The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | April 5, 2013: Spotlight on Carmine Infantino

NEWS Round-up | April 5, 2013: Spotlight on Carmine Infantino
Published on Friday, April 5, 2013 by
The NEWS Round-up for April 5 is dedicated to the late Carmine Infantino, artist and former DC Comics editorial director and publisher, who passed away Thursday at the age of 87.

Carmine Infantino (24 May 1925–4 April 2013)

infantino_carmine_2002Carmine Infantino, artist and former DC Comics editorial director and publisher, passed away Thursday as first reported on Facebook by his friend and biographer J. David Spurlock. Infantino was 87 years old.

Born in Brooklyn, New York to a musician-turned-plumber father and a mother who originally hailed from Naples, Italy, Infantino started working as a comics artist while still a student at Manhattan’s School of Industrial Art, first as a part-timer at Harry “A” Chesler‘s studio, and later picking up occasional freelance work as he completed his education.

Infantino would work for a number of studios, “comics packagers,” and publishers throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, freelancing for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby‘s Prize Comics and adding stints as an illustrator on Hillman Periodicals’ Airboy and The Heap and on superhero titles such as Flash Comics, All-Flash, Green Lantern, and Justice Society of America for DC Comics—then still known as National Periodical Publications—to a rapidly growing resumé.

Some samples of Carmine Infantino's early art: Charlie Chan #1 (cover-dated June 1948, illustrated for Simon & Kirby's Prize Comics studio), Flash #92 (cover-dated February 1948), and a page from Hillman Publishing's The Heap.

Some samples of Carmine Infantino’s early published work: Charlie Chan #1 (cover-dated June 1948, illustrated for Simon & Kirby’s Prize Comics studio), Flash #92 (cover-dated February 1948), and a page from Hillman Periodicals’ The Heap.

Showcase #4 (cover-dated October 1956) signaled the start of a new age in comics.

Showcase #4 (cover-dated October 1956) signaled the start of a new age in comics.

It would be in 1956 that Infantino would produce perhaps his most memorable and influential comics creation. Tasked by National Periodical Publications editor Julius Schwartz and writer Robert Kanigher with revamping the Flash character for a story they were working on, the freelancer Infantino created the now-iconic modern Flash design, a highly streamlined and minimalist look that was a radical shift forward from the busy, pulp-styled, costumed adventurer aesthetic typical of the superheroes of previous decades. The first published appearance of this second Flash (real name Barry Allen) in Showcase #4—cover-dated October 1956—is regarded by most, if not all, comics historians as the start of The Silver Age of Comics. As a freelance artist working primarily for National Periodical through late 1967, Infantino would have a direct hand in the design and re-design of numerous characters, including the heroes Wally West (who would later pick up the mantle of the Flash from Barry Allen), Elongated Man, Animal Man, The Phantom Stranger, Deadman, Captain Comet, Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, the “Silver Age” Batman, and Detective Chimp as well as the villains Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Heatwave, the Trickster, Mirror Master, Gorilla Grodd, The Weather Wizard, and Professor Zoom (a.k.a. the Reverse Flash).

Infantino quit freelance work in order to join the permanent staff of National Periodical/DC in 1967 as its art director but it wasn’t too long before he was promoted to editorial director (equivalent to today’s editor-in-chief post), a somewhat unconventional advancement then for someone known primarily as an artist. Infantino was outspoken in his belief that artists contributed as much to comic book storytelling as writers—a concept that is ingrained in comics today, but was still fairly radical at the time—and he would later add artists Joe Kubert, Joe Orlando, and Mike Sekowsky to National’s editor stable. In 1970, Infantino would score a coup by getting his former boss Jack Kirby—disgruntled with his dealings with Marvel Comics—to sign a three-year exclusive contract with National Periodical/DC.

"How I Draw the Flash," a brief instructional demonstration by Infantino published in various DC Comics during the 1970s.

“How I Draw the Flash,” a brief instructional demonstration by Infantino printed in various DC Comics during the 1970s.

