The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 297 | Filipino artist spotlight: Teny Henson, Fabie Infante, and Tor Infante

Leaving Proof 297 | Filipino artist spotlight: Teny Henson, Fabie Infante, and Tor Infante
Published on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by
In today’s Filipino artist spotlight: the brilliant DC Comics horror and war anthology illustrator Quintin “Teny” Henson, one-time House of Mystery contributor Fabie Infante, and underrated Continuity Comics penciler Nestor “Tor” Infante.

Author’s Note: Readers who have been following me on Tumblr will know that I’ve recently started a series of weekly posts highlighting the the “Filipino Wave” artists who worked on the horror, sci-fi, western, war, fantasy, and sword-and-sorcery comics published by DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Warren Publishing, and other outfits in the 1970s and 1980s. Today’s column is a collection of the most recent posts in the series.  

As with all the art I post in this blog, the images below are being shared in the spirit of fair use.

Teny Henson

If there is one characteristic that can be said to unify the work of the most prolific and prominent Filipino Wave artists, it is florid linework. At their best, these masters of the pen and the ink brush could elevate even the most banal DC, Marvel, and Warren comics anthology filler stories to the status of miniature masterpieces, packing panel upon panel with rendered texture and detail (although at their worst, the predilection for “noodling” could be a distraction, with all the “visual noise” taking away from the focus of the storytelling).

However, not all of the Filipino Wave illustrators shared this inclination. A good number of them took a more measured approach to the art and craft of inking, and one of the best from this group is the subject of today’s post, the late Quintin “Teny” Henson. (NOTE: Henson was almost always credited as “Tenny Henson” in his American comics work.)

Teny Henson already had over 25 years of comics-illustrating experience by the time he made his American comics debut in 1975 (inking Sheldon Mayer’s pencils for DC’s Limited Collectors’ Edition Presents: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), having gotten his start as a professional artist in the Filipino komiks industry during the late 1940s. (Click here to see a sample of his excellent Filipino komiks work.)

His first solo pencil-and-ink work for DC Comics, a depressing little six-pager written by Robert Kanigher that appeared in Weird Mystery Tales #20 (July 1975), shows subtly effective framing and composition that emphasizes a sense of dread and foreboding:

Henson’s next solo artist assignment was another six-page collaboration with Kanigher for Weird Mystery Tales, a work that would further solidify his reputation as one of the Filipino Wave’s better visual storytellers:

Henson’s more minimalist and stylized approach to comics art (relative to those employed by his Filipino Wave peers) also made him a great fit for the science-fiction and fantasy stories in Weird War Tales and the dark humor of the “shock suspenstory” style tales that regularly appeared in DC’s horror anthologies:

More than just a horror/fantasy comics specialist, Henson also drew several war strips, mostly forG.I. Combat. One of his finest war strips is “Christmas Dinner,” a lighthearted holiday-themed back-up story that appeared in The Unknown Soldier #237 (March 1980) which features a great sense of comedic timing and acting:

All in all, Henson penciled and/or inked around 90 strips for DC Comics over a ten-year period between 1975 and 1985.

Like many of the Filipino Wave artists, Henson made the transition from comics to animation in the 1980s as superheroes came to dominate the American comics scene and the horror, fantasy, and  war comics anthologies went out of vogue. For Filmation Associates, Henson worked as a layout artist for Blackstar (13 episodes) and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (130 episodes) and as a production designer for Bravestarr (65 episodes) and its animated feature film spin-off, Bravestarr: The Legend. Other highlights of his animation career include stints as a storyboard artist on Tiny Toon Adventures (4 episodes), Exosquad (39 episodes), Skeleton Warriors (13 episodes), X-Men (30 episodes), and RoboCop: Alpha Commando (40 episodes).

Henson passed away in 2013.

Teny Henson’s American comics bibliography (NOTE: I’ve elected to list only the comics stories that Henson penciled and inked. To see a complete list of his American comics credits, please refer to Henson’s Comic Book Database page):

