Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Carmine Infantino (1925-2013) - The Timely Years

The great Carmine Infantino, a giant of the industry and one of the most important founders of the silver-age of comics, passed away at his home in Manhattan on April 4th at the age of 87. Accolades are still pouring in from all over the internet and industry media as his half-century life as an artist, editor and publisher is dissected and recollected by fans of several generations. (Coincidentally, on the same day as beloved film critic Roger Ebert). I took the photo of Carmine above at my pal J. David Spurlock's Vanguard Productions table on April 3, 2004, nearly nine years to the day prior to his passing. The New York Times covered Carmine's passing here:

My job is not to re-hash a career that is way too long to detail properly here, but instead to do what I do best, that is present the work Carmine did for Timely/Atlas, work that is relatively unknown and severely under-appreciated. Ger Apeldoorn, custodian of the wonderful blog "The Fabulous Fifties", has already put up a terrific cross-company appreciation of Carmine Infantino's 1950's genre work including samples of Atlas stories I will cover more broadly.

Carmine Infantino's earliest history in the comic book industry is tied into early Timely history and I've had a hand in possibly ferreting out some long unknown mysteries about the dawn of his career. So let's start at the very beginning. 

Carmine Infantino was born in Brooklyn on May 24th, 1925. He attended the School of Industrial Arts and there met Frank Giacoia, who was to become a life-long friend. While still in his early high school years he made the rounds of comic book shops including Fox, Chesler and Quality. At Chesler, Harry A. Chesler actually paid him $5 a week just to watch and learn. At Quality he absorbed the terrific influences of Lou Fine, Reed Crandall and Will Eisner, influences: "that inspired me tremendously." (1)

Carmine and Frank Giacoia finally turn up at the doorstep of Timely Comics at the end of 1940. According to Carmine himself in his autobiography produced with J. David Spurlock, The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino:

"One day in '40 we decided to go up to Timely Comics, which later became Marvel, to see if we could get some work. They gave us a script called "Jack Frost" and that story became our first published work. Frank did the pencils and I did the inking. Joe Simon was the editor and he offered us both a staff job. Frank quit school and took the job. I wanted desperately to quit school and I told my father it was a great opportunity. He said 'No way! You're gonna finish high school." (2)

Vanguard Productions, 2001

Reading this back in 2001, I jotted down the pertinent reference and filed it away in my records. Flash forward to 2006 and I was asked to write the introduction to the Marvel Golden-Age Masterworks hardcover collection that was to reprint the first 4 issues of Timely's USA Comics. Receiving the reference material, I was happy to find that the only 4 installments ever published of the Timely feature Jack Frost were in the first 4 issues of USA Comics, Timely issues I had never, ever, had the opportunity to see. In fact, I dare say very few collectors had ever seen these issues as the entire title is one of the scarcest Timely superhero runs known.

As I set about writing the introduction and putting the series into historical context, I enlisted help from the two finest golden-age spotters I know, Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., and Hames Ware, in getting the credits down as best as possible. Researching Infantino's involvement with the feature revealed sources crediting the very first story in issue #1 as his. I immediately I realized there was a problem.

The first Jack Frost story in USA Comics #1 (Aug/41) was written by Stan Lee (and depending on how you look at on-sale dates, was either his 1st, 2nd or 3rd scripted comic book story**) and the artwork, I immediately recognized, was drawn by Charles Wojtkoski, also know as Charles Nicholas. Wojtkoski was all over Timely books at this juncture, drawing, among other features, The Challenger in Daring Mystery Comics #7 (Apr/41), Hurricane in several early issues of Captain America Comics, Rockman in USA Comics #3 (Jan/42, taking over from Basil Wolverton), and even The Comedy Kids in Comedy Comics #9 (Apr/42), as well as contributing illustrations to Martin Goodman's war-time truncated pulp line.

**(We could debate the merits of this being Stan Lee's 1st, 2nd or 3rd comic book script. His long agreed upon debut was Headline Hunter in Captain America Comics #5 (Aug/41). This Jack Frost story was "also" dated Aug/41. Additionally, the Stan Lee Black Marvel story in All Winners Comics #1 is cover dated (Summer/41). So pick your poison and search out actual on-sale dates. That will determine the actual winner.)

