I thought the only bad news we'd get today was the passing of Roger Ebert, that tremendously gifted film reviewer, personality and, in recent years, prolific blogger. But now comes word Carmine Infantino has also died. Infantino had as great an influence on my sensibilities as Ebert did on the way I express my thoughts about them. Which is to say, quite a lot, even though it rarely shows because I'm a stinky writer and artist. Those two guys were gigantic in their respective fields.
Infantino is partially responsible for one of my all-time favorite titles, Kamandi by Jack Kirby. That's a book I intend to celebrate all this month for no other reason than I love it. Infantino tried to land the comic book rights to the Planet of the Apes film series and when he couldn't, he smartly asked Kirby to do something similar. It turned out not all that similar, and Kamandi #20 (which does feature talking apes) introduced me to Kirby and ignited a life-long love of the man's work. At the time, I knew nothing of Infantino. Flash foward a few years and I'd become a total nut about Star Wars. Marvel had Infantino pencilling their Star Wars monthly and that was my introduction to both his name and artwork.
Because of Marvel's Star Wars, I'll always associate Infantino with sharp, jutting chins. Some artists just have a certain defining, instantly recognizable tic. Curt Swan's endlessly similar faces, Gil Kane's forehead lines and clutching hands, John Buscema's glower (and Joe Kubert's), Neal Adams's Batman or whoever shouting and pointing directly at the reader, John Byrne's crosshatched cheekbones.
Jutting chins were Infantino's thing, at least at that late stage in his drawing career. When I finally saw some of his earlier Flash and Batman work in some DC reprint digest, I was shocked. Where are the chins?
Oh, and he co-created the Barbara Gordon Batgirl. See what I mean about his influence? Without that character, I wouldn't have another of my comics faves, the Cassandra Cain Batgirl.