  • “Madness of the Moon,” DC Special Series #7, December 1977, DC Comics
  • “The Armchair Warrior,” G.I. Combat #209, August-September 1978, DC Comics
  • “The Fugitive from Stalag XIV,” G.I. Combat #216, October-November 1979, DC Comics
  • “Jump to Glory,” G.I. Combat #228, April 1981, DC Comics
  • “Passport for Escape,” G.I. Combat #231, July 1981, DC Comics
  • “Homecoming for a Fighting Gurkha,” G.I. Combat #233, September 1981, DC Comics
  • “Dead Heat of Battle,” G.I. Combat #259, November 1983, DC Comics
  • “Beware the Cry, ‘Kamerad,’” G.I. Combat #275, March 1985, DC Comics
  • “No Allies in Death,” G.I. Combat #278, July 1985, DC Comics
  • “Our Good German Ally,” G.I. Combat #279, September 1985, DC Comics
  • “The Glowing Specters of the Swamp,” Ghosts #45, January-February 1976, DC Comics
  • “Showdown with a Specter.” Ghosts #48, July-August 1976, DC Comics
  • “The Specter of the Haunted Highway,” Ghosts #73, February 1979, DC Comics
  • “An Echo from the Tomb,” Ghosts #81, October 1979, DC Comics
  • “The Spirit in the Flying Coffin,” Ghosts #86, March 1980 , DC Comics
  • “Came the Spectre Shrouded in Seaweed,” Ghosts #89, June 1980, DC Comics
  • “Un-Bury the Phantoms,” Ghosts #92, September 1980, DC Comics
  • “Double Vision,” Ghosts #92, September 1980, DC Comics
  • “The Flaming Phantoms of Frightmare Alley,” Ghosts #93, October 1980, DC Comics
  • “Spectral Bullets Cannot Kill,” Ghosts #95, December 1980, DC Comics
  • “Deadman’s Clutch,” Ghosts #96, January 1981, DC Comics
  • “The Phantom Strangler,” Ghosts #96, January 1981, DC Comics
  • “Go To Hades,” House of Mystery #260, September 1978, DC Comics
  • “The Grimble,” House of Mystery #262, November 1978, DC Comics
  • “A Model Murder,” House of Mystery #270, July 1979, DC Comics
  • “The Senior Sin,” House of Mystery #293, June 1981, DC Comics
  • “The Unveiling,” House of Mystery #295, August 1981, DC Comics
  • “What Am I Bid,” Secrets of Haunted House #5, December 1975-January 1976, DC Comics
  • “Over Your Own Dead Body,” Secrets of Haunted House #15, August 1979, DC Comics
  • “Beware of 13,” Secrets of Haunted House #16, September 1979, DC Comics
  • “Hide and Seek,” Secrets of Haunted House #29, October 1980, DC Comics
  • “Skin Deep,” Secrets of Haunted House #29, October 1980, DC Comics
  • “The Short-Road to Damnation,” Secrets of Haunted House #31, December 1980, DC Comics
  • “Just One More,” Star Spangled War Stories #196, February 1976, DC Comics
  • “Killing Machine,” Star Spangled War Stories #199, May 1976, DC Comics
  • “Hunger of the Dying,” The Unexpected #173, May-June 1976, DC Comics
  • “Mad Hacker of Kingston Row,” The Unexpected #175, September-October 1976, DC Comics
  • “The Killer Shark,” The Unexpected #184, March-April 1978, DC Comics
  • “Home to Your Grave,” The Unexpected #194, November-December 1979, DC Comics
  • “The Curse of Ozzie and Mary,” The Unexpected #194, November-December 1979, DC Comics
  • “My Ghost Writer the Vampire,” The Unexpected #197, April 1980, DC Comics
  • “Project Eternity,” The Unexpected #199, June 1980, DC Comics
  • “Hopping Down the Bunny Trail,” The Unexpected #202, September 1980, DC Comics
  • “A Nightmare Must End,” The Unexpected #206, January 1981, DC Comics
  • “Christmas Dinner,” Unknown Soldier #237, March 1980, DC Comics
  • “Eternal Sentinel,” Unknown Soldier #251, May 1981, DC Comics
  • “The Veil of Death,” Weird Mystery Tales #20, July 1975, DC Comics
  • “Meet My Murderer,” Weird Mystery Tales #22, September 1975, DC Comics
  • “The Hordes of Hell,” Weird War Tales #52, April 1977, DC Comics
  • “The War on the Edge of Reality,” Weird War Tales #85, March 1980, DC Comics
  • ‘The Last Shot Fired,” Weird War Tales #96, February 1981, DC Comics
  • “War Games,” Weird War Tales #104, October 1981, DC Comics
  • “The Girl Who Grew Younger,” The Witching Hour #69, March 1977, DC Comics
  • “The Crime of Your Life,” The Witching Hour #73, September 1977, DC Comics
  • “Who Will Kill X-13,” The Witching Hour #79, April 1978, DC Comics
  • “Two Faces of Evil,” The Witching Hour #81, June 1978, DC Comics

Fabie F. Infante

A prolific artist in the Filipino komiks scene (a small gallery of his Filipino komiks art can be seen here), Fabie Infante had the unfortunate timing of breaking into the American comics scene just as DC Comics’ demand for Filipino art was winding down. He has a single American comics credit as far as I know, a two-page filler in House of Mystery #303 (April 1982) that is perhaps most notable for the fact that it took two(!) writers to pen:

Fabie F. Infante is the brother of the much more well-known Filipino artist Nestor F. Infante (a.k.a. Tor Infante, a.k.a. Ernesto Infante), by the way, although I am unsure as to who is the senior sibling. More on the latter Infante below.

