R.I.P. Comic Book Legend Carmine Infantino

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The news buzzed around the interwebs throughout Thursday afternoon, and eventually it seemed very likely that the great Carmine Infantino had indeed passed on. I was a huge fan of Carmine’s work while growing up. The 1980s was his true golden age as an artist. He worked hard to develop his craft – even going back to school in mid-life. We both studied (at different times) with the very influential Jack Potter at New York’s The School of Visual Arts – where Carmine was later a teacher. Ah, but his comics in the late 70s and 1980s… He returned to the character he co-created The (‘Silver-Age’) Flash and illustrated tons of other comics in his unique energetic style.  His work on Spider-Woman and Star Wars were great favorites. I started buying Nova because Carmine was drawing it. It was always a treat when he’d turn in an issue of Avengers, Howard the Duck or Iron Man. Although his style was a bit buried under the inks, his adaptation of the movie The Deep was a comic I read many many times. Fred Hembeck was largely influential in my appreciation of the peculiarities of Carmine’s work – the pointing hands attached to captions, distant futuristic skylines…

Most of all I will remember Carmine as the World’s Greatest Gorilla Artist. The one time I got to meet him – at New York Comic Con a few years ago – I told him this. He was not too bemused by this to not sign a copy of his then-recent book from Vanguard for me… including a little ape-head sketch. I very much wanted to get to meet him again and talk more. As near as I can tell Carmine’s last major comic book work was a Danger Trail four issue series for DC Comics in 1993 – where he returned to characters he co-created over 40-year previously. The original Danger Trail comics from the early 1950s stand out as one of the better and most memorable works from DC Comics in that strange era. Carmine was the last – hell, the only – maverick publisher (or whatever his job title was) at DC Comics. The main reason that company ever put out anything that anyone could possibly still care about. Just try to imagine DC Comics without him there at that time, and all that has followed on since. If you’ve got the time, spend some of it with this interview with Joe Orlando, where he talks a bit about those heady days at DC, staying up until 10 at night with Carmine to make the best issue of Angel and The Ape ever; and, the Comics Journal interview between Carmine and Gary Groth from 1996. Right now… enjoy some of the greatest hits from The World’s Greatest Gorilla Artist!

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