An Interview With Carmine Infantino - From Penciller to Publisher and Everywhere In Between

Written by Bryan Stroud

Carmine Infantino sitting at his desk.

Carmine Infantino sitting at his desk.

Carmine Michael Infantino (born on May 24, 1925) was an American comics artist and editor who was a major force in shaping the face of DC Comics through the Silver Age. In his early career as an artist, Carmine would freelance for any company that would have him, including Timely, Prize Comics, Hillman Periodicals, and Fawcett. In 1956, DC Comics editor Julie Schwartz would assign Infantino to help revamp the DC line of superheroes. By 1966, Carmine was in charge of the cover design for the entire DC line of books. From there, he rose to Art Director, and eventually Publisher of DC Comics in 1971. In his later career, he would go on to work for Marvel as well - providing art for Daredevil, Nova, and Star Wars, among others. Carmine Infantino passed away on April 4, 2013 at the age of 87.

It's funny the things you remember.  As my journey interviewing my Silver Age heroes was getting up some steam, I somehow recalled a snippet from my copy of "The Deadman Collection" (a generous gift from my life-long best friend) wherein Nicola Cuti wrote a segment - ironically titled "Behind the Scenes: Carmine Infantino."  Here is how it begins: 

 "When I called Carmine Infantino to find out his views on his part in the creation of DEADMAN, he apologized and told me that it was a long-standing policy of his not to give interviews."

Somehow that stuck in my mind, so when it was suggested that I reach out to Carmine, I thought it was a doomed proposition from the start.  Having had a little recent success, though, I reasoned that I had little to lose. And so armed with his phone number, (and after practicing a couple of times with my long-suffering bride), I called him up.  To my surprise and delight, he agreed to the interview!  After it was completed I figured I'd officially hit the peak and it would be all downhill from here.  Fortunately I was very wrong, but when you get to speak to the man who ushered in the Silver Age of DC Comics and did so much more important work along the way (and, not content with that, moved up the ranks to art director and ultimately publisher of DC Comics) - well, it's pretty special, to say the least.

All-Star Comics #40. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

The Brave and the Bold #49. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Detective Comics #332. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

This Interview took place on May 8, 2007.

Bryan Stroud:  Your contributions to the Silver Age are impressive.  The “Flash of Two Worlds” brought the Golden Age Flash to a new generation and the concept snowballed from there.  You brought Batman back from the edge and of course you ushered it all in by designing and drawing the reintroduced Flash, in Showcase #4.  Was there a sense that something new and exciting was brewing with the revival of the super hero?

Carmine Infantino:  I was not involved in that.  That was an office policy.  They had meetings every month.  Irwin Donenfeld was in charge at that time and he had a meeting with all the editors involved and they’d go around the table and decide what they wanted to do with Showcase.  And then someone suggested The Flash. No, no, I’m sorry, superheroes - someone suggested superheroes and most of them turned it down, but Irwin insisted on it - and then he also insisted on Julie (Schwartz) doing it. Okay, and then I got a call the next day, I believe, and Julie wanted me in the office, wanted to see me and I was on The Flash, like it or not.

Stroud:  So you weren’t necessarily all that excited about it?

CI:  No, I was not.  I didn’t like the idea of doing any more superheroes.  I’d done The Flash earlier, you remember? 

Stroud:  Many great inkers have gone over your pencils, to include Joe Kubert, Murphy Anderson and Joe Giella.  Who did you prefer to have inking you?

CI:  Right.  Frank Giacoia.  He was my favorite.  We went to school together, the School of Industrial Arts and we became close friends and he started out as the penciller.  I was the inker.  I don’t know what happened, but somehow we got reversed later.  We went up to Joe Simon’s and showed our work at Marvel.  It was called Timely Comics in those days, and he offers us both a job, and Frank decided to take it.  We’re both 16 or 17 at the time, and when I got home and told my folks, they said, “Oh, no.  You’re going to finish school first, before you do anything else.”  So my father said, “If they want you now, they’ll want you later.”  And he was right.  I’m glad I hung onto school.  Frank didn’t.  Frank went right on in and went to work there. 

