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Famous Like Me > Writer > I > Carmine Infantino

Profile of Carmine Infantino on Famous Like Me

Name: Carmine Infantino  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 24th May 1925
Place of Birth: New York, New York, USA
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Carmine Infantino (May 24, 1925-) is a comic book artist and editor who was a major force in the Silver Age of Comic Books. He was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States.

Early career

Carmine Infantino started his comics career in the 1940s, after DC editor Shelly Mayer told him and friend Frank Giacoia that he wasn't ready for comics yet, he should go away, stay in school, and draw everything he could, then come back. Carmine then started work for Harry Chesler, not drawing, but hanging around and soaking it all in, learning how to draw like a comic book artist. He later found employment at Quality Comics where was in charge of whitening out any lines that strayed outside the panel borders (a particular annoyance of owner 'Busy' Arnold). He finally got a job drawing an actual comics story at Timely (now Marvel Comics) He and buddy Frank drew up 'Jack Frost', with Giacoia penciling and Carmine inking. They were young, and the art looked it. But they were published.

Carmine bounced around several publishers during the 40's, drawing Airboy and The Heap for Hillman, working for the low page rates of the Jack Binder shop (supplying Fawcett Comics), stopping briefly at Holyoke, then landing back at DC where he became a regular on the Golden Age Flash, Black Canary, Green Lantern and the Justice Society of America.

During the 50s, Carmine freelanced for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's company, Prize Comics, drawing Charlie Chan, showing the influence both Kirby and Milton Caniff had on the young artist. Back at DC, with the demise of most of the 40s heroes, Carmine drew westerns, mysteries, Science Fiction, anything that came down the pike. As his style kept evolving, he started to shed the Kirbyisms, and the gritty shading of Caniff, and develop a clean linear style of almost pure design.

Silver age artist

In 1956, Carmine walked into Julie Schwartz's office to drop off his latest job, a romance. Julie took the pages, and told Infantino he was going to be drawing super heroes again. Just like that, Julie was bringing back the Flash for DC's newest title, Showcase. The script would be by Robert Kanigher, and Carmine was in charge of finding the look for the new Science Fiction based Flash. He went home and drew a red and yellow uniform, striving to keep it as simple as possible. He used the theme of blinding speed as a motif for the lighting bolts and wings on the cowl and boots. He drew on his design abilities to create a new visual language to depict the Flash's speed, making the figure a red and yellow blur. It took a bit for Flash to catch on, going through four tryout issues of Showcase before gaining his own book (starting at #105, continuing the numbering of the old Flash title and causing new fans to think that somehow they'd missed 104 issues!).

Infantino continued to work for Schwartz in his other titles, most notable becoming the second artist to draw the strip Adam Strange after Mike Sekowsky. With his design sensibilities (he once said he tried to take all the 'drawing' out of his pages, but Murphy Anderson kept putting it back in) he soon made the strip his own.

In 1964, Julie Schwartz was handed the failing, faded Batman titles and asked to try to turn them around. The first guys he tapped for the job was scripter John Broome and Carmine Infantino. They jettisoned the sillier aspects that had crept into the series (Ace the Bathound, Bat-Mite, various dumb alien villains) and put Batman and Robin back to solving mysteries. Carmine used his more realistic art style to help made a clean break with the past. It was a sharp 'snap' that was heard around the fan world. The 'New Look' caused raging in the letters pages and the rest of fandom for years.

Other strips Infantino was doing at this time, included "The Space Museum", various SF stories for Schwartz, in addition to Batman, Elongated Man, Adam Strange and the Flash (plus covers for these books). Carmine had a work ethic, a goal of two fully penciled pages a day. That was remarkable at a time when most artists could turn out usually only one (unless you were Mike Sekowsky, or ‘King’ Jack Kirby, who were known for doing five pages a day without breaking a sweat).

Tenure as DC Comics' editorial director

In 1967, as it became obvious that books with Infantino covers seemed to be selling better than others, he was tasked with designing covers for the entire company. When DC was sold to Kinny National, Carmine was promoted to Editorial Director. He started by hiring new talent, and promoting artists to editorial positions.

Dick Giordano was hired away from Charlton Comics while Joe Orlando, Joe Kurbert and Mike Sekowsky became editors. New titles were started with work from new talents like Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil. In 1971, Infantino was made publisher.

Infantino's challenge was reversing the company's declining circulation. Complicating matters, the newly merged company owner, Warner Communications and distributor IDN had little faith in the company beyond the marketability of its characters and newsstand and grocery stores didn't want to handle a magazine with such low profit margins.

Infantino attempted a number of changes. They in included starting several new books in the late 1960s to early 1970s. They included new series like Bat Lash, the Secret Six, and characters like Deadman and The Creeper came upon the scene. In addition, older characters were re-vamped Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to mixed results. Sales were not there in the beginning, causing Infantino to cancel the books, some believe too early.

In 1971, Infantino scored a major coup in signing on the star artist Jack Kirby from Marvel Comics, after a dispute with partner Stan Lee led him to leave the company. Kirby had been privately developing new characters in his past years at Marvel, but had been reluctant to use them for that company. At DC, he was unleased. Beginning with Jimmy Olsen, Jack launched his Fourth World saga with the titles The New Gods, [Forever People, Mister Miracle which he intended to interest a new crowd of olders readers, the ones the Marvel had been so successful in courting.

Jack wanted to try new publishing formats such as hardcover comics in book stores and B&W publications on the racks. His intention was to be an idea man who would create new series, and assign other artists to carry them out. Kirby had moved to California, and would work from there, using West Coast artists and writers, escentialy creating a 'DC West'.

However, the more cautious Infantino was not open to new formats especially with continuing mediocre sales. The resulting conflict with his star led to The Fourth World titles had being prematurely cancelled before the project gained reader momentum. Infantino set about suggesting new projects for Kirby to do, to fulfill Kirby's 15 page per week contract. Kirby returned to Marvel when his contract ran out.

In an effort to raise revenue, Infantino raised prices from .15 to .25 cents. He also raised the page count by adding reprints and some new features. Marvel met the price increase, then dropped back to .20 cents, with DC stubbornly staying with .25. It was a sales disaster. Marvel flooded the racks with cheap reprint books in an effort to drive DC sales down even lower. Carmine matched them book for book and the company revenues suffered in the price war.

After working on the script for the Superman movie, Infantino managed to collaborate with Stan Lee for Superman vs. Spider-Man. Before deales on the book had been recorded, Infantino was let go by Warner, after being with the company since the 1940s. Infantino returned to freelance work.

Later career

He went to Warren, he did a long run of Star Wars for Marvel, Spider-Woman, Nova and others, and in the 1980's he returned to The Flash at DC. He was never put in an executive posistion at another comics company.

Today, Carmine Infantino is retired, doing some convention appearences and a few interviews. He recently published a bio, 'The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino' put out by Vanguard Press, with a cover collage of Infantino DC cover art by Carmine, designed by Arlen Schumer.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Carmine Infantino