*** 4/12/13 Addendum: Ok, I did a little digging and have a tentative "what was Stan Lee's very first published comic book story"  answer. According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics, the on-sale date of USA Comics #1 (Aug/41) trumps them all! Here's how they line up:
  1. USA Comics #1 (Aug/41), featuring Jack Frost : 4/20/41
  2. Captain America Comics #5 (Aug/41), featuring Headline Hunter : 5/5/41
  3. All Winners Comics #1 (Summer/41), featuring Black Marvel : 5/20/41
Assuming Mike's on-sale dates are correct (which I don't have any confirmation), then Stan Lee's very first published story was Jack Frost in USA Comics #1 (Aug/41) and NOT the long-held Headline Hunter in Captain America #5 (Aug/41), beating it to the newsstands by 2 whole weeks!  As for which was actually scripted first? No one knows and it could have truthfully been either. You read it here first, folks!!!  [And of course this is separate from Lee's very first published work of any kind, the 2-page text story in Captain America Comics #3 (May/41), "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge".]

**** 4/14/13 Addendum: Based on some recent research done by Tim Troup since this point was brought up, I can say with a great degree of certainty that Captain America #5 was "not" Stan Lee's comic book story debut. Troup has determined , by way of the United States Government  Catalog of Copyright Entries, that indeed, Jack Frost in USA Comics #1 (Aug/41) was copyrighted first. Here are the details:
  1. USA Comics #1 (Aug/41)  - copyrighted May 15, 1941
  2. All Winners Comics #1 (Summer/41) - copyrighted May 19, 1941
  3. Captain America Comics #5 (Aug/41) - copyrighted May 27, 1941
So the long-held Captain America Comics #5 actually comes in third in the copyright order.

USA Comics #1 (Aug/41) p.1 (Charles Wojtkoski)
Stan Lee's very first published comic book story!!

So issue #1 was out and all sources claiming #1 were wrong. The Jack Frost story in USA Comics #2 (Nov/41) was unsigned and the artwork unknown to me. Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., Hames Ware and I came to a consensus that this looked a great deal like Sam Cooper and we assigned a tentative guess there. 

USA Comics #2 (Nov/41) p.1 (Sam Cooper?)

I'll skip to issue #4 (May/42) and report that the art "appeared" to be the work of Pierce Rice with an inker, postulated to possibly be Louis Cazeneuve. Understand that all these guesses are just that, "guesses", assigned by running stylistic nuances by the minds of the best golden-age art spotters I know. But at least they had recognizable styles that while could even have the hands of additional unknowns and background artists, were seemingly apparent known quantities. 

USA Comics #4 (May/42) (Rice/Cazeneuve?)

Left with Jack Frost in issue #3 (Jan/42), I called up Carmine to discuss memories of his involvement on Jack Frost. Several years earlier I had made his acquaintance when I showed him a score of Atlas stories to review for possible inker involvement (more on that later). Carmine didn't know what issue his story was and even confessed (on my asking) that he was unsure that it was even printed. Collecting clean scans of the 4 involved stories, I walked them over to Carmine's apartment on my lunch hour (he lived within walking distance of my office), leaving them with his doorman (he wasn't in) and waited to hear from him. He called me the next day, telling me he couldn't identify which one it was. I told him I had tentative ID's for all but issue #3, but had no idea what Frank Giacoia's pencils would look like, nor his teen-age inks, and that as long as we assume it was printed, it was possibly issue #3 by default. Carmine warily agreed.

But now another problem cropped up. I was 100% convinced that George Klein was also in this story, seeing his indisputable background elements in certain panels (one day I'm going to post my FF#1 inker expose' on this blog). I called Carmine again and asked him if anyone else had worked on the story and his answer was that he was certain no one else had. I then went one step further, asking if someone else could had worked on it "after" he handed it in. He agreed it was possible and further felt even more comfortable (in the ensuing days since we last spoke) in assigning this 3rd story as his work with Giacoia. So my theory about all this is that the story Giacoia and Infantino turned in was pretty rough (hey, they were teenagers!) but showed enough promise for Joe Simon to buy it. Simon then assigned George Klein (a very capable inker who had already done background work on select issues of the Simon & Kirby Captain America run) to spruce up the story. And as of this writing, that's the best I can do. 

Except.....there is also one more tiny possibility, the possibility that the the Giacoia/Infantino Jack Frost story never saw print, as the feature was cancelled after issue #4. This is not necessarily a likely scenario, as Martin Goodman would waste nothing and the story would have found a home "somewhere", but I bring it up mostly due to the fact that the story below also bears a resemblance to very early Sekowsky/Klein Timely artwork as typified by the Whizzer story in All Winners Comics #3 (Winter 1941/42), a story that appeared nearly simultaneously. The panel below on the right is definitive Sekowsky/Klein artwork. So in spite of all the research done over this alleged Giacoia/Infantino story, my personal feeling is that it still hasn't been answered 100% to my satisfaction. And to pick at this even further, another close study of the Jack Frost story in issue #2, a story tentatively "guessed" as Sam Cooper, looms large in my mind. Sam Cooper as an attribution is in no way definite. Could it be, I dare suggest, Giacoia/Infantino? (And folks wonder why golden-age art spotting can be so frustrating!)

? Giacoia ?/ ?Infantino ?/ Klein
USA Comics #3 (Jan/42)
Sekowsky/Klein All Winners Comics #3
(Winter 41/42)

USA Comics #3 (Jan/42) p.1 (?Giacoia?/?Infantino? & Klein)

USA Comics #3 (Jan/42) p.2

USA Comics #3 (Jan/42) p.3

USA Comics #3 (Jan/42) p.4

USA Comics #3 (Jan/42) p.5

USA Comics #3 (Jan/42) p.6

USA Comics #3 (Jan/42) p.7

After their story was turned in, Frank Giacoia was offered a staff position at Timely, which he took, and Carmine went back to school, continuing to freelance around the industry for the likes of Charlie Biro at Lev Gleason, the Binder shop and others, ending up at DC in 1946.

Here's a sample of Carmine Infantino in 1943 at Lev Gleason on Crime Does Not Pay #30 (Nov/43) (3)  Whether Carmine did this alone is unknown. By Carmine's memory, he relates working for Lev Gleason a bit later. Another interesting thing about the story that follows is the fact that it looks an awful lot like what I "thought" concurrent Timely Allen Bellman looked like!

Crime Does Not Pay #30 (Nov/43) p.1

Crime Does Not Pay #30 (Nov/43) p.2

Crime Does Not Pay #30 (Nov/43) p.3

Crime Does Not Pay #30 (Nov/43) p.4

Crime Does Not Pay #30 (Nov/43) p.5

Crime Does Not Pay #30 (Nov/43) p.6

What Carmine didn't mention in his autobiography was the fact that at some point he apparently "did" join the Timely staff for a short time, as recalled by Timely staffer Allen Bellman:

"Another Italian fellow I remember much earlier was Carmine Infantino. He was friends with Frank Giacoia. It was Carmine who I recall telling me about this new young Italian singer who was appearing at the paramount. That was Frank Sinatra! Carmine was a big fan." (4)

"Carmine was sort of a chubby kid at Timely, lots of hair, but a novice as many of us were. He was extremely talented and made his mark at DC." (5)

While Bellman (a staffer starting at the age of 18 in 1942 and lasting until the staff was disbanded at the end of 1949) could have gotten to know Carmine as a friend of Giacoia's who freelanced, he believes Carmine was actually on the staff for a while. Whether on staff or freelancing, Carmine did do additional work for Timely in the 1943-1946 period, stories I haven't yet tracked down. In an excellent interview with Jim Amash they discussed several possible Timely era features and stories (gleaned from a perusal of Carmine's listing in Jerry Bails' Who's Who of American Comics), including a handful of alleged funny-animal stories done for Vince Fago. Nothing definite comes out of it, nor are any actual dates pinned down. (6) The identification of this work awaits further study and hopefully possible future discovery. 

TwoMorrows Publishing,  2010

Along with golden-age work at DC/All American, and before work at Crestwood for Simon & Kirby (on Charlie Chan) and the birth of the silver age back at National in 1956 (on The Flash), Carmine Infantino did a voluminous amount of freelancing for several companies including Hillman (on Air Boy and The Heap),  Holyoke (on Captain Aero) and for Stan Lee at what we now called Atlas Comics.