Stroud:  It sounds like your folks were wise. 

CI:  I think so.  Actually, we needed the money at the time, too, but my father could care less.  Very forceful, but he did what he felt was right.  And he was right.  Education is the key. 

Stroud:  100% correct.  Can’t fault him in any way.

CI:  No sir.

Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson - Joker Poster Illustration 1966

Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson - Penguin Poster 1966

Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson - Riddler Poster 1966

Stroud:  What is it like to interpret a script and lay it down in pencil? 

CI:  Oh.  Well the way we worked, Schwartz and I, was very different.  I would create covers, and then he would write stories around them.  It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Stroud:  Yeah, it sounds exactly backward.

CI:  Yeah, but let me explain something.  I would do one thing…remember the Trickster?

Stroud:  Yeah.

CI:  He’s running in mid-air, right? 

Stroud:  Right.

CIFlash came to a stop on the cliff behind him.

Stroud:  Right.

CI:  Well, that’s a cliff-hanger.  You want to see what the hell’s going on with it.  And that’s how it worked.  So I’d create these covers…you look back at all the covers; they all have that kind of theme somehow on them.  They’re all cliff-hangers in one way or another, and they’re very effective. 

Stroud:  Yeah, apparently so.  I read something somewhere, I don’t know if it’s true, that you were trying to stump Gardner Fox by coming up with the “Flash of Two Worlds” cover.

CI:  That was Julie, not Fox. Yeah, because I’d do a cover, and dammit, they’d write the story around it, so I was getting very upset by this, so I said, “I’ll fix you.”  I did a cover with some guy in the foreground and two Flashes running up, he’s saying, “Help!” and they’re both saying, “I’m coming!”  So I put it on his desk and I said, “Here. Solve this!” and I walked out. By the time I got home my phone rang. He said, “We got it solved. I went through hell.” I couldn’t believe it. It was a great story, a terrific story. 

The 1966 Joker, Penguin & Riddler posters, colored.

Batman by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  Oh, yeah, and it started something big. 

CI:  Yeah, it was terrific.  Julie was very sharp in that area.  I always give him lots of credit. 

Stroud:  As I understand it, you both had a pretty strong sci-fi background as well.

CI:  His was more so because he did the magazines.  He represented Ray Bradbury, did you know that?  He was the agent for Ray, and they were close friends, and so it was Julie’s background, actually, and when we did the Adam Strange, he was home.  He was happy again.  It was his bailiwick, you know?

Stroud:  Back in his element. 

CI:  Yeah, he loved doing that. 

Stroud:  What other pencillers do you like? 

CI:  Inkers or pencillers? 

Stroud:  Pencillers.

CIJoe Kubert was terrific.  Alex Toth was unbelievable, and my friend, Nick Cardy, was one of the best, the very best.  There was Irv Novick; a wonderful artist.  I hope I didn’t miss anybody.  There were so many of them. 

Stroud:  How many people were actually on staff at DC?  It seems like everybody was freelancing.

CI:  Oh, no, no.  The only ones on staff were the production people.

Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella original cover art for The Flash #117.

Carmine Infantino in 1972.

Carmine Infantino in 1972.

The Flash #123. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  Ah, so the Jack Adler’s…

CI:  Yeah, and of course the editors, the four, five, six editors they had.  That’s all on staff.  Everybody else was freelancers.  Writers, artists, pencillers, inkers, letterers, everything.  Even the colorists.  Yeah, so that’s how the thing worked.  All lived by the check every week, not knowing if we’re going to work the rest of the week. 

Stroud:  That was something Joe Giella was telling me…

CI:  It was very tough, very tough.

Stroud:  He said you just had to hustle all the time and he said one of the things he loved about Julie was every week he had a check for him and that made all the difference.

CI:  That’s true.  I had no control over the inking, by the way.  He’d put Joe on, or he’d put Murphy on, it was under his control.  I had nothing to do with that at all.  Some were good, some I wasn’t happy with.        

Stroud:  Any opinion about the full script vs. the Marvel method?

