On April 4, 2013 legendary comic book artist Carmine Infantino passed away at the age of 87. A few weeks later Calvary received a notice Mr. Infantino had made a six figure bequest to the Hospital in his will. Known in the industry as “the man who saved Batman”, his epic career spanned five decades.
He was born and bred in Brooklyn – attending Public Schools 75 and 85. Then for high school, he commuted to the Manhattan School of Industrial Arts (now known as the High School of Art and Design). His childhood dream was to be an architect, but as was the case for many kids during the Depression, family resources were not sufficient to make that dream come true. Still, Carmine loved drawing and in his freshman year of high school landed a part-time job working for Harry A. Chesler, a comic book “packager”. Chesler developed new comics for publishers looking to launch a series in the decade of 1930’s known as the Golden Age of comic books.
Carmine began his career as a penciler, the artist who rst sketches the characters and illustrates the action in each panel. Later an inker completes the images by coloring in the penciler shapes and lines. In the 1950’s Carmine went to art school to rethink and re ne his techniques. Under the tutelage of Jack Potter at the School of Visual Arts Carmine developed what became his signature style: a minimalist mid-century modernism; perhaps the influence and expression of his architectural interests. In any event, this metamorphosis marked a maturity in his work that established his reputation as innovative comic book artist.
After working freelance for a number of years, Carmine’s big break came when DC Comics editor, Julius Schwartz asked him to reinvent the Flash character. Carmine’s makeover depicted the superhero in a sleek red uniform with yellow trim. He minimized the background details which resulted in the characters practically popping off the page. Using blurs of color to simulate speed, he created an urgency and motion that captivated readers and ushered in the period historians now refer to as the Silver Age of comics (approximately 1955-1970).
In 1964, when Batman was suffering a similar fate as the former Flash ( hovering dangerously close to extinction) DC Comics again turned to Mr. Infantino asking him to rescue the caped crusader. The retooled debonair Batman and his sidekick Robin were an instant success even inspiring an ABC television series featuring the “Dynamic Duo” starring Adam West, which ran from 1966 -1968 and still airs on cable channels today.
Mr. Infantino’s talents were not limited to the arts. While at DC Comics he rose through the ranks of management serving first as editorial director and ultimately publisher. Under his leadership, DC Comics collaborated with Marvel for a history making company crossover publication, Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man. He was also a script consultant for the plots of Superman: The Movie and Superman II.
When he left DC Comics in 1976 he returned to freelancing. Many of the superheroes are as popular today as they were when Carmine was drawing them: Green Lantern, Superman, Batgirl, Captain America, Spider-Woman, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man to name a few! Throughout his career, Carmine’s talent was recognized with numerous professional awards; a sample includes Best Comic Book, Best Artist, Best Story, Best Issue, Best Full-Length Story and Best New Strip. He received the prestigious “Julie Award” in 2002 for a lifetime of achievement in a variety of media. There are two books on his life and career;The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino and Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher and Provocateur.
In a statement released by DC Comics, Co-Publisher Dan DiDio said, “There are few people in this world that have had as much of an impact on the industry as Carmine. 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.” Calvary feels the same way.