It was jarring to me. I respected and loved the work of all of them. I also liked them all on a personal but individual basis. But when I saw what the comic book industry was doing to them, I think I liked it a little less. Those men all deserved better.
– Mark Evanier, commenting on the observation by Howard Chaykin that Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino and other DC artists “regarded each other with distaste, frequently bordering on genuine loathing.”
It’s stuff like this that brings home to me how screwed up the comics industry was for so many years. I understand on an intellectual level that things were bad, but hearing how it inspired jealousy and soured relationships puts it into an emotional context that I hadn’t felt before.
I’m not saying we have a utopia today, but creators do have more options if they want more than what they’re getting from work-for-hire. Creator-owned comics are not only more welcomed than ever by readers, but they’re also proving popular with people outside of comics, which can turn into real money. Again, I’m not saying we’ve reached the Promised Land yet, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve at least left Egypt.
I’m reading Glen Weldon‘s Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, and I’m still in the chapters on the Golden Age. What’s struck me was just how quickly Superman became a national phenomenon. Within a year of his first appearance in an anthology book (that he wouldn’t be on the cover of for another five issues after the first), there was a syndicated newspaper strip about him. According to Weldon, Time magazine called the character “the No. 1 juvenile vogue in the U.S.” Within two years, there was a radio show. Within three, Max Fleischer’s studio was making animated short films. And then there were all the dolls, games, puzzles, and coloring books. That was a stunning amount of success in a very short amount of time.
Awards | Graphic Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival has established the 9th Art Award for graphic fiction, which will be presented in August during the festival. Submissions are being accepted through July 31. [9th Art Award, via The Beat]
Creators | Howard Chaykin remembers Carmine Infantino. [The Los Angeles Review of Books]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his long-lived classic Maus, his thoughts on Israel, and being a New Yorker. [Haaretz]
Publishing | Image Comics provided the retail news and analysis website ICv2 with worldwide pre-order figures for 15 of its March titles, allowing for comparison with estimates of Diamond Comic Distributors sales to U.S. direct market stores. [ICv2.com]
Creators | Mark Waid pens a tribute to the late Carmine Infantino. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez distinguishes between autobiography and art in his new graphic novel, Marble Season, which takes on a 1960s suburban childhood not unlike his own. [Chicago Reader]
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. After an almost-uninterrupted string of U.S. conventions, from Emerald City Comicon and Fabletown & Beyond to WonderCon and MoCCA Arts Fest, eyes turn to Europe this weekend for the Torino Comics festival.
Meanwhile, our contributors select their picks for the best comics going on sale Wednesday, including Batman: Li’l Gotham #1, Relish and The Flash Chronicles, Vol. 4.
As part of a career in superhero comics that reached back to their beginnings, Carmine Infantino was one of the pillars of the Silver Age, and not just because he was a big part of its formative moment. His sleek redesign of the Flash became the avatar for DC Comics’ resurgent superhero line, and his unique style helped define not just the Scarlet Speedster’s world, but eventually all of the company’s titles.
One of the most symbolic moments of Superman is when he changes from his guise as Clark Kent to become the Man of Steel. The idea that the wearing of a costume imbues some kind of unquantifiable power is a key part of what makes superhero comics work; otherwise, they’d just be adventurers and action heroes.
But speaking of change, changes in superhero costumes have become as much a part of the comics as the heroes themselves. From Superman’s early days with his golden emblem to the modern “S” today and on through to other years (including Batman’s countless wardrobe changes), the design of a superhero isn’t static and a redesign has proved, many times, to be just the thing to make a character work.
In this week’s “Six by 6,” I pinpoint six of the most dynamic and powerful redesigns in superhero comics. Redesigns that saved a character from obscurity, put them in a new light or simply simplified what was already there.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we take a look at the comics, books and other things the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately. We kick off the new year with Brian Cronin from Comics Should Be Good! as our special guest. In addition to running our sister blog, Brian is also an author, having written two books on comics trivia. He also runs the blog Urban Legends Revealed, where he talks about sports and entertainment urban legends.
To see what Brian and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Mystery In Space #71 (1961), page 6. Carmine Infantino.
Carmine Infantino holds a rather odd position in the comic book medium’s critical consciousness. Basically, he gets talked about for all the wrong reasons. I can’t really argue that he’s under-recognized; among a readership who know the guy that first drew the yellow circle around Batman’s chest-bat but haven’t heard of Herriman he’s probably over-recognized. The reason Infantino’s legacy has lived on is that he more than perhaps any other artist in comics history was in the right place at the right time. Any one of the consummately professional journeyman cartoonists DC employed in 1956 could have been tapped to give reviving the superhero idiom a shot, but it was Infantino who stepped into that void, and it was his art that superheroes made their first steps toward industry domination on the back of.
But while that’s a nice story, and while Infantino’s art was certainly a wonderful match for the high-speed pastorals DC churned out in the early Silver Age, it’s not what makes him special. If Jack Kirby was the superhero era’s great storyteller, Infantino was its great formalist, batting out page after page of pabulum stories that nonetheless managed to make a stunningly thorough exploration of layout, space, shape, and pacing. Infantino never worked on stories that transcend their time in the same way that Kirby and Ditko’s comics of the same time do; his transcendence isn’t in the reading of his work but the studying of it, the lessons about pure craft they hold.