I want to mention a handful of Carmine Infantino attributions in 1949, early 1950 and 1951, on stories published during the waning days of the Timely bullpen and shortly thereafter. I'm not willing to say that these stories, as guessed at on the wonderful Atlas Tales website, are penciled by Carmine. I know why they are guessed as such but cannot say with any degree of certainty that Carmine worked on them. Several of them actually look like Mike Becker had a hand in then, rather than Carmine. Becker at this time, had a similar surface look to his art as Carmine had to his, although Carmine was the superior artist and storyteller. Quite frankly, by this time they should "look" like Carmine Infantino, not resemble him. Some of these stories are:
  • #3933 Strange Reunion (11 pages) in All-True Crime Cases #31 (Jan/49)
  • #5986 The Frame-Up That Failed (8 pages) in Crimefighters #10 (Nov/49) 
  • #6713 Cheap! (8 pages) in Love Tales #40 (Feb/50)
  • #7482 He Called Me a Coward! (9 pages) in Men's Adventures #4 (Aug/50)
  • #8357 Mission: Murder! (5 pages) in Crime Can't Win #6 (Aug/51)
I'll take them individually:

Strange Reunion looks like Mike Becker with an inker. It's very stiff and while it does bear a surface resemblance to Carmine, my feeling is no. The splash panel looks to have been added after the fact and not associated with the story artist, so ignore that.

The Frame-Up that Failed is similar and looks even more like Mike Becker to me. But then again there's that surface similarity to Infantino and I wonder could this be Infantino/Becker? No.

Cheap! has a completely different inker, is much slicker, and looks more like Mike Sekowsky pencils with a heavy inker than Carmine Infantino.

He Called Me a Coward! actually reminds me more of Bob Brown, not Infantino. Decent artwork but I doubt Carmine penciled this.

Mission: Murder! has that Hy Rosen finish seen in several stories Joe Kubert penciled for Timely. My feeling is there's not likely any Infantino here, but I do see why it's suggested. This looks the closest to Infantino's 1940's work but completely unlike what he will be producing in the next year. So my answer is "no", this is not Infantino. 

With those questions addressed, let's now take a look at what Carmine Infantino actually did for Stan Lee's Atlas. By my count there are 21 stories, all done in 1952 and 1953, with cover dates extending into 1954. I also count 5 covers, all done in 1952 and all romance covers. Two additional covers are guessed at the Atlas Tales site, Kent Blake of the Secret Service #12 (Mar/53) and #13 (May/53), that I'm going to say were not penciled by Carmine.

artist unknown

artist unknown

Back in 2000 I sent Carmine a collection of all his stories and covers for review. He confirmed every one of them were his but didn't know who inked them. Some he suggested he inked himself. Gil Kane saw some of these stories and swore he inked several. Carmine had no recollection of Kane inking them but he also had no recollection that his brother Jimmy had ever worked for Stan Lee, insisting to me he had only worked for Crestwood. Then I showed him a score of Jimmy Infantino signed stories and floored him. (That possibly will be a separate blog post one day!)

So the inker attributions below are still fluid and may always be. Some I'm calling possibly/likely inked by Gil Kane but take it with a grain of salt. Gil said yes, "maybe", Carmine said no, "maybe". The best final source will be our own eyes. "Maybe."

Let's start out with the 5 romance covers. The main Atlas romance cover artist at this juncture was the wonderful Al Hartley, drawing most of the romance covers across the line. There was another unknown, not very talented artist who additionally rendered a few, and these 5 by Carmine:

  1. MY OWN ROMANCE #24 (Sept/52)
  2. GIRL CONFESSIONS #19 (Oct/52)
  3. LOVE ROMANCES #25 (Nov/52)
  4. ACTUAL CONFESSIONS #14 (Dec/52)
  5. LOVERS #44 (Dec/52)

My Own Romances #24 (Sept/52)

Girl Confessions #19 (Oct/52)
The face on the girl speaking the dialogue was touched-up 
or re-drawn by Christopher Rule

Love Romances #25 (Nov/52)

Actual Confessions #14 (Dec/52)

Lovers #44 (Dec/52)

Now let's take a look at the 22 stories Carmine Infantino drew for Stan Lee in 1952 and 1953. They break down into 14 pre-code horror/fantasy, 6 romance and 1 crime. 9 stories were scripted by Stan Lee, 1 by Hank Chapman and 1 by Carl Wessler. 10 scripts are currently unidentified. Carmine's artwork is beautiful, ornate and usually the lead story in every every issue it appears. Stan Lee was putting the strongest story art at the very beginning of the books and as seen 9 times, was often keeping Carmine for his own scripts.

