Carmine Infantino .com


Carmine Infantino, born in Brooklyn, New York on May 24,1925, is a comic book artist and editor who was a major force in the creation of the Silver Age of comic books.

He started his comics career in the 1940s, and one of his earliest jobs came when he and friend Frank Giacoia drew Jack Frost, with Giacoia penciling and Infantino inking. Infantino worked for several publishers during the 40's, drawing Airboy and The Heap for Hillman, working for the low page rates of the Jack Binder shop (supplying Fawcett Comics ), stopping briefly at Holyoke, then landing back at DC where he became a regular on the Golden Age Black Canary, Green Lantern, Justice Society of America and the Flash.

During the early '50s, he freelanced for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby 's company Prize Comics, drawing Charlie Chan, showing the influence both Kirby and Milton Caniff had on the young artist. At DC, with the demise of most of the '40s heroes, Infantino drew within many genres, including westerns, mysteries and science fiction. As his style continued to evolve, he shed the Kirbyisms and the gritty shading of Caniff, developing his clean linear style of almost pure design, aka the Infantino touch - as though one were seeing a fresh blueprint for the future.

In 1956, he walked into the office of editor Julius Schwartz to drop off some artwork, when Schwartz told him he was going to be drawing super heroes again. Schwartz had made the decision to bring back the Flash for DC's newest title Showcase. The script would be by Robert Kanigher, and Infantino was in charge of finding the look for the new science-fiction based Flash.

Going home to draw the character in a red and yellow uniform, Infantino strived to keep it as simple as possible. He used the theme of blinding speed as a motif for the lighting bolts and wings on the cowl and boots. He relied upon his design abilities to create a new visual language to depict the Flash's speed, making the figure a red and yellow blur. It took a bit for this new version of the Flash character to catch on, going through six tryout issues of Showcase before gaining his own book. Numbering was started with #105, continuing the numbering of the old Flash title of the Golden Age - thus causing most new fans to think that somehow they'd missed 104 issues!

Infantino continued to work for Schwartz in his other titles, most notable becoming the second artist to draw the strip Adam Strange after Mike Sekowsky . With his design sensibilities (he once said he tried to take all the "drawing" out of his pages, but Murphy Anderson kept putting it back in) he soon made the strip his own.

In 1964, Schwartz was also handed the fading Batman titles and asked to try to bring them back to life. Tapped for the job were scripter John Broome and Infantino.

They got rid of the sillier aspects that had crept into the series (Ace the Bathound, Bat-Mite, various alien villains, etc.) and put Batman and Robin back to solving mysteries.

Infantino used his more realistic art style to help made a clean break with the past. The "new look" caused controversy back and forth in the letters pages of fandom for years to come.

The Amazing World Of Carmine Infantino.
© 2004 Vanguard Press

The Flash #123.
Cover art by Carmine Infantino
and Murphy Anderson.

Copyright © 1963 DC Comics

The Batman books ended up selling well, and Infantino was able to chalk up (make that ink in) another victory.

Other work Infantino was doing at this time included various sci-fi stories for Schwartz, in addition to Batman, Elongated Man, Adam Strange and the Flash (plus covers for these books). His work ethic at the time involved a goal of two fully penciled pages a day.

That was remarkable at a time when most artists could usually turn out one (unless you were Jack "King" Kirby or Steve Ditko, who were known for doing several pages a day).

By 1967, as it became obvious that books with Infantino covers seemed to be selling better than others, he was charged with designing covers for the entire company.

When DC was sold to National, Infantino was promoted to Editorial Director. He started by hiring new talent, and promoting artists to editorial positions. Dick Giordano was hired away from Charlton Comics while Joe Orlando, Joe Kurbert and Mike Sekowsky became editors. New titles were started with work from new talents like Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil. Infantino was made publisher in early 1971.

His challenge was reversing the company's declining circulation, but complicating matters, the newly merged company owner, Warner Communications and distributor IDN had little faith in the company beyond the marketability of its characters, and newsstand and grocery stores didn't want to handle a magazine with such low profit margins.

Infantino attempted a number of changes. They in included starting several new books in the late 1960s to early 1970s . They included new series like Bat Lash, the Secret Six, and characters like Deadman and The Creeper came upon the scene. In addition, older characters were revamped, such as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to mixed results. Sales were not there in the beginning, causing Infantino to cancel the books, some believe too early.

Later in 1971, Infantino scored a major coup in signing super star Kirby from Marvel Comics, after Kirby's dispute with partner Stan Lee led him to leave the company. Kirby had been privately developing new characters in his last years at Marvel, but had been reluctant to use them for that company.

At DC, with Infantino, he and his newer creations were now unleashed. Starting in the Jimmy Olsen book, Kirby launched his Fourth World saga with the titles The New Gods, Forever People, and Mister Miracle.

In the early 1980s Infantino also did runs of Star Wars, Spider-Woman, Nova and others for Marvel. In the late '80's he returned to the Flash at DC, where he was much more at home than in the executive offices.

After retiring, Infantino still did interviews once in awhile and made comics convention appearances. He produced an autobiography called The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino. Published by Vanguard Press, it features a cover collage (designed by J. David Spurlock) of beautiful vintage Infantino cover art.

At the age of 87, Infantino passed away in New York on April 4, 2013.

Since the early 1960s, Infantino has been rightly regarded as one of the Top 5 comics artists of all time.

His superb craftsmanship has insured that his position on that very short list has not changed since then, nor will it ever.


DC Database Project info on Infantino
The Flash at DC Comics
Infantino at Lambeik's Comiclopedia
Infantino at Barnes And Noble

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