In 1971, Infantino was promoted to publisher and one of his first acts in this position was to go to the Philippines with editor Joe Orlando and artist Tony DeZuniga to scout for potential new hires. DeZuniga, who had worked in the Filipino comics industry before immigrating to the United States in the late 1960s, convinced the two men that the Southeast Asian nation’s small but highly proficient pool of professional illustrators and cartoonists had the style, technique, and work ethic that could help National Periodical/DC in its struggle to recover the market share it was losing to cross-town rival Marvel Comics. Infantino and Orlando were impressed with what they saw, and thus began what has been referred to as The Filipino Wave, with respected komiks artists such as Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, Alex Niño, Rudy Nebres, Vicatan, Fred Carillo, Noly Panaligan, and others soon joining DeZuniga on DC’s horror, romance, military, and western comic books.

Tony DeZuniga, Carmine Infantino, Nelson Redondo, and Joe Orlando at the former Manila International Airport in 1971.

Tony DeZuniga, Carmine Infantino, Nestor Redondo, and Joe Orlando in the Philippines, 1971.

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, Infantino encouraged an atmosphere of freewheeling creativity at DC, and it was this reputation that allowed the publisher to attract not just industry legends like Kirby and Joe Simon (who renewed his collaboritve partnership with the former on a new Sandman title), but also younger comics trendsetters like Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, Howard Chaykin, Michael Kaluta, Denny O’Neil, Walt Simonson, Marv Wolfman, and Bernie Wrightson. DC’s output at the time is considered by many fans and scholars as some of the company’s best and most diverse in terms of genre.

Infantino's tenure as DC's publisher saw the company release genre-bending horror titles like Weird Western Tales, Swamp Thing, and Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion alongside  psychedelic sci-fi/superhero comics by Kirby like New Gods, socially-aware conventional superhero books like Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil's Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and just outright bizarre titles like the short-lived Plop!.

Infantino’s tenure as DC publisher was marked by innovation and diversity in content. The company released genre-bending horror titles like Weird Western Tales, Weird War Tales, Swamp Thing, and Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion alongside psychedelic sci-fi/superhero comics by Kirby like New Gods, socially-aware conventional superhero books like Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil’s Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and just outright bizarre titles like the short-lived Plop!.

Infantino returned to DC Comics in 1981 as a freelancer, illustrating The Flash #296.

Infantino returned to DC in 1981, illustrating The Flash #296.

For all of Infantino’s innovations however, DC was still losing readers to Marvel. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World line of comics struggled commercially and the infusion of Filipino talent on DC’s horror, western, and military titles only briefly revived flagging sales of the company’s non-superhero books.

In 1976, he was replaced by 28-year old magazine publishing executive Jenette Kahn. Infantino went back to freelance comics illustration, doing work for Warren Publishing and Marvel and even returning to DC to illustrate The Flash for a four-year run from 1981 to 1985. He would retire from comics illustration in the early 1990s, but would make regular appearances and do sketches for fans on the convention circuit well into the 21st century. In 2000, Infantino was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.

The Comixverse joins the rest of the comics community in sending our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the great Carmine Infantino and expressing our sincerest appreciation for one of the most influential and innovative artist-executives the medium has seen.

In case you missed them…

We have a bunch of new previews for trades and hardcovers coming out next week from Dark Horse:

We also have reviews of several of last month’s new trades and hardcovers. Check them out here.

Fan Expo Vancouver 2013 updates

Don’t forget to check our constantly-being-updated list of special guests for Fan Expo Vancouver, which is set for April 20 and 21, for the latest news on guest confirmations and cancellations and venue/event changes. For those of you flying into town for the event, Air Canada and American Airlines are offering discount codes (FXA8HK41 for the former, 4943DA for the latter). The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Hotel are also offering discounts for Expo attendees (discount code for both hotels: Fanexpovancouver).

Have Your Say
Your Name ↓
Your Email ↓
Your Website ↓
Tell us what you think of this story ↓
You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>
Advertisements

Connect With Us!
The Geeksverse on Instagram
Recent Comments