Friday, April 27, 2007


Carmine Infantino is one of the great living cartoonists, and is best known for drawing BATMAN stories in that character's eponymous title, as well as in DETECTIVE COMICS, and THE FLASH, during "The Silver Age Of Comics (1956-1969, in my opinion) ". His BATMAN work in the early-to-mid 1960's, and later, was perhaps most famous for bringing about the "New Look" BATMAN, with more sophisticated and well-designed drawing than the series had previously had, and the introduction of the yellow moon to BATMAN's chest insignia. Mr. Infantino also drew the stories of "Adam Strange", an Earthman who was transported to a far off planet for many issues of MYSTERY IN SPACE, subsequently reprinted in STRANGE ADVENTURES, and "The Elongated Man", the "stretchable sleuth" who also appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS. Mr. Infantino has been quoted more than once, indicating that the feature 'Detective Chimp" was one of his favorites. This strip about a chimpanzee and his "pet human", Sherrif Chase, is also one of my favorites of the many series that Carmine illustrated. The gentle and charming strip had one story reprinted in DC SPECIAL #1, the "All-Infantino Issue", and that comic book was my best introduction to Carmine's work, and that Detective Chimp, Bobo, even though I had read comic book stroties that Carmine had drawn for about four years already by the time DC SPECIAL #1 was on the newsstands. Mr. Infantino also created the visual look for the new BATGIRL, to make the comic book continuity work with the current season of the then popular 20th CENTURY FOX television series BATMAN, in 1967-1968. All of these works were published by DC COMICS, then known as NATIONAL PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS, though the cover colophon did read "DC", short for the original name of the firm, DETECTIVE COMICS, rather than that comic book itself.
Carmine also worked on the syndicated newspaper feature BATMAN, first during the "Batmania" craze in the 1960's, and again, following the success of the 1989 Tim Burton film, BATMAN, starring Michael Keaton, and also drew that "caped crusader" for small comic books that were inserted as "premiums" in the breakfast/snack food, Kellogg's Pop Tarts.
An aside is that Carmine had earlier developed a very nice looking comic strip, called HOMETOWN, that was intended for newspaper syndication, and was not sold. I would guess that the pain caused by the failure of HOMETOWN was lessened by his success with the two runs on the BATMAN syndicated feature. Samples of HOMETOWN can be found in the 1970's DC COMICS "house magazine", THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS, issue #1, that spotlighted Carmine's career.
Mr. Infantino became editorial director of "DC" in 1967, then the actual publisher shortly thereafter, and, sadly, rarely drew for publication until the mid-to-late 1970's, though he did draw the first appearance of Christopher Chance, "The Human Target", which ran in an issue of SUPERMAN's companion title, ACTION COMICS, in 1972 (the series was drawn by other cartoonists in later issues). "The Human Target" also was a television series, though very short-lived, during the 1990's, and starred soap opera "heartthrob" Rick Springfield.
Mr. Infantino's post as DC publisher was taken over by Jenette Kahn in 1976, and the illustrator soon appeared with work in the pages of DC's chief competitor, MARVEL COMICS.
During his stint at that comic book publisher, Carmine drew SPIDER-WOMAN, and stories for SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP, but, most famously, he illustrated the comic book version of the blockbuster 1977 movie, STAR WARS.
Carmine's work on that feature visually recalled his "Adam Strange" series, and a lot of earlier work, at DC, a company that he would later return to. For MARVEL, one character that Infantino worked on was "The Shroud", a supporting player from SPIDER-WOMAN that much resembled his earlier BATMAN at DC.
Carmine drew a number of short stories for the large format black & white comics, CREEPY and EERIE, for WARREN MAGAZINES, these stories are lovely to look at, as a number of interesting cartoonists collaborated with Carmine, "inking" his work to finish it from the pencilled form for publication.
After this period at MARVEL, then at WARREN, Carmine again was working at DC, returning to drawing THE FLASH, and drawing a revised version of the 1960's series Dial H For Hero", in ADVENTURE COMICS. This series was unique in that readers could create their own characters, and send their ideas in, and some of these were accepted and actually used in the stories. The well-known science fiction writer, Harlan Ellison, was one of these individuals!!!
Mr. Infantino is still with us today, and is sadly no longer drawing, but I am very happy that David Spurlock's company, VANGUARD PUBLICATIONS, produced a book, THE AMAZING WORLD OF CARMINE INFANTINO, a combination art collection and biography of the octogenarian's life and career, the "international standard book number" code is here to search on the internet for this book:

--additions and edits and more will follow!!!

No comments: