Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Filming: Carmine Infantino

On 6/28/11, more filming in New York City. For me, the first three hours of the day were occupied not with shooting but rather watching films.

I was the grateful guest of a son of Golden Age cartoonist Ruben Grossman; Rube was not only a prolific artist (and, it appears, a wonderful father) but also a prolific amateur filmmaker.

From roughly 1932 (yes, 1932) until his death in 1964, Grossman filmed his family to an extent far beyond anyone else from that time period that I know of: swimming pools, Thanksgiving meals, bar mitzvahs, strolls around the Bronx, trips to Miami. Even if I wasn't on the hunt for certain images, I'd have enjoyed looking through these ultra-vintage home movies (since transferred to videocassette) of a family I don't know. And given that I zipped though maybe 10 of the estimated 30 videotapes (if not more), I barely grazed the surface.

To call many of the captured scenes dazzling is woefully inadequate. Among the evocative gems: extended sequences (in color!) at the Bronx Zoo in the 1950s, pans of a simpler New York skyline (circa 1940s, I believe), a glimpse of the construction of Radio City Music Hall, and even some scenes inside the DC Comics office at 480 Lexington, where the company was stationed from 1938 to 1958.

I did not find precisely what I was looking for but I did find some useful footage—and, at some point soon, will likely be going back to continue the search.

From there, we descended on the home of DC legend Carmine Infantino, whose vast credits include the costume design of the Silver Age Flash (1956) and the culturally significant "New Look" Batman (1964).

Carmine was in equal parts gracious, uncompromising, and funny in person, just as he'd been on the phone.

It was trippy to stand at the very desk on which Carmine drew the Flash comics I read in the 1980s.

The following was new to me but I am not surprised to see that my friend Steven Thompson covered it five years ago: Peanuts creator Charles Schulz drew Batman. The original hangs in Carmine's bathroom:

The Brave and the Beagle: Batman and Snoopy

Speaking of new to me, straight-talkin' Carmine dropped a few Batman bombshells that hadn't come up with anyone else I've interviewed, nor with Carmine himself when I last interviewed him about this (2006).

You will hear them, too.


Paul Hoppe said...

Wow! I'm so looking forward to hearing more about it! I have to admit I'm currently reading some 70s and early 80s Marvel again, and Mr Infantino's name is all over them, obviously. Back then these comics had so much charme, and warmth, even in the grittiest crime-fighting stories.

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

I agree, Paul. In fact, it took the overly violent and overly indulgent comics of today to make me realize just how good some of the 80s stuff was. Not nearly as simplistic as memory sometimes suggests.

Dan said...


May I re-post the Carmine Infantino/Charles Schulz picture on my blog? If so, who should I give photo credit to?


Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Of course