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The Flash and Batgirl Co-Creator Carmine Infantino Passes Away At 87

Carmine Infantino, the legendary comic book creator who played an integral role in the American comic book business both as an artist and editor, passed away today. Regarded by many as one of the greatest pencillers the industry has ever known, he is perhaps most associated with his work in revitalizing the DC Comics character The Flash, a move that signaled a return of popularity for superheroes and ushered in what is fondly referred to even today as the Silver Age of American comics.Infantino was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1925. As a freshman in high school, he was hired by Harry Chesler, whose studio included members Jack Cole, Jack and Otto Binder, Mort Meskin and others. Infantino would go on to work for many publishers before arriving at DC Comics in 1947. His first published work for DC was a short story in which he and writer Robert Kanigher created the original Black Canary.

During the early 1950s, Infantino mostly worked on Western, mystery and science fiction comics for DC, as the popularity of superheroes had declined following the aftermath of the Senate hearings resulting from Frederic Wertham’s Seductin of the Innocent. Then, in 1956, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz would task Kanigher and Infantino with revitalizing superheroes by updating the Flash.

This new version of the character debuted in Showcase #4, with a new backstory, secret identity (Barry Allen instead of Jay Garrick) and groundbreaking design created by Infantino. The success of this debut led to the rebirth of superhero comics. Five years later, Infantino would illustrate the “Flash of Two Worlds,” a landmark story in the pages of Flash #123, marking the first meeting of the Silver and Golden Age era Flashes and, more significantly, introduced Earth Two and the concept of the Multiverse to DC Comics. The success of “Flash of Two Worlds” would lead to DC revamping many of it’s other Golden Age characters who’d been dormant for years.

The covers to Flash #123 and Showcase #4 remain two of the most iconic in comic book history

Infantino would go on to co-create other notable characters for DC, including Elongated Man, Deadman and of course Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in the pages of Detective Comics #359, a story titled “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!”

In 1967, Infantino was promoted to Art Director of DC Comics, and later Editorial Director, where his impact was immediate and profound. In his new role, he employed a strategy of hiring artists as editors, first bringing Charlton Comics artist Dick Giordano to DC, who would later become the publisher’s Executive Editor. Infantino also made artists Joe Orlando, Mike Sekowsky and Joe Kubert editors. Under Infantino’s stewardship, creators Neal Adams and Denny O’Neill were brought into the fold, and that duo would go on to create definitive reinterpretations of characters like Batman, Green Lantern and Green Arrow. In 1970, Infantino signed Jack Kirby to a contract with DC Comics, which led to the creation of Kirby’s enduringly popular Fourth World saga, as well as later creations including The Demon, Kamandi, and others. The following year, Infantino was promoted to publisher of DC Comics, a title he would hold until 1976 when he was replaced by Jenette Kahn.

Infantino returned to freelance work, which led to him drawing for other publishers like Marvel Comics, where he worked on the company’s monthly Star Wars and Spider-Woman series, among others. He would eventually return to DC and The Flash in 1981, where he was again made the regular artist for that series until its cancellation four years later. Infantino would go on to pencil other various projects before eventually becoming a teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he remained until his retirement.

Infantino’s work as an artist, editor, teacher and mentor spanned nearly six decades, and his contribution to the medium during that time is very arguably unmatched. As an artist, Infantino drew hundreds of stories in his career, and as an editor he brought creators under the auspices of DC Comics who would go on to change the publisher, and the industry, forever. His impact will be felt as long as this business and community endures.

DC’s top executives released these statements to the company’s The Source blog:

DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson: “The entire DC Entertainment family is saddened by the loss of Carmine Infantino. His contributions to the comics industry and to DC Comics in particular are immense and impossible to quantify. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans during this difficult time.”

DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee: “Carmine was a legend. The number of classic covers he created are innumerable. His influence, reach and impact is humbling and will always live on.”

DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio: “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.”

On behalf of everyone at ComicsAlliance, our thoughts and best wishes go out to Infantino’s family and friends.

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