CI:  Uh, we tried both ways at DC, and I think the full script…I liked it, but the other way was effective, too.  It wasn’t too bad.  It was Joe Orlando who preferred to work that way.  I had hired him as an editor, remember?  And Joe liked to work that way.  He did it with (Sergio) AragonesAragones had these great little drawings as he wrote a story and it worked very well.  They did some beautiful stories together.  Some horror stories, and then the Western…Bat Lash!  (Note:  Bat Lash ran for 7 issues in ’68 and ’69.)

Stroud:  You created that character did you not?

CI:  No.  Jerry Mayer created the character.  But what happened, Nicky called me and said, “Carmine, I just did the first issue.  I don’t think it’s good, but take a look at it.”  So I looked at it and he was right, it was so bland.  So I tried to re-write it over the drawing…over what was written before.  It was very difficult.  We managed to fix it.  I plotted all of them from there on out.  It was one of my favorites.  But what happened, I gotta be honest, what happened, Joey Orlando, he didn’t give them to Aragones to lay out.  He included things in his own thinking there.  Then, when the drawing was done, he gave it to O’Neill, who dialogued it.  It was a good fit and it worked very well all the way around, I thought. It didn’t sell. (Chuckle.)  It sold beautifully in Europe.  It went like crazy in Europe. 

Stroud:  Huh.  Just couldn’t do it stateside, huh?

CI:  No, the Western didn’t work there. 

The Flash #110. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

The Flash #129. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Justice League of America #56. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  You’d think there’d be more of a market for that. 

CI:  I know.  We were worried.  We wanted that, badly.  But we did that with Plop, too.  That, too, we tried, you know? 

Stroud:  Plop kind of flopped.

CI:  It did flop.  It didn’t work at all.  But you gotta keep trying things.  You can’t just sit back on your hands.  You’ve got to keep working…everything.  You try, fail and you try again.      

Stroud:  How did you come up with the “Infantino pointing hands” on text boxes?  They’re a true original.

CI:  Oh, I have no idea.  I can tell you why.  As a kid I used to look at these big blocks of copy, and, remember the splash pages?  I would never read them.  I said to myself, if I didn’t read them, how many of the kids are reading them now?  So what if I just break them up into separate little groups and we use the hand to drag them in?  And it seemed to work very effectively.

Stroud:  Oh, yeah.  It got your attention, especially when you’d show one in a “stop” position. 

CI:  Yeah, but they’d read it and that’s the point.  It was very important, so I think that premise worked. 

Stroud:  So you were kind of doing Gaspar (Saladino) a little bit of a favor, there.

CI:  Yeah, pretty much.  He’s very good, he’s a wonderful letterer.  I think one of the best.  But they do everything electronically now, don’t they?

Stroud:  As I understand, it’s almost all done by computer now.  That was one thing Joe Kubert told me was the biggest difference when he did “The Prophecy,” was having everything done on the PC.

CI:  Right.  Does it look any better?

Stroud:  I can’t really tell, but I don’t have an artist’s eye.

CI:  I haven’t really seen any of the latest work, so I really can’t cast a judgment on it.  It must be effective though, if they’re using it.  Both companies, right?  It must be cheaper, too. 

Stroud:  No doubt.

CI:  I’m sure that’s the main reason. 

Lois Lane #89. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Carmine Infantino in 1958.

Carmine Infantino in 1958.

The Flash #155. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  Yeah, it’s all about cost cutting.  You got all the way up to publisher at DC, so you know all about the process.   

CI:  Oh yeah, oh yeah, and the headaches of answering upstairs, you know?  Every buck you spend.  It was, “Why?  What for?  Where?”  Its part of the job, you know? 

Stroud:  That had to get old.  I bet it was easier to meet a deadline.

CI:  For me, you mean?  ‘Cause I’d lean on all the editors.  Some were good, but Julie was always on time.  He was great.  Julie and Murray Boltinoff were always on time.  And Kubert, I had to push him a little bit, but he got on time.  They were all pretty good.  Murray, every one of them were fairly good.  Everybody got on the stick and we all worked together, and it worked pretty nicely.  We had a great group going there.

Stroud:  Oh yeah, and the quality shows after all these years.