Nestor F. Infante

Nestor F. Infante (alternatively credited in his American comics work as “Tor Infante” and “Ernesto Infante”) started working in comics in the mid-1970s, garnering acclaim among readers and his peers for his work with legendary Filipino komiks scribe Mars Ravelo on the Tagalog-language serial graphic novel Sisid, Dyesebel, Sisid (roughly translates to Dive, Dyesebel, Dive), which was later adapted into a full-length feature film released in 1978.

A solid draftsman in the mold of Nestor Redondo, it wasn’t until 1980 that Infante started working for DC Comics, making his debut with a three-page story in Ghosts #95 (December 1980):

Infante would go on to illustrate ten more strips between 1981 and 1987 for DC’s G.I. Combat, House of Mystery, Sgt. Rock, Weird War Tales, and The Unexpected (including the lead story for the final issue of The Unexpected, reproduced below).

Infante focused on his Filipino komiks output for the remainder of the 1980s and the early 1990s, reinventing his style and adopting a more dynamic approach to sequential art informed as much by film cinematography as it was by comics and quickly establishing a reputation as one of the local industry’s preeminent visual storytellers (Reanimator and Army of Darkness artist Randy Valiente breaks down Infante’s storytelling technique in a blog post here—it’s written in Filipino, but the accompanying images need no translation.)

Infante was “rediscovered” by Neal Adams in 1992, the legendary Green Lantern and X-Men artist recognizing that Infante’s strengths as an artist were well-suited to the prevailing trend in superhero comics art at the time that emphasized visual bombast and unconventional paneling. Infante was installed as one of the featured artists in Adams’ Continuity Comics stable, and he went on to pencil multiple issues of the 1993 volumes of Ms. Mystic and Megalith (on the latter series, Infante would be inked by industry veterans such as Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Rubinstein, Dan Barry, and Adams himself).

Unfortunately, Continuity Comics would shut its doors in 1994 due to sluggish sales and the financial toll taken by Adams’ legal troubles. Infante’s next gig was at Acclaim Comics (the former Valiant Comics), which had acquired the publishing rights to a number of Continuity Comics properties. Infante was assigned the penciler duties on the short-lived Knighthawk series, where he was again inked by Adams.

Writing in Comic Book Artist magazine in 2004, British artist and comics historian David A. Roach described Infante’s work on Ms. Mystic, Megalith, and Knighthawk as among “the finest examples of ‘90’s superhero comics,” integrating “beautiful drawing (reminiscent of [Neal] Adams or [José Luis] García-López) with the adrenaline rush-style exuberance of the [Image Comics] artists.”

Knighthawk would turn out to be Infante’s final stint in American comics, and he would return to the Filipino komiks scene for good after the series’ cancellation. Infante remained active as a comics artist and fine arts illustrator/painter until his death in 2011 from a stroke.

Nestor Infante’s American comics bibliography:

  • “Flowers of Freedom,” G.I. Combat #249, January 1983, DC Comics
  • “Operation Double-Cross,” G.I. Combat #277, May 1985, DC Comics
  • “The Man Who Lost His Spirit,” Ghosts #95, December 1980, DC Comics
  • “Fetched,” House of Mystery #298, November 1981, DC Comics
  • “The Old Boy Network,” House of Mystery #309, October 1982, DC Comics
  • Knighthawk #2, September 1995, Acclaim Comics/Valiant Comics (Windjammer): pencils only (with Neal Adams)
  • Knighthawk #3, October 1995, Acclaim Comics/Valiant Comics (Windjammer): pencils only
  • Knighthawk #4, October 1995, Acclaim Comics/Valiant Comics (Windjammer): pencils only
  • Knighthawk #5, November 1995, Acclaim Comics/Valiant Comics (Windjammer): pencils only
  • Knighthawk #6, November 1995, Acclaim Comics/Valiant Comics (Windjammer): pencils only (with Neal Adams)
  • Megalith #0, April 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only
  • Megalith #1, April 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only
  • Megalith #3, August 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only
  • Megalith #4, October 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only
  • Megalith #5, December 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only
  • Megalith #6, December 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only
  • Ms. Mystic Deathwatch 2000 #1, May 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only (pp. 13–26)
  • Ms. Mystic Deathwatch 2000 #2, June 1993, Continuity Comics: pencils only (pp. 14–24)
  • “The Monk and the Machine-Gunner,” Sgt. Rock #416, June 1987, DC Comics
  • “A Monstrous Crime,” The Unexpected #207, February 1981, DC Comics
  • “I’ll Remember You Yesterday,” The Unexpected #218, January 1982, DC Comics: inks only
  • “Lilacs in February,” The Unexpected #222, May 1982, DC Comics
  • “The Way of the Horse,” Weird War Tales #95, January 1981, DC Comics
  • “The Head of the Battalion,” Weird War Tales #112, June 1982: inks only
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