

Pretty sad news. At least I got to see carmine when he was here in Boston for a convention some years ago.

Bruce's comment reminds me that I kind of miss the days of a particular artist being closely associated with a title. Teams keep switching in and out so much especially nowadays that it's tough building up long time fans for any comic unless you care more about its title star than the team working on it.

But then any character is only as good as the treatment of said character, so ...

Anyway, thanks for posting this nice little dedication to Mr. Infantino. His style always did work best on the Flash.

Joe Torcivia said...

Agreed, JoeC. I met Julius Schwartz several times, and even Flash and GL writer John Broome at his only convention appearance (and got him to autograph a Silver Age FLASH comic!), but never met Mr. Infantino. I’m glad for your experience.

And, yes… The lack of consistency I complain about in modern comics is because of the never-ending artist, writer, and editorial switches. It’s worse than professional athletes. A particular comic rarely gets to “speak” with one voice for very long, anymore – and that’s to the detriment of both of character and series.

Comicbookrehab said...

I met Infantino twice when he attended the Big Apple Con in Manhattan. I only had two comics drawn by him - an issue of Daredevil written by Jim Shooter and Spider-Woman #1. He was polite and obilge with an autograph. It was a more positive experience than when I met Gene Colan -I think they're being sarcastic when the gave him the "Gentleman" nickname - or maybe that was a bad day for him. But he was only signing if you paid him, knew him or worked for the staff at the event.

an an upbeat note, I'm also glad to have met Joe Giella. i'm not sure if you get those chances these days. It's not like Steve Ditk is going to be appearring at one of these things any time soon - and Alan Moore NEVER visits the U.S.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thanks for sharing the experiences, ‘Rehab! I always enjoy stories of meeting the grand comics people.

I wonder, for someone as indelibly associated with DC as was Carmine Infantino, what he may have thought of someone bringing him Marvel comics to autograph – or if it was all the same to him.

The Gene Colan story surprises me because, as most people have heard, he was said to be one of the nicest guys in the business. I never met him myself. I’d still like to think so, and attribute this to (as you said) a “bad day”, or maybe some behind the scenes business or contractual obligation.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Joe Giella about a decade and a half ago and, in that meeting, learned that he lived mere minutes from me. I wish I’d followed up a little more on that, alas. He was truly a nice guy! …And is probably still mere minutes from me.

Anonymous said...

Not much to add, just the usual comments about what a good artist he was and how he was one of the major talents of the Silver Age. Flash #163 may have been the first solo Flash issue I ever had (although I knew the character from the Justice League). That cover really got your attention, which, of course, is what a magazine cover should do. And if you were a comics fan in the mid-1960s, the Infantino Batman was probably the iconic depiction of the character.

Joe Torcivia said...

So, you REALLY DID “Stop [ and did not ] pass up this issue!” as your first FLASH, Anon?

That’s great!

Anyone I know to have FLASH # 163 either bought it new because they were already buying FLASH, or bought it retroactively as part of their greater run of back issues. But, here’s a case of someone who actually did what Barry Allen so dramatically pleaded with us to do – and for their first issue, no less!

I guess that proves that Carmine and Julie Schwartz knew what they were doing! Even though, as a “would-be / wanna-be / wished-he-was” writer I would have disagreed with their “Cover Comes First – Then Story Follows to Fit Cover” policy. And, it DID result in some wonderfully weird comics – like FLASH # 163, in fact. But, it clearly worked as they intended it to.

And, expanding on this thought a bit (as I often do, in these comments)… If you were living proof of the policy’s success, I was living proof of its reason for being – because I was one of those kids who had to make that agonizing choice each week at the candy store, as to which comics I would purchase and which ones I’d be forced to leave behind, and hope I could come back and get later before they disappeared for what I then believed to be forever.

Of course, it’s silly in retrospect. But, with only a QUARTER for a weekly allowance, and a twelve-cent cover price, it sometimes seemed (to my young and overdramatized mind) that I was making as much of a “life-and-death” choice as a kid could make. And, multiply that by the presumed millions of kids who routinely purchased comic books in the sixties – and maybe The Flash’s “life” really did “depend on our not passing up the issue”. After all, titles like Green Lantern, Aquaman, Blackhawk – and even The Phantom Blot – eventually succumbed to cancellation.

And, I don’t mind admitting that, during my back-issue-accumulating days of the ‘80s and ‘90s, I’d find an issue that I passed up back in the day and say: “Now, I can finally read this one!” And, more often than not, they were just as sweet for the waiting!