CI:  Yeah, you remember that?  We had some great artists.  Look at Neal (Adams).  My God, he was working on Jerry Lewis in the bullpen when I took over there and I went by his desk, “What the hell are you doing on that stuff?”  “That’s what they gave me.”  And then we changed that rapidly.

Stroud:  His talent needed to be used elsewhere.

CI:  Oh, absolutely, it was a joke to leave him there.  It was ridiculous, but he became quite a star there on Batman, on House of Mystery.  The only problem we had with Neal, he wanted to do his own color and I wouldn’t let him, and I insisted on laying him out, and then we’d fight about that, and then eventually he left; went to Marvel and then Stan Lee called me up one day and said, “Listen, let me ask you a question:  How come you got better colors out of Neal than what I’m getting?”  “Think about it for a moment, Stan.”  “Oh, my God.”

Stroud:  Well, that’s a feather in your cap.

CI:  Yeah.  Of course I enjoyed the writing, too.  I did some Wonder Woman.  I did, what do you call it?  Plotting.  I never did dialogue.  Only plotting.  The Wonder Woman series, you remember that series with Mike Sekowsky and Denny O’Neil?

Stroud:  Oh, I sure do, that was about the time she lost her powers. 

CI:  Yeah, the four-part series, remember that one?  When she leaves the island, comes home and wants to be a woman, not a Wonder Woman.

Stroud:  That was quite a different thing to do, to turn a superhero non-super.

CI:  Yeah, but it worked like hell, the four stories, the four books they went through the roof, the sales.  And then I worked on Deadman when Arnold (Drake) left, and somebody had to write #2, #3 and #4, and I needed somebody to dialogue it, so I had Jack Miller do those.  I plotted those, but then Neal asked me…he wanted to do it.  He wanted to write it and draw it, and that was a big mistake, I think. 

Stroud:  Really?

CI:  The book died under him. 

Strange Adventures #205. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Carmine Infantino in 2008.

Carmine Infantino in 2008.

Superman #199. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  Oh, that’s true.  I didn’t think about that.  Do you think he took it in a different direction than Arnold would have?

CI:  Yes, absolutely.  When he got back Arnold was very upset by that.  I didn’t like it either after I started reading it I said, “What the hell is going on?”  Of course after a point I watched the numbers go down, you know?  We had put that thing up to 57, 58% of sales and we had printed up to 300,000 copies, and all of a sudden the numbers are diving from 58 every month and then down to 55, 53, 52, 48, and you couldn’t read them.  His writing was bad.  I made no bones about it.  I told him.  Now I’ll tell you an interesting story there.  He had a big fan.  Some guy who worshipped Neal.  And he came to me one day, this was a few years ago, and he said, “You know why Deadman failed?  You blew it.”  I said, “Well, tell me what I did wrong.”  He said, “Well, we found out that over 400,000 copies were stolen of the Deadman book.”  I said, “Uh-huh.  That’s very interesting, because we only printed 275 to 300,000.”  So you get all kinds of theories.

Stroud:  Yeah, there’s always a conspiracy nut somewhere.

CI:  Always, always.  And Neal always felt he was a great writer, and I didn’t think he was.  That war went on, too.  But that’s something else.  That’s a whole different ballgame, but he’s a talented artist.  You can’t take that away from him.  Great talent. 

Stroud:  He’s got quite a following.

CI:  Yes, deservedly so. I don’t think he does comics much any more.  I think he’s doing mostly advertising and those storyboards for TV or movies.  I believe he does that in California.  So apparently he’s very fruitful.  I give him credit; he’s done well for himself.               

Stroud:  How much direction did you take from the scripter? 

