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Biographies of the Stars

Carmine Infantino

Carmine Infantino was born May 24, 1925 in New York City. While still a teenager, Carmine would travel around the city, seeking comic book & comic strip artists. When he was 15, he met and befriended Charles Flanders, the artist on the Lone Ranger comic strip, and Flanders let the young would be artist watch him draw.

In 1942, Carmine went to work for Timely Comics (later Marvel) illustrating the Jack Frost feature. A couple of years later, he was contacted by Lil Abner artist Al capp to help with the comic strip, he had been recommended by a friend and Capp liked his work. But Carmine had to move to Boston to be close to Capp and the senior Infantino counseled his son to not move and finish his schooling instead. "If you're any good, they'll still want you when you graduate" he said and Carmine agreed.

While still in school, the young artist met Frank Giacoia, and a lifelong friendship resulted. Giacoia would become the inker most closely associated with Carmine throughout the forties to the sixties.

During this period, he worked for several publishers, including Charles Biro, and he wrote many scripts for Airboy and the Heap. He also worked for Quality Comics where he erased panel borders and doing some inking. While there he got to work on pages illustrated by comic art greats Lou Fine and Reed Crandall, though he never met the two because the artists would mail their work to the publisher. He also worked on the pages of Will Eisner. These three artists, along with Hal Foster, Milton Caniff and Alex Raymond who had the greatest influence on Carmine.

At 19, he enrolled in the Art Student's League, and then the Brooklyn Museum of Art. After he finished his studies, he and friend Frank went over to DC Comics and eventually both got jobs there. At about this same time, other future greats Alex Toth and Joe Kubert also landed at DC.

At DC he worked on the Johnny Quick feature, the Three Ghosts and Shining Knight, all inked by Giacoia. Then editor/publisher Sheldon Mayer put Carmine onto the Flash feature on he worked on this character for several years until the title folded. He also worked on Green Lantern, Black Canary, Johnny Thunder and several others.

In 1946 Infantino joined the National Cartoonist's Society where he met his idols Foster and Caniff. The latter would later offer his strip to the young Carmine, who was too busy with other work to accept!

In his twenties, Infantino went back to the Art Students League and while there was introduced to the great art of Edgar Degas, and carmine's art would later take a profound influence from the impressionist's figure studies.

Then in the fifties, public attacks on the comic industry caused the mass executions of comics publishers leaving just a small handful of publishers to work for. Infantino's output in this period was entirely for DC, doing romance, horror, crime and western stories. he also drew his very popular Rex the Wonder Dog series and the Detective Chimp.

Then in 1956, editor Julius Schwartz told Carmine he wanted to revive the Flash, albeit a slightly different one from the golden age character. carmine redesigned the costume and in Showcase Comics #4, the new Flash debuted, followed two issues later by Jack Kirby's "Challengers of the Unknown". These two books were phenomenally successful and they signaled the return and resurgence of comic book super heroes.

The Flash made four tryout appearances in Showcase Comics (#'s 4,8,13& 14) before he was awarded with his own title in February 1959 beginning with issue #105 which took off from the discontinued title issue #104. Carmine would illustrate this title for almost two decades.

During this period he also drew the acclaimed Adam Strange series in Strange Adventures, and the back-up feature Elongated Man which appeared in Detective Comics. He would revamp the Batman beginning with Detective Comics #327, and is universally recognized as helping to revitalize the Batman's sagging sales figures.

In 1967 he became DC's editor in chief and prompted the company to take several bold steps in innovative design. DC was a relatively homogenous comic company, preferring to maintain a "family" type atmosphere in it's comics, whereas Marvel was far more revolutionary in forward cultural movement.

One of the things he did was to hire (now) legendary artist Neal Adams, who helped to start a movement resulting in greater creator's rights throughout the industry.

Then in 1971, Carmine was appointed publisher, in addition to editor. This appointment in commonly acknowledged as the reason for DC regaining a top spot in the publishing business. In 1974 he became president of DC, leaving the company in 1976 over a dispute with corporate heads of the parent company, ending 30 years of association with DC.

He worked for Hanna-Barbera creating characters for a while, then he began teaching at the School of Visual Arts, which along with commercial artwork he did until just a few years ago.

Carmine made many contributions to the art of comics. His modern design, inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright together with his electric figurative drawing inspired by his interest in Degas' work made him extremely individualistic in style and content, and few have been able to emulate these qualities in the decades since.

In 1958 he was awarded the National Cartoonist's Society Award, and since has won many other awards for his great contributions to the comic field.

Carmine currently lives in New York City. A genius of the comic medium, his legacy will live on after many of us are gone.

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