Please let me know if I've missed any. 

  1. A-722 Locked Up (5p.) in Adventures Into Weird Worlds #9 (Aug/52) w-Hank Chapman
  2. A-785 The Hooded Horror! (7p.) in Mystic #12 (Sept/52) w-Stan Lee
  3. A-788 The Gang (6p.) in Justice Comics #30 (Oct/52) w-Carl Wessler
  4. A-874 Be Still My Heart (6p.) in My Own Romance #24 (Sept/52)
  5. A-909 Witch Woman (7p.) in Journey Into Unknown Worlds #13 (Oct/52)
  6. A-936 The Stroke Of Midnight! (7p.) in Journey Into Mystery #3 (Oct/52)
  7. A-940 Here Is My Heart (6p.) in Love Romances #25 (Nov/52)
  8. A-959 I'll Always Love You (7p.) in Lovers #42 (Oct/52)
  9. B-144 Don't Try To Outsmart The Devil! (8p.) in Adv. Into Terror #13 (Dec/52) w-Stan Lee
  10. B-204 Molu's Secret! (6p.) in Suspense #23 (Oct/52) w-Stan Lee
  11. B-234 Boiling Point (7p.) in Suspense #24 (Nov/52) w-Stan Lee
  12. B-346 The Vampire Maker! (7p.) in Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52)
  13. B-350 Ghosts In The Night (6p.) in Mystic #16 (Jan/53) w-Stan Lee
  14. B-424 Horror On Haunted Hill! (6 pages) in Adventures Into Weird Worlds #14 (Jan/53) w-Stan Lee
  15. B-815 Love Story (7p.) in My Own Romance #27 (Mar/53) w-Stan Lee
  16. C-086 Men Never Make Passes (5p.) in Lovers #48 (Apr/53)
  17. C-114 The Living Dead (5p.) in Spellbound #15 (June/53) w-Stan Lee
  18. C-209 Girls Who Wear Glasses (5p.) in Lovers #49 (May/53)
  19. C-359 My Brother Must Die (6p.) in Men's Adventures #21 (May/53) w-Stan Lee
  20. D-914 To The Stars! (5p.) in Strange Tales #26 (Mar/54)
  21. D-910 The Room With No Door! (5p.) in Mystery Tales #19 (May/54)
  22. E-112 The Wedding Present (5 p.) in Spellbound #22 (May/54)

1) #A-722 ADVENTURES INTO WEIRD WORLDS #9 (Aug/52). Scripted by Hank Chapman, this story Carmine insisted to me was inked by Frank Giacoia. I'm also sure my fellow Timely-Atlas lister Mark Clegg will be thrilled to see a special last panel (no spoiler here!)

2) #A-785 MYSTIC #12 (Sept/52). Written by Stan Lee, this is the first of 9 stories Stan would script for Carmine. A silly story that works in a silly sort of way, Carmine's artwork helps pull this off. Classic Stan Lee pre-code horror! 

3) #A-788 JUSTICE COMICS  #30 (Oct/52). Scripted by Carl Wessler. It seems that a ghostly-like inker has made another appearance here. I wonder if it's the same one I've mentioned before in another blog post? This is standard crime fare scripted by the most prolific crime scribe in the Atlas stable.

4) #A-874 MY OWN ROMANCE #24 (Sept/52). Carmine drew the cover also (re-presented from above).

Note that the clinch in the splash below is a past-up from the same clinch on page 3, panel 3. Hmmm. it almost looks like Al Hartley inked this but I don't believe it's so.

5) #A-909 JOURNEY INTO UNKNOWN WORLDS #13 (Oct/52).  

Bill Everett cover artwork

6) #A-936 JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #3 (Oct/52). This begins a style that is used on many of the remaining stories and has me wondering if this is Gil Kane (or Carmine himself) inking. I don't have a copy of this book but I can present the story in sterling black and white! This story was reprinted in Marvel's Atlas Masterworks Journey Into Mystery Vol 1 (2008). Seen in stark black and white, this artwork is beautiful!