CI:  From Julie, you mean?  Julie, Julie, his scripts were heavily edited, by the way.  Heavily edited, I mean very heavily edited.  He had a heavy hand on the stuff.  And I’m talking every script he did, but the end results you saw.  He usually had a pattern to his stuff.  He’d set the villain up immediately, then he’d pitch in the hero, they’d fight.  The hero was in a battle or two and then work toward the end.  That was Julie’s premise and he was effective as hell with that.  I had a lot of fun with the stuff.  My favorite stuff though was Elongated Man and Detective Chimp.  Go figure that one out.  You wanna know why?  I’ll tell you why.  Julie hated me inking.  Literally hated it.  And so the only way I could get to ink, I had to be quick if they had something to ink, so he’d give me Elongated Man, the back features (like Detective Chimp) but never a main feature, but it was like I was saying, it just didn’t carry the volume.  There was nothing you could do about it.  But the penciling, he’s crazy about.

Stroud:  And obviously so with all your work on Mystery in Space and Flash…

CI:  I didn’t start that thing, you know.  Mike Sekowsky did it.  I was in Korea at the time, but he started it.  When I came back, Julie said “It’s your book.”  I said, “Well, what about Mike?”  “No,” he said “he understood it was going to be your book when you came back.”  So I talked to Mike.  I wouldn’t take their word for it, and Mike said, “No, it’s true, I was told I was only going to do it temporarily until you get back.”  And that’s what happened.  So I took Adam Strange over I think about the second or third issue.  I’m not sure. 

Stroud:  I remember in Showcase that was Sekowsky initially…

CI:  Right.  Absolutely.  And Gil Kane did the cover, I believe.  There was a controversy; I don’t know who was right or not.  Murphy claims he created the costume, and Gil said he created the costume.

Stroud:  Oh, boy.  That one will never be settled.

CI:  No, I wouldn’t get in the middle of that one either, I just dropped it completely.  The only thing I changed…he had bare arms on the character.  He’s out in space with bare arms, so I fixed that.  I made some minor changes…

Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella original art for the Mystery In Space #1 story "Nine Worlds To Conquer".

Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson original cover art for Mystery In Space #91.

Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson original cover art for Batman #196

Stroud:  That’s a significant one.

CI:  I would think so.  It was just small changes I made.  But I enjoyed that, and Julie loved doing that.  He loved doing that.

Stroud:  Oh, yeah, back to the sci-fi.

CI:  Oh we did well with that thing, by the way, the book sold very well.

Stroud:  Yes, I’ve got several copies of that title and the plots were excellent…

CI:  That was his forte, remember that.

Stroud:  Yes, and I’ve always been amazed at how productive Gardner Fox was.

CI:  Oh, unbelievable.  You know who was wonderful?  Johnny BroomeJohn Broome was a fantastic writer.  He was very slow.  Very, very slow.  Sometimes he’d labor over a page for a week, but he was so great.  Julie barely touched any of his work, by the way.  Maybe he’d put in a comma or something, but other than that he hardly ever touched it.  So that’s how great he was.  John did a lot of Flash stories, you know.  And then Gardner did some too.    

Stroud:  Speaking of those two, I know you had opportunities in the Detective title to draw each of them into a story.  Did anyone ever draw you into a story any time? 

CI:  I think somebody did at one time.  I think when I was editor somebody did, and it wasn’t very flattering, either.

Stroud:  Oh, no.

CI:  That’s okay.  I think it was Gil Kane if I’m not mistaken.  I know somebody did, but I don’t know who it was.  I can’t remember that. 

Stroud:  That copy of The Amazing World of DC comics that has you on the round table there…

CI:  That was funny, wasn’t it? 

DC Special #1. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

DC Special #1. Original pencils by Carmine Infantino.

The Flash #108. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  You drew that one, didn’t you?

CI:  Yeah, yeah, and that was cute, “Grodd, put the banana down.”  Very funny.  We had a good time with that.  And it was a long time since I’d drawn, so I had fun doing that. 

Stroud:  There was quite a stir from the readers when they reassigned art for the Flash to Andru and Esposito. 

CI:  I know.  They were upset I understand.

Stroud:  Madder than wet hens.  It was amazing.

CI:  Why, why?  I thought they were terrific artists.  I did it.  I assigned them, you know. 

Stroud:  Did you?

CI:  Yes, because when I left the drawing I had to pick somebody and I chose them and I thought they were very good, but apparently the readers were not happy.

Stroud:  Not for a while anyway.

CI:  I don’t understand that. 

