Thursday, April 4, 2013

R.I.P. Carmine Infantino (May 24, 1925 to April 4, 2013)

Who's to say whether the Silver Age of comic book super heroes would have taken off as it did if not for the contributions of Carmine Infantino? He designed the second (and best) Flash's unforgettably streamlined Jet Age costume and drew his adventures from 1956 to 1967, then returned to draw the Flash's final tales from 1981 to 1985. He was the artist on The Flash when I began reading super hero comics as a kid. The Flash was my favorite super hero even when his comic book became bogged down in an interminable and legally erroneous (as it was self-defense under the law) storyline about our hero's manslaughter trial, and even after The Flash was canceled to clear the decks for D.C.'s ill-conceived Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Flash is still my favorite D.C. super hero, and when I picture the Flash, I picture a drawing by Mr. Infantino. He was the perfect artist for the fastest man alive.

No one conveyed speed quite like Mr. Infantino! Let us not forget that he also helped create the "New Look" Batman with the yellow oval on his chest. Quite a change from Bob Kane's various ghost artists. Mr. Infantino brought Batman into the modern era.

Not to mention he co-created Batgirl, everyone's favorite "dominoed dare-doll."

But for that, we never would have had Yvonne Craig looking like this. Hubba hubba!

According to the infallible Wikipedia, Mr. Infantino was cited in a Comics Buyer's Guide poll as the greatest penciller of all time. I'm sure some would argue about that, in fact I know some would. By strange coincidence, I was visiting another blog today and defending Mr. Infantino's late-period artwork in the pages of The Flash, Spider-Woman, and the "Dial H for Hero" feature in Adventure Comics. While his art had become highly stylized in his later work, I would argue it was at least as great as his work in the '50s and '60s. I certainly enjoyed it and wish I could draw like that.

Perhaps his stylistic changes are an acquired taste that requires more work on the part of the reader to be appreciated than the more conventional art done by the photorealistic/commercial artists that seem to have come into vogue in the comic book world. Mr. Infantino was a master of laying out panels so as to guide the reader's eye through the page. He also designed many of the greatest comic book covers of all time. Just Google for yourself!

Goodbye, Mr. Infantino.

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