Carmine Infantino, one of comic books' artistic greats, died last week. He co-created Batgirl, the second version of the Flash, Black Canary and many more. Fans, friends and professionals shared their thoughts on his influence in the days that followed.
“Carmine was a legend,” Jim Lee, DC Entertainment co-publisher said at DCComics.com. “The number of classic covers he created are innumerable. His influence, reach and impact is humbling and will always live on.”
Infantino began drawing comics in the early 1940s. Throughout that decade he drew characters including Airboy, The Heap, Johnny Thunder and the Golden Age Flash.
In 1956, Infantino designed the sleek red-and-yellow costume of the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen. The creation and success of this character sparked the Silver Age of American Comics. Without Infantino's striking, modern Flash bringing superhero sales from the brink for DC Comics, its unlikely Stan Lee and Marvel Comics would have ever had the chance to thrive starting in the 1960s.
Infantino was the artist for “Adam Strange” and launched the “New Look” Batman in the mid-1960s. During his Batman tenure, he co-created the Barbara Gordon “Batgirl.” His work on the New Look Batman is often credited with saving the Batman character.
“It seriously saved the character from cancellation,” wrote Oklahoma's Tommy Brookshire of Bat-blog.com, a popular blog focused on the Batman character. “Yes, we might not have Batman if it was not for him.”
Infantino was art director, then publisher for DC Comics. His covers were instantly memorable. His cover for “Superman” No. 199 featured the Flash in a race with Superman, something that surely had been on the mind of many a young comic-book fan. It's one of my favorite covers, and the comic was a prized possession. A large mockup of it now sits in the window of the comic shop that I own. Its appeal remains timeless; young readers often come in asking who would win in a Superman-Flash race.
Just his DC work would have been more than a career for any number of creators. But later in his career, he moved on to Marvel, where he drew a number of comics for Marvel, including “Star Wars” and “Spider-Woman.”
“Infantino had maintained camaraderie with Marvel's Stan Lee into the 1970's and the two would meet frequently for drinks and dinner at mutually-favorite New York bistro,” Jim Beard wrote at Marvel.com. “The connection would serve him well in the coming years. By 1977 he had left DC and plunged back into the life of a freelancer with work at Warren Publications and animation in Hollywood. Then, “Star Wars” exploded on the scene and everything changed. Marvel acquired the blockbuster's license and Carmine Infantino took on the task of continuing the saga of a ‘galaxy far, far away' for the House of Ideas.”
Some Infantino rarities will be reprinted in the Star Wars Omnibus “Wild Space,” set for release in May.
“Star Wars” wasn't Infantino's only Marvel work. He also illustrated stories for Spider-Woman, Nova, Ms. Marvel, and Howard the Duck. In 1980 he returned to DC, to again illustrate the Flash.
“But his heart proved to be a roaming one,” Beard wrote. “Infantino moved on to teaching, more work for Hollywood, even toy packaging art and design, all of it in the grand style for which he'd made his name.”
Comics fans won't soon forget Infantino's many contributions.
“He redefined an era,” Brookshire wrote. “This guy meant a lot to me, and I feel as if a huge part of my childhood is gone.”