Publisher, editor, creator and artist -- no matter the position the late, great Carmine Infantino held, he was profoundly influential in it.
He's best known for creating a treasure trove of DC characters, including the Barry Allen version of the Flash, Elongated Man, Deadman and Batgirl, and working on a who's who of other DC icons, but his impact on the comic book industry was much larger than that.
Infantino began working in comics as a teenager during the Golden Age of comics in the early '40s, where he did a little bit of everything but notably illustrated a couple stories of Jay Garrick's, the original Flash, beginning his long association with the character. He worked in a variety of genres until he was recruited by DC to revive their superhero characters. He began, of course, with the new Flash, who he co-created with Robert Kanigher. He worked on an incredible number of titles throughout the '50s and '60s, and eventually became DC's art director and then the editorial director in 1967. In that position he recruited several now-legendary creators, including luring Jack Kirby to DC for the first time in the Silver Age to create his line of Fourth World comics.
Infantino was promoted to publisher in 1971, where he stayed for five years, before returning to his roots, drawing comics. He worked a bit for Marvel, including on Spider-Woman's first series, but went back to DC for—among other projects—a lengthy run on The Flash. He continued to draw into the 90s before a well-earned retirement, and sadly passed away in 2013.
Today, May 24, would have been his 92nd birthday, and to celebrate we've gathered 15 of his most iconic and striking covers from his long and storied career. Just like for Gil Kane last month, they're in no particular order, aiming more to capture the breadth of his body of work.
Though, admittedly, I did include a lot of Flash.
Enjoy the awesome artwork, and please let us know your favorite stories and covers that Infantino illustrated in the comments below.
ALL-STAR COMICS #40
Let's start with the earliest cover on the list. This cover is for a Golden Age story starring the Justice Society as they tackled the problem of kid gangs. The cover is pretty hilarious, and is an early example of the sense of humor that Infantino infused into a lot of his work. Plus, he draws the heck out of the Justice Society, though they probably wouldn't approve of me using that language.
Of course this cover—the debut of Barry Allen, the second man to go by the name of the Flash—would be on this list! With this cover, not only did Infantino completely revive the Flash iconography, he also helped to kickstart the Silver Age of comics, as many comics historians mark this issue as the beginning of that creatively booming new era. And speaking of creativity, it's evident right from the very first cover that Infantino was going to be doing some very interesting visual experiments in order to portray the Scarlet Speedster's speed. Speaking of which …
THE FLASH #110
One of the reasons that Infantino's work was so perfectly suited to the Flash was because of how innovative he was at depicting movement. Here we have three prime examples, with the spinning arm, speed lines raying out and the wave twisting away. It's incredibly difficult to make such a movement-based character work in a static medium like comics, but Infantino perfected a lot of the visual language that made it possible.
DETECTIVE COMICS #332
There were a couple Infantino covers included in my Detective Comics cover list, but there were several more from him I considered. This is one of my favorites of his because of his effective use of sequential story telling on the cover. You used to see paneled covers a lot more than you do now, but even then they usually weren't effective. Here though, Infantino shows how to do it, creating a striking, coherent image, while also telling an immediately understandable story, even if you don't read a word.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #49
Sure, Carmine Infatino drew other covers for The Brave and the Bold, featuring all sorts of superhero team-ups — my favorites being the Batman/Flash and Aquaman/Atom covers he did—but none of those could compare to the primal delight that is seeing a fully uniformed gorilla slide successfully into what I think is third base. This is comics silliness at its best, and Infantino nails it with just the right amount of self-awareness to make you laugh and definitely crack open the book.
THE FLASH #123
Not only is this one of the most famous Flash covers, its also one of the most recognizable covers in DC history. It is not only is a simple and effective bit of design work, it also was the introduction of the concept of the multiverse—an idea so quintessentially DC Comics that it's hard to believe it wasn't always there. This is the first meeting of the Flashes of Earth 1 and Earth 2, it permanently opened the door to the infinite in superhero comics.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #56
I'm always down for anything that gives Wildcat more face time, but why the respective teams' Green Lanterns and Flashes aren't facing off on this cover is eternally baffling to me. Nevertheless, this is a great and historic cover, but not too historic, because the two teams had met several times before, this was just one of their many annual meet-ups. But it's still a really fun cover!
STRANGE ADVENTURES #205
The second-best red spandex-clad creation of Carmine Infantino gets one of his best covers! The undead acrobat known as Deadman is captured mid-flight, but is he in the middle of his trapeze routine or using his phantom powers of flight? There's an appropriately creepy ambiguity to the image, and to Deadman's face. The movement of the page is also beautifully framed by the parallel tent pole, gun barrel and trapeze bar.
THE FLASH #139
The debut of the Flash's nemesis, Reverse Flash! This one seems like kind of a play on the "Flash of Two Worlds" cover mentioned earlier, but it's still unique enough to warrant a spot. It's framed really interestingly using the white, blue, green and purple quadrants and, together with the Flashes, uses every color in the rainbow and somehow pulls it off.
Infantino spent a comparatively short time at Marvel, but lucky for both him and us that he got the chance to draw the most under-rated dup in all of comics: Beast and Wonder Man. An actor-turned-energy-being and a furry blue mad scientist are the coolest best friends ever, and no can ever tell me otherwise. I know that doesn't tell you a lot about this cover, but I just really want these two together again.
RED TORNADO #2
One of Infantino's later projects at DC was this Red Tornado miniseries with writer Kurt Busiek. It was only four issues, but this was the best cover of the run. It's striking and gruesome, but is just cartoonish enough to avoid being disturbing, showing how good Infantino is at controlling mood. Also, add Red Tornado to the list of characters that don't get enough time in the spotlight.
STAR WARS #30
Infantino did a fair amount of work on the original Star Wars comic book run, including several covers. There are quite a few good ones (check out issues 14 and 15 if you've got a second to Google), but this cover gives off the most classically Star Wars vibe. The original comics were kind of all over the place tonally, but this cover has none of that weirdness that many of the others do. Just a well-shot, dynamic action scene that would look right at home in the movies.
THE FLASH #155
I promise this is the last The Flash cover on the list! But I think it's my favorite of the bunch. Flash has the most fun villains in comics, and you really get to see that in this cover. Each character is not only uniquely garish, they each have their own body language, showing Infantino's talent for infusing personality into his figures.
SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND LOIS LANE #89
I've mentioned Infantino's eye for humor a few times now, but I think this might be one of his funniest. He just absolutely nails the facial expressions. Bruce Wayne is just insanely pleased with himself in a way that makes this seem brutally personal, and Superman looks like he's been kicked in the nuts with a Kryptonite-toed boot. Even the minister looks like he's trying not to laugh! The issue is definitely a product of its time, but it shows how Infantino could take a goofy idea like "Bruce Wayne swoops Superman" and make it into something clever. Note: We've had a couple people saying this is a Neal Adams cover, but all sources we can find say Infantino did pencils with Adams on inks. Older comics can be notoriously hard to track down proper credits for, however, so if you have a reliable source saying its Adams, let us know in the comments!
Hey, I said no more The Flash covers, not no more covers with the Flash on them. How could this not be included, it's the race to end all races! Until they raced two more times in issues of The Flash and World's Finest, also with great covers by Carmine Infantino! I like this one the best because of the way space seems to be collapsing between them they're moving so fast. And also how badly Batman wants Superman to lose. He just wants Lois for himself.