Monday, March 9, 2015

WHY THE FLASH [part 3] – Carmine Infantino

I was already a fan of the Flash when I bought my first comic starring the Scarlet Speedster.  That was issue #336.  This comic threw me right into the middle of the “Trial of the Flash” storyline that encompassed the final two years of the Barry Allen series.  On the cover Flash worked desperately to clear a pile of rocks within which lay a bloodied hand – his dialogue revealing the tension visible in his eyes:   “What good is all my speed -- when I couldn’t save the one woman who could clear my name?”  I had no idea what this all meant, but I knew I had to find out.  Written by longtime Flash scribe Cary Bates, this comic was my introduction to the wonder that is the art of Carmine Infantino – specifically the wonder of his rendering of the Flash. 

Infantino began working in comics at its infancy, in the 1940s, and honed his style over decades – evolving into a distinct artist admired by readers and professionals alike.  His linework was very fluid, the figures almost rubbery in the way they moved across a page, angled dramatically as they fought or ran or toppled from rooftops.  Infantino’s characters were balletic and graceful in a way rarely portrayed by other artists, and as he refined this style, he continued to stretch that, making his figures flow in a smooth arc across the page.  The world within his comic panels felt like a distorted mirror universe.  And, when he returned to the series in 1981, with issue #296, his style was pitch-perfect for the Flash.

Carmine Infantino is, hands down, THE Flash artist – earned on the fact, alone, that he worked on the Golden Age Flash, designed the look of the “new” Silver Age Flash, and had two lengthy runs that bookend that same Silver Age series.  His fluidity of line translated especially well to drawing the mad dashes of superspeed Barry Allen utilized to defeat his foes and save the day.  Angling the Flash to a ridiculous degree, with wavy speedlines retreating from his speeding form, it was perfect.  Is perfect.  To my mind, Infantino is the only comic artist who’s ever been able to delineate superspeed convincingly on the page.  All else pale, even the work of my favorite superhero artist, George Pérez, who had plenty of practice drawing superspeed with Kid Flash when he worked on the New Teen Titans. Infantino, when it comes to drawing the Flash, is the man.

I was already a Flash fan when I picked up issue #336 of the series.  But the artwork of Carmine Infantino is what solidified the Flash as my all-time favorite superhero.     


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