7) #A-940 Love Romances #25 (Nov/52). Carmine also drew this cover (re-presented from above). The story inks "may" be Gil Kane, as per Kane's suggestion to me. I'm not so sure and wonder if the delicate, whimsical ink lines and feathery ornate backgrounds are more indicative of Christopher Rule, rather than Gil Kane. The hint is in a couple of female faces and their eyes.... examples are the blonde in: page 2, panel 4 & 6; page 4, panel 2; page 5, panel 5 & 7. Rule was on staff and could be called upon to touch up finished story art, specifically female faces.

8) #A-959 Lovers #42 (Oct/52). Gil Kane told me he inked this and I agree. We can use this story as a benchmark. While not that dissimilar from the previous story, I see Kane here as well as possibly Rule or even George Klein on backgrounds. Hard to say as it's only hinting to me.

Artist unknown - it's not Al Hartley

9) #B-144 ADVENTURES INTO TERROR #13 (Dec/52). Written by Stan Lee. This may be Gil Kane inks also. (Hmm...look at page 4, panel 8 and that Kane-esque upturned nose shot!). More vintage Stan Lee pre-code horror with humorous shock ending.

Bill Everett cover art - sorry, gotta post this beauty large!

10) #B-204 SUSPENSE #23 (Oct/52). Written by Stan Lee. Possible Gil Kane inks.

Bill Everett cover art

11) #B-234 SUSPENSE #24 (Nov/52). Written by Stan Lee. Same inking as above. Possibly Gil Kane. Rule-esque blonde woman's face.

12) #B-346 ADVENTURES INTO WEIRD WORLDS #13 (Dec/52). Unsigned script credit but very Stan Lee-esque in plot. Once again, possibly Gil Kane inks. Or not.

Bill Everett cover artwork

13) #B-350 MYSTIC #16 (Jan/53). Written by Stan Lee. Hmmm.... looks like Gil Kane's upturned nose again on page 6, panel 5. More Lee commie comeuppance. 

14) #B-424 ADVENTURES INTO WEIRD WORLDS #14 (Jan/53). Written by Stan Lee. As Ger Appeldorn mentions on his blog, Lee gets more mileage out of this plot a decade hence with Steve Ditko.

15) #B-815 My Own Romance #27 (Mar/53). Written by Stan Lee. The "rare" romance story in this period by Stan Lee. Of course he wasn't going to let just anyone draw it! This could be Carmine inking himself.

Al Hartley cover art

16) #C-086 Lovers #48 (Apr/53). Rule-esque feel to this. In fact, I'm certain of it. Page 3, panel 7 reeks of Christopher Rule. So I can say with certainty that he's inking here, in part, at the very least. Gorgeous Al Hartley cover artwork!

Al Hartley cover art

17) #C-114 Spellbound #15 (June/53). More Stan Lee scripted silliness. It's no mystery why he was so successful on gag a minute features like My Friend Irma, My Girl Pearl and Millie The Model (the Dan DeCarlo version).

18) #C-209 Lovers #49 (May/53). One last shot at romance. Author unknown. A gorgeous Jay Scott Pike cover fronts a pretty cool issue with stories penciled by Mike Sekowsky, Al Hartly, Art Peddy and this last hidden gem by Carmine Infantino. The copy in the box on the splash tells that this is a sequel to the previous issue's Infantino story, "Men Never make Passes", so here is essentially part two!

Jay Scott Pike cover artwork

19) #C-359 MEN'S ADVENTURES #21 (May/53). A last entry scripted by Stan Lee fronted by a Bill Everett cover. A strange title that kept changing genres throughout its 26 issue run. It started out as an adventure title called True Adventures starting with #3 (May/50). It changed to Men's Adventures with #4 (Aug/50). By #9 (Aug/51) it changed to a war title and ran this way through #20. #21 (May/53, this issue) converted it to a pre-code horror title for 6 issues. The last 2 issues changed again to Atlas hero-revival issues featuring the Human Torch, Captain America and Sub-Mariner, ending with #28 (July/54). 

Bill Everett cover artwork

20) #D-914 STRANGE TALES #26 (Mar/54). Harder to see carmine in this story perhaps because he's providing looser pencils. I postulated this inker in my Strange Tales Vol 3 Masterworks introduction as possibly being Gil Kane but I'm less inclined to think so now. I'm wondering if this could be Jack Abel.

