Goodbye to Two Greats

The world has been mourning Roger Ebert, who passed away last week, and I join them. I learned a lot about watching movies from the man, but as I observed from afar as he struggled valiantly with disease I learned a lot more about what it means to fully become a person. His film criticism was always commendable, but the way he used it to undergird a life of great curiosity and thoughtfulness was remarkable. He’ll be greatly missed.

I won’t try to write any more than this about Ebert, since so much has already been written about him just in the past two days. Not as much will probably be written about the passing of longtime comics great Carmine Infantino, though, but that doesn’t take anything away from his own remarkable life.

The Modern Comics Man

Infantino passed away Thursday at age 87. He started working in comics during their so-called golden age, endured the fallow period that followed, and then helped to rebirth them in the silver age, effectively transforming comics from a fad of the 1940s into an enduring kind of American (and now global) mythology.

He was a creative force, having served as editor at DC Comics in the 1960s and its publisher in the 1970s, but he will be best remembered as a singular draughtsman. He had a strong, expressive line that bordered on the abstract, especially the way he rendered perspective — nothing stood straight up in Infantino’s world; everything leaned aggressively forward, as if thrusting itself into the future. Very much reflecting his time, Infantino drew a world that was distinctly Modernist in many ways; his skewed, lithe figures would look more at home in an Eero Saarinen airport terminal than many real world humans ever would.

Carmine Infantino

Infantino was a hero to me as a kid. I used to pore over his drawings, fascinated by the liberties he took with the human form, and the alien-like environments he drew around his people. In 2006 I got to meet him very briefly and took this photograph. I find it incredibly sad that he’s gone now. May he rest in peace.