A few days ago the comic book world lost another legend, the great Carmine Infantino passed away at age 87.
Born in Brooklyn in 1925 to an Italian immigrant, Infantino began his career in the early 1940’s and is regarded by many as one of the greatest artists the medium has ever seen. During his freshman year of high school, Infantino began working for Harry A Chesler, whose studio was one of a handful of comic book “packagers” who created complete comics for publishers looking to enter the emerging field in the 1930s-1940s. In one interview Infantino recalled: “I used to go around as a youngster into companies, go in and try to meet people — nothing ever happened. 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.”
From there Infantino’s career moved him to Timely Comics, Holyoke Comics then to DC Comics where he had perhaps his greatest impact on the comic book world. He would go on to co-create some of the most recognizable characters in superhero comics, including Barry Allen (Flash), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), Black Canary, Elongated Man, Deadman, and Animal Man. But he became revered for his work on Barry Allen, with The Flash generally considered the first hero of the Silver Age of comics. Infantino also created his signature red and yellow costume that has changed little throughout the years. Many of the Flash’s famous rogues gallery, from Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Gorilla Grodd and Captain Boomerang, were also co-created by Infantino.
Infantino’s work for DC wasn’t limited to just an artist, in 1967 he became Art Director at DC Comics and later Editorial Director, where his impact was just as great as his previous position. He brought in notable creators such as Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, and Denny O’Neil and in 1971 he was promoted to publisher of DC Comics and held the role for 5 years.
After is stint at DC Comics, Infantino did some work for Warren Publishing and Marvel Comics working on Marvel’s monthly Star Wars comic. It quickly became one of the bestselling books at the time. He returned to DC and the Flash in 1981 and worked on the book for 4 years until it was canceled. After that Infantino moved on and become a teacher at the School for Visual arts in New York, where he stayed until retirement. In all, Carmine Infantino’s career as an artist, editor, publisher, and teacher spanned nearly 60 years.
He bridged both the Golden and Silver ages of comics, shepherding in some of the most successful periods in our history and setting the course of our characters that is still seen today. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will remain forever.