Everybody's favorite librarian superhero gets her debut - drawn by Infantino.

Everybody’s favorite librarian superhero gets her debut – drawn by Infantino.

Yesterday, I rushed to put up a short piece on the death of Roger Ebert before I left work (I was in such a hurry that I initially got his year of birth wrong).  I never even got around to mentioning that in his autobiography he has a whole chapter on Steak & Shake (which I once read aloud to Veronica).  But what got lost in all the news of the death of Ebert (front page news everywhere, something written by so many people I read) was the death of Carmine Infantino, who was influencing me long before I ever knew who Roger Ebert was.

Carmine Infantino was a comic book artist – he began as an inker, eventually moving on to be the penciller and eventually became the publisher of DC Comics itself.  If you know comic books at all, he is one of the giants from its history.  And if you don’t know comic books at all, well you still probably have seen a lot of his work.

The Silver Age begins with Showcase #4 - also drawn by Infantino.

The Silver Age begins with Showcase #4 – also drawn by Infantino.

I first began seeing his work in the issues of Flash from the early 80’s – my brother Kelly collected Flash at the time and Infantino was the penciller from #296, all the way to the end of the run in #350.  But that was just the beginning.  Infantino was the penciller for some of the most seminal stories in comic book history.  The beginning of the Silver Age of Comics, Showcase #4, with the introduction of Barry Allen, the new Flash?  That was drawn by Infantino.  Flash #123, “Flash of Two Worlds”, the issue that began the idea of the multiverse and began my favorite thing about comics when I was young, the annual team-up between the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America?  Drawn by Infantino.

The debut of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, loved by my co-workers because she is a librarian (and red-haired, and awesome), in an issue that also mentions the Bay Psalm Book (which my employer has a copy of) in Detective #359?  Drawn by Infantino.

One of my most treasured possessions.

One of my most treasured possessions.

I got to meet him myself.  He came to a comic convention in Boston back in 2006.  I brought my copy of Batman: From the 30’s to the 70’s.  I had seen that book as a kid and longed for it – my local library had the Superman one, but I much preferred Batman – and it took me a long time to find the copy I eventually bought.  Infantino was the publisher of DC Comics when that book was published in 1971.  But he also drew the fantastic cover that adorned the book.  He graciously signed my copy of the book.  Even though I got rid of almost all of my comics in 2009, I kept this one.

There are a lot of things going out about Roger Ebert today.  But Infantino’s death I only spotted on a website I happen to read, in a small little piece.  Yet, he was a giant of the industry and his work helped change the course of comic book and pop culture history.  A full list of all his comic book work can be found here and you can also find more here.