Forner DC Comics publisher, draftsman and artist extraordinaire, the visionary CARMINE INFANTINO has teleported off-world via Zeta Beam at age 87.
The sad news was first posted by David Spurlock, Vanguard Press Publisher on his Facebook page and within minutes the entire comics and graphic arts community plunged into mourning.
To know Carmine was to know his work. To know Carmine personally was to know that dreams were possible — if one only simply applied themselves.
Words are not going to do this visionary of soaring tomorrows, Scarlet Speedsters and New Look dynamism justice BUT…
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1925, he attended the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan.
While his early work was for Harry Chesler studios and Marvel/Timely Comics in the 1940s he is arguably best known as the artistic creator for designing the jet age era of The Flash and his alter ego Barry Allen. Teamed with writer Robert Kanigher and editor Julie Schwartz in 1956 Carmine’s Flash not only burst the sound barrier, but the time barrier, leaping right through the ben day dotted pages as the Silver Age of Comics exploded onto newsstands with the intensity of a super-nova. Super-Heroes were born anew after the virulent 1950s witch hunt.
Not content to simply draw the Fastest Man Alive, Carmine teamed with writer Gardner Fox to co-create the Farthest Man Alive.
The star spanning exploits of Adam Strange first appeared in Mystery In Space with Carmine penciling the far flung adventures of an archaeologist transported to the planet Rann by mysterious Zeta Beam. Together with his interplanetary sweetheart Alanna, Adam battled menace after menace only to be pulled back to Earth once the effects of the beam wore off. With Carmine drawing, Adam Strange’s other worldly SF adventuring were inspired storytelling of sleek dynamism and Fritz Lang propelled Bauhaus futurism –tempered with the slick inks of Murphy Anderson, Joe Giella and Sid Greene.
In 1964 with the sales of Batman and Detective Comics plummeting into cancellation Infantino and Schwartz launched the New Look of Batman – streamlining the Cowled Crusader and Boy Wonder Robin, into a more realistic, illustrative approach to Gotham’s champion.
Rather than the cartoony Chester Gould inspired “Dick Tracy” look of Batman co-creator Bob Kane and his team of ghost artists, Carmine made the clunky Batmobile a sports car, developed a Cold War hot-line to communicate with law enforcement and, most dramatically, placed the once naked Bat symbol in a yellow oval. THAT more than anything defined the “New Look”.
The revitalized Batman was a sudden smash and inspired the production of the 1966 hit “Batman” TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward.
As a tie-in with the show’s producers, Infantino also co-created Batgirl who made her “Million Dollar Debut” in Detective Comics.
Carmine also co-created Dead Man, The Elongated Man, Detective Chimp and The Human Target among many others.
Infantino was so influential he was made Art Director and then Editorial Director of DC where he oversaw the entire look and feel of the line. He brought in young turks like Neal Adams, Michael Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson to jazz up DC’s art in their ever burgeoning sales war with Marvel Comics.
In 1970 Carmine lured an unhappy Jack Kirby away from partner Stan Lee at Marvel to create the mind-altering Fourth World titles – “The New Gods”, “Mr. Miracle” “The Forever People” AND “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen” reboot.
In 1971 Carmine became DC Comics’ Publisher – the first artist to ever do so — but in a shocking corporate coup d’etat was ousted in 1976, returning to his first love drawing.
Ironically, he then worked for longtime rival Marvel drawing “Star Wars”, “Spider-Woman” and “Nova” during the 1970s and 1980s before returning to DC and delineating “The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl”.
“I used to go around as a youngster into companies, go in and try to meet people — nothing ever happened,” Carmine recalled in an interview.
“One day I went to this place on 23rd Street, this old broken-down warehouse, and I met Harry Chesler. Now, I was told he was a mean guy and he used people and he took artists. But he was very sweet to me. He said, 'Look, kid. You come up here, I'll give you a dollar a day, just study art, learn, and grow.' That was damn nice of him, I thought.
“He did that for me for a whole summer.”
Carmine did THAT for us all summer long and his legacy will endure a thousand summers more.
Regards to Alanna when you see her.