But, to bring it back to point, no doubt those Silver Age cover artists (of ALL publishers, even those like Gold Key) certainly had their influence on our collective choices! And, yes… as you aptly note, the Infantino Batman certainly exerted its share of that influence with me.

Comicbookrehab said...

I recall a special Batman-themed issue of "Hero Illustrated" that was promoting the "Knightfall" crossover, in which Carmine admitted that he didn't really like Batman or the Flash - his favorite assignments were things like "Strange Sports Stories" or some of the early sci-fi comics and Detective Chimp (!).

I'm convinced he designed the Batman logo in which the letters in "batman" fit inside the cape like bat wings and used in the TV show titles - the one that was eventually redseigned and used on the covers of Detective Comics in the 70s and early-80s. He's also credited with creating the Barbara Gordon Batgirl design as well.

I don't think he minded signing those two Marvel comics at all, Joe! I recall on both occasions, he was actually VERY eager to do it - maybe it was a nice change of pace from the DC stuff - I wonder if anyone had Star Wars comics for him to sign? :)

RE: Gene Colan - he ignored me, and I had been very patient. At the time, he was being very quiet while approached by "people" (entrepenuers, dealers, accquaintances, people wanting to talk shop) who jumped ahead of me, claiming to know him, on the "line" (it wasn't a line, but a kind-of narrow path - anyone who's been to the Penn Plaza pavilion in NYC for a comic covention is familiar with the cramped quarters) and when I got the snub, I was shocked, because he did not speak when I asked "Hi. Are you signing autographs?" He was sitting next to a woman who was also taken aback and SHE asked me if I would be willing to return at 5 - I said "O.K.", but he gave no response to this...and that's the time when I learned that a lot of creators tend to disappear after 4. it is possible that he didn't like being at this particular event at all - he never went back to it.

Rags Morales is another one. He was riding high from working on "Identity Crisis" and the death of Ted Kord in "Countdown to Infinite Crisis". He was terribly shy when he signed my copy of "Countdown", but the next time I saw him, at another event, I didn't have anything for him, but he was telling other people that he was only signing autographs at ... 5. Here we go...

As for Neal Adams, well, there's plenty of stories about him on the net. I'll charge you $5.00 dollars for mine. If I had a 2nd story, I'd charge an additional ten. ;)

Joe Torcivia said...

Very interesting stuff, ‘Rehab.

We all have stories, and we probably all have “Good” and “Not So Good” lists of experiences with comic-book people – and, I’d be willing to bet that, if we totaled-up people’s experiences, the two lists would very likely be consistent as who ends up on each list.

My personal experiences have been more “Good”, than “Not So Good”, but I also am less likely to approach someone THESE DAYS, as opposed to when things were simpler, more intimate, and just generally nicer. The overall changes in “humanity at large” (for lack of a better descriptive term) may be, at least in SOME way, responsible.

joecab said...

Welp as far as Gene Colan goes, he was a guest at the very first con I ever attended in the Meadowlands in 1977, and he was awfully nice and I bought a Howard the Duck drawing from him. I even accosted him in a hallway with my camera's flash and he laughed and shrugged it off. (I was a HUGE HTD and Colan fan back then -- forgive me!)

George Pérez was there too and I asked him to draw the FF for me. I asked if he could draw them off the top of his head and he chuckled, "I should know how; I've been drawing the title for two years!" Oops! (I had been a fan less than a year at this point and had no idea! Funny.)

Joe Torcivia said...

I never met Gene Colan, JoeC, but your experience is more in line with what I’ve heard over the years.

I hope ‘Rehab’s experience was just a case of an off day and the exception to the rule.

And, I’m STILL a huge HTD and Colan fan! Though Howard’s reign was during the brief time I was out of comics: 1972 thru 1980-81.

I discovered Howard retroactively, along about 1982. A Marvel Comic… about a DUCK? Really? This was a natural for me, so I snapped up the back issues!

In Colan’s HTD # 19, where he becomes “Howard the Human”, did you ever notice how much Howard looks like what would later become the look for Harvey Bullock? Check the cover, especially! And, if Gene Colan didn’t initially design Bullock, he certainly was one of the first artists to solidify the look of the character.

And, to bring it back to Carmine Infantino, he drew HTD # 28 – the first post-Colan issue of the title.

Finally, (blink and you miss it) I had my own tribute to Howard the Duck in Boom!’s DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS # 360 (2010), in the story I titled “Titan of Tae-Kwon-Duk”.

A sign announces the: “Calisota Statewide Martial Arts Tournament: Karate, Quack Fu, Tae-Kwon-Duk”.

Any HTD fans surely caught that!