Stroud:  Well, obviously you set a standard that was hard to meet.

CI:  I don’t know about that.  I mean, Ross is a fine artist, really a wonderful artist.

Stroud:  I understand he moved a little slowly. 

CI:  Yes, he did, he worked very slowly, but meticulous.  He was very meticulous.  He was a terrific artist.  That’s why I thought he was such a good fit on the Flash, but apparently not.  Look I picked him for…remember the Spiderman/Superman cover? 

Stroud:  Yes. 

CI:  I chose Ross.  I laid it out, but I chose him to finish it off and that was my choice.  Stan (Lee) had nothing to do with that.  And he was working for Stan at the time. 

Stroud:  That’s something I didn’t know.

CI:  Yeah, interesting, huh?  But I wanted him on it.  And he did.  And I think…did Mike ink it? 

Stroud:  That sounds correct.  (Later research revealed it was Dick Giordano.) 

CI:  Yeah, I think Michael inked it.  It was a good cover.  Beautifully done.

DC Showcase #4. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

The Avengers #203. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Red Tornado #2. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  Whose idea was that collaboration?  Did it come from DC or Marvel?

CI:  It came from Marvel.  I fought it.  I didn’t want it.  Because I thought Superman was much bigger than Spiderman at the time, and I didn’t want to give them much press.  But the guys upstairs thought it would make money and they didn’t give a damn, so they insisted that we do it. 

Stroud:  It was kind of a risk putting something out for two bucks.

CI:  Right.  Yeah.  It sold well.  It sold out pretty much.  So they were ahead of the game.  It was a personal thing, that was all that was.

Stroud:  The first Deadman story…

CI:  That was Arnold (Drake) by the way, he wrote that.  Are you the one that told me he was fired after Deadman?

Stroud:  No.

CI:  Not true, by the way.  I don’t think he was fired from there.  Not that I know of anyway.  Because I think he went to Europe or something at that time.  The story I heard, I don’t know if it’s true, I think he left DC at that time, and I know it’s not true because I was stuck with this thing, this book, so I had to do them myself.  I got Miller to dialogue them and have him come in the office about 6:00 at night and I’ve give him a plot and he’d go home and do it.  We did #2, #3 and #4 and Neal (Adams) came in my office one day and said he wanted to do the writing and drawing and my biggest mistake was saying, “Okay.” 

Stroud:  How did you guys get away with that opium reference in that first story? 

CI:  They never touched it.  Isn’t that strange, huh? 

Stroud:  Yeah, I mean the Comics Code was still pretty rigid.

CI:  Yeah, yeah, apparently it went right by them.  He wrote a beautiful story.  Very different.  I understand there’s going to be a film made on Deadman.

Stroud:  Really?

CI:  Yeah, that’s what I heard.  Some famous director wants to take it on.  The sad part was Arnold dying.  He didn’t get in touch with the director and then boom, he died and that was the end of that.  Unfortunately.

Stroud:  Yeah, in fact I found out he was working on a prequel to the Doom Patrol.

CI:  Really?  He was doing a lot of work before he died.  He was working like mad, but he really wanted to do the Deadman film, I know he did and he was trying to find a director.  He had quite a story for it, you know?  He wanted to write about Boston Brand’s life before being Deadman, which would be interesting, you know?  He had the plot done or something.  But apparently he couldn’t get to the director at all, so that was the end of that. 

Stroud:  And he’d done screenplays before, so that would be old stomping grounds for him. 

CI:  Oh, yeah.  He would have been very good on that.  But you know how they are out there, these guys, they’re comic book artists or writers.  They’re not interested.  They’re above that.        

Stroud:  Did you prefer covers to interiors or did it make much difference?

CI:  Some stories I did.  The Batman I didn’t enjoy at all, by the way.  So then I just enjoyed the covers.  I didn’t like doing the characters.  I didn’t like Bob Kane, frankly.  He didn’t like my work and there was a big to-do when I’m there and he’d complain about it and I said, “Go to hell, I don’t want to do it any more.”  And then they’d talk me into doing it.  I told them to shut up, and so on and so forth.  But I did all the covers then, you remember that? 

