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Beware the Ides! or, Et tu Quarter Bin? (In praise of the Late Infantino!)


(Soundtrack: Everclear– World of Noise)


Inspired by my own Infantino-boosterism yesterday, I’ve been Googling around, looking for other opinions on the man’s work… I was particularly hoping to find some material on the “Trial of the Flash” stories he did with Cary Bates in the early eighties… Who else was doing twenty-five issue storylines at that time? Just Dave Sim… But no dice–and that makes me think I oughtta do something to rectify the situation! I think it’s a landmark series. It has its corny aspects, I’ll grant you, but this was an unbelievably stark nightmare to put a bright red superhero through… When you think about it, from the death of Iris in #275 to the end (#350), The Flash is almost as unrelentingly cruel in its machinations against the protagonist as The Passion of the Christ (I’m tellin’ ya, he loses everything here: two wives, his reputation, his identity, even his face, after the plastic surgery!)–however, unlike in Gibson’s film, we do get a resurrection (Iris’) at the end, and it feels completely earned… I wonder if Morrison had any of this in mind when he was writing Animal Man? I think it’s worth investigating!


Anyway, here’s what I found on Infantino–almost all of it deals with the early work and the “executive years”, unfortunately:

1. A decent interview from 1998, at TwoMorrows… Interesting stuff on DC editorial changes in the late sixties, discussion of what went wrong (commercially) with Ditko’s Hawk and Dove, Kirby’s New Gods, O’Neil/Adams’ GL/GA, etc.; the advent of the “artist/editor” (notably Joe Orlando); the puzzling lack of interest in Nick Cardy’s great Silver Age work; DC’s determination at this time to “grow up” without copying the Marvel formula…

2. “Carmine Infantino, Linchpin of DC’s Silver Age”–A career overview at The Quarter Bin… This quotation seems to voice the consensus opinion on the later stuff:

He even returned to do work for DC on such Infantino-connected properties as the Flash, though during his return he used the same modified and angular style typical of his Marvel work. During the years when he hadn’t had the time to dabble in art himself, his feel for the work changed somewhat, a change very clear to an observer who compares his early DC Silver Age pieces to work after 1976.

What’s wrong with change? And this change in particular? I think the new “angular” look is fantastic. I’ve never seen anything else like it–I can look at Infantino’s Spider-Womans, Daring New Adventures of Supergirl and new model Flash for hours! Does anyone else agree with me?


3. He’s ranked number #65 on the Atlas Top 100 Artists of American Comic Books

Comicdom may have lost some of Carmine Infantino’s best years. An artistic dynamo in the 50’s and early 60’s, Carmine eventually backed into the role of publisher at DC during some of its most artistically satisfying years. There was a cost, however. His return to the drawing board in the late 70’s (after a split with DC) was less than inspiring. Missing was much of what made his earlier work so impressive: sharply designed covers (a job he handled for almost the entire DC line while he was Art Director), nimble drawing, well spotted blacks, and an excellent creative eye. With a hand in the creation or early adventures of characters such as the Flash, Adam Strange, Deadman and many others, Carmine is a major figure in the foundation of modern comics.

Again–I beg to differ!


4. An excerpt from the interview with Gary Groth in TCJ #191… It dwells on Infantino’s Golden Age apprenticeship and the work conditions at the time. This is precisely the kind of material that I couldn’t care less about, and it’s no surprise that it was torn from the pages of the “magazine of news and criticism”… I’ll never understand why people want to read about artists struggling to hone their craft. I mean, I’m involved in this process right now, and I know damn well that it isn’t interesting to anyone but me! Save it for the water cooler for Christ’s sake! Or is that the problem? Writers and artists don’t have a watercooler to gather ’round, so they force their banal shop talk upon their audience. If you like this kind of thing, please write to me and explain the appeal!

5. This book looks fairly interesting: The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino, with an afterward by Jim Steranko…


Okay, maybe it’s time to read some Flash comics!


Good afternoon friends!
Dave

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3 comments

  1. I dig both early and late Infantino, and I don’t see his later work as a weakening at all.

    So that’s two of us. — Bruce

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