21) #D-910 MYSTERY TALES #19 (May/54). 

21) #E-112 SPELLBOUND #22 (May/54).  [Possibly inked by Sy Barry]

By all accounts, this last story above was Carmine's very last story for Stan Lee during the Atlas years, winding up a dense 2-year burst of wonderful, unseen and unappreciated genre work. Carmine Infantino was one of the all-time greats of comic art and the comic book industry. He will be missed terribly.


Unless indicated, all images above are taken from my own collection and personally scanned by myself. Two stories above came from outside sources. Story #5 "Witch Woman" in Journey Into Unknown Worlds #13 came from pal Michael Feldman (the "other one"). The final story above, "The Room With No Door" from Mystery Tales #19, the cover image is from Atlas Tales and the story from Ger Apeldoorn's blog coverage of Carmine's 1950's work. Thanks to them both for my being able to put up here what I believe is a complete Carmine Infantino Atlas review.

  1. Infantino, Carmine. The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino, Vangard productions, 2001
  2. Infantino, Carmine. The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino, Vangard productions, 2001
  3. Blackjacked and Pistol Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer, Dark Horse Books, 2011
  4. Allen Bellman as interviewed by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, Alter Ego #32, TwoMorrows Publishing, May/04. Also here: http://timely-atlas-comics.blogspot.com/2012/03/allen-bellman-interview.html
  5. Allen Bellman, comments to Dr. Michael J. Vassallo on Saturday April 6, 2013.
  6. Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur, TwoMorrows Publishing, 2010


  1. Very interesting and complete overview. I agree ont the early tories. I see no Infantino there, no connection to his other work at the time. You could ave mentioned that the silhouetted skyline was the reason for some to attribute some of these to Infantino. If the Vampire story was by Stan Lee... I think so. Argument against: it starts wit a flash forward splash, which Lee rarely used in the fifties and the fact that there is no slang, which Stan Lee managed to include in almost every story he wrote (especially the westerns). Argument in favor: the tone of the story, the use of thru instead of through and the fact that it is seven pages. No one got to do seven pages in Stan's books, except Stan himself. There also is a 'silent' sequence with running commentary - which Lee was fond of using (and whoch he could only do because he gave himself an extra page). You know of course, that there was a part to to this story, by George Tuska? As fr the question if Kane inked the second half: I always assumed that there were a result of Infantino looking for a different, more designy look - coming from the Caniff/Kirby nfluenced style he used before that - letting the look be determined by the inking of Peddy and Starr. Therefore, I though he inked those himself (as he said to you). They look like his solo stuff for Warren many years later. And some of the solo work he did for DC, such as the Elongated Man. So if other inkers were involved, I believe he at least pencilled these very cleanly. Almost like Kirby pencilled his own stuff very sharply whe he didn't ink it himself in the fifties.

  2. I never trusted Mike's Amazing World Of Comics dates as he doesn't reference where he got them.

    BUT, there is another source.

    There is a US Gov. publication called the
    Catalog of Copyright Entries. It is put out by the Library of Congress.
    This publication "includes any printed and published copyright deposits"
    that they receive. I believe that means that they record the date that
    they receive the publication listed. Don't know exactly how they line up
    with on sale dates, but I believe it is the official copyright date.

    A bunch of these catalogs are on on the internet. 1941 happens to one of
    them. From Vol 36, 1941 part 2:

    USA Comics v1 #1 (Aug) copyrighted May 15 pg 384 1941

    CA Comics V.2 #5 (Aug) copyrighted May 27 pg 288 1941

    All Winners v1 #1 (Summer) copyrighted May 19 pg 140 1941

    I would assume that the copyright dates are at least in the order that
    they received their copies. If so, CA Comics #5 might actually be his
    third comic book story.

    1. Thanks Tim! This is much appreciated. I've added the data into the post above as a second addendum. Looks like this debate has been finally put to rest and Cap #5 as Stan Lee's first story can be thrown out.

  3. This is an incredibly informative and insightful profile. I knew that Infantino did a wide range of work but always associated him with The Flash. It is great to learn more about and sample his other projects. Thank you so much!

  4. Regarding Mike Sekowsky, Al Hartly & Art Peddy in Lovers 49, can you tell me who did what story? I just got done scanning my copy of the issue and I am trying to update the GCD index.