Flash Comics #92. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

A panel from Flash Comics #86 featuring Black Canary and Johnny Thunder by Carmine Infantino.

Detective Comics #239. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Stroud:  Yes, and a pile of them you did.

CI:  Yeah, and we brought the character back.  It was dying, you know.  It was literally dying.  And we did bring it back.  Thankfully.  The truth is, we began to bring it back but then the TV thing hit and boom, it took off like a rocket. 

Stroud:  If I’m not mistaken you were the first artist who actually didn’t have to sign your work as Bob Kane. 

CI:  Yeah, oh, yeah.  He didn’t like that.  He didn’t like that at all.  He wanted to sign them, too.  I said if he signs them I don’t draw them.  So that was the end of that. 

Stroud:  Good for you.

CI:  Yeah, well he dearly wanted to…well, you know him.  He’s a strange individual. 

Stroud:  He was pretty impressed with himself from what I’ve gathered.

CI:  Oh, that’s all he cared about.  In fact, when his wife divorced him, how any woman could leave Bob Kane, was beyond him.  He couldn’t believe that.  That’s all he really cared about.       

Stroud:  You've worked for DC and Marvel.  Were there big differences between how these companies operated? 

CI:  They never bothered me.  Even when I worked for Marvel.  I didn’t even work in the office.  I didn’t even go near them.  They used to send the work to me, and I’d send it back, you know?  And for them I worked on Ms. Marvel, Spiderwoman, Nova.  I did some Ghost Rider, too.  Not many, just a few.  And then of course Star Wars I did, too.  That was a tough one.  Very tough to draw.  I did 12 or 13 issues and just couldn’t handle it any more.  It was too much for me, you know?  The creator, he called me up, you know?  And he thought it was a matter of money, but I said, “No, no.  I’ve just had it.  It’s going to go downhill from here on out.  I’d better leave it.”  It was difficult.  Very, very difficult.  All those characters…even the spaceships.  But the two characters were really tough.  That little R2D2.  Very difficult to draw him.  He has all kinds of doo dads on him…

Stroud:  That reminds me of what Joe Giella told me about doing the Justice League and having to keep everything straight…

CI:  Thankfully I didn’t have to do that damned thing.  I would have had a fit on that one.  It’s difficult, doing all those characters.  Joe did them with no problem, though.  Mike (Sekowsky) was very quick on that, he was very fast.  And he was good.  Don’t sell the man short, he was very good.  Toward the end, he got sloppy.  In his heyday he was wonderful.  He could do anybody.  He could do (Jack) Kirby better than Kirby.  He was very good, Michael

Stroud:  They do things with color these days that was undreamt-of in the 1960s. Do you like it, or do you consider it a distraction?

CI:  Well, it’s not comic books any more, is it?  And then some of the drawings are illustrations now.  They’re not comic books any more.  And also what’s going on, there are no stories.  They’ve got guys flexing big muscles, big battle scenes…and that’s it.  That wasn’t comic books when I did them anyway.  I don’t think they’re selling well either, are they? 

Stroud:  The industry is struggling. 

CI:  I think that’s why we’re seeing some of these (Showcase Presents) 500-page reprint books.  They can’t lose money on those. 

Stroud:  The classics never die.

CI:  They’re black and white, they’re reprints.  Apparently they’re doing well, because DC has put out 5 of them already. 

Stroud:  At least.

CI:  Yeah, ‘cause I’ve done work on all of them.  I’ve got copies, that’s how I know. 

Carmine Infantino and Bob Wiacek original cover art for Star Wars #19

Star Wars # 30. Pencils by Carmine Infantino.

Carmine Infantino and Bob Wiacek original cover art for Star Wars #35.

Stroud:  In the 1960’s you just about locked up the Alley Awards.  Which one were you most proud of?  (Flash of Two Worlds, “Mystery in Space’s Planet that Came to a Standstill,” Flash in “Doorway to the Unknown,” Deadman’s debut with “Who’s Been Lying in my Grave?”)

CI:  Oh, you mean with the comic book fans?  We won everything.  We were fortunate there.

Stroud:  I’d say more than fortunate.  I’d say talented.

CI:  Well, that had something to do with it.  We had some great talents working with us, remember.  I had some of the best guys in the business working there.  They were all friends and I was happy to work with them.  So I was a fan of every one of them.  It seemed to show, you know what I mean?  Everyone put a lot into their work there. 

Stroud:  That was something Gaspar [Saladino] told me.  He said it was very collaborative.  He didn’t think there was much of an ego problem anywhere.

CI:  No, no.  I made sure of that.  I got a room put aside just for the artists and writers so they could bitch, complain, do anything they want.  There were no editors allowed in there, and it worked very well.  We had some great talent coming in.  Bernie Wrightson and of course Nicky Cardy.  When I took over there they were giving him a very hard time, you know, and he was going to leave, so I said, “Nicky, I just took over, give me a chance.”  It worked out and he stayed, thank goodness.  He’s marvelous, just marvelous.  I can’t say enough about him.   

Stroud:  You still hit the convention circuit and were just in Toronto?

CI:  It went well.  The fans up there are very nice.

Stroud:  Good to know you’re still appreciated.

CI:  I think so.  I hope so. 

Stroud:  How does it feel to have your work on a U.S. postage stamp?

CI:  That was interesting, huh?  That was in San Diego that we found out about it and it was interesting.  They took two of mine, I think.  I was very pleased.

Stroud:  I understand you did a great deal of consulting on the first Superman movie, but they didn’t credit you.  Did you receive any kind of consideration?

CI:  Yeah.  My name was supposed to be on the script.  I was supposed to be on the film, and then when they dumped me they took my name off the thing.  You can’t fight that, but I did a lot of work on that.  An awful lot.  That first script was a dog.  It was “Kill the Pope.”  That was the whole plot.  And I said, “Mother of God, we can’t do this.”  And when I went upstairs and complained they said if you can fix it, go out there.  I did and they did.  I worked on Superman I and II and saved both plots.  They’re pretty good, I think.   

Stroud:  Regarding the comics code authority:  Did the scripts/art work have to be sent to someone away from the DC offices for approval?

CI:  Yes, we had to send them to their office and we didn’t send the art, we sent the stats over and they had to give their approval.  Most of them went through fine, we had no problems with them.  But you know the guys got more creative with those restrictions.

Stroud:  That’s true.  I think that’s one of the things that really made the Silver Age.

CI:  Absolutely.  And now what they’ve got…all they’re selling is sex and violence.

Stroud:  And profanity.

CI:  Yeah.  You don’t need that in comic books.  That’s not creative any more, you know?

Stroud:  It’s lazy scripting. 

CI:  That’s right. 

Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson original cover art for Justice League of America #55.

A DC ad featuring the Go-Go Checks.

Batman #190. Cover by Carmine Infantino & Joe Giella.

Stroud:  Who came up with the go-go checks?

CI:  That was Sol Harrison and it was a big mistake.  ‘Cause at that time, the books were not selling, and all they had to do was look at the checks and they wouldn’t buy it.  DC wasn’t selling at that time, so the checks were a great barometer to avoid the books.  They’d see that, they’d say, “Take ‘em off.” 

Stroud:  Backfired completely, huh?

CI:  Yeah, it really backfired.  That was Sol.  That was before I took over there.  Thank goodness. 

Stroud:  So you don’t have to take the rap for that one.

CI:  No, no.  Not for that.  I would have gotten rid of it myself. 

Carmine Infantino.

Carmine Infantino.


Bryan Stroud

Bryan Stroud is a longtime fan of DC Comics, particularly the Silver and Bronze Ages, and has been published in a number of places over the last decade plus, to include the magazines Comic Book Creator andLurid Little Nightmare Makers and websites like The Silver Lantern and Comics Bulletin.  Bryan wrote the afterword to “Think Pink,” is a frequent contributor to BACK ISSUE magazine, Ditkomania and co-authored Nick Cardy:  Wit-LashHe and his indulgent wife have dined with Joe and Hilarie Staton and Jim Shooter.  He owns a comic book spinner rack that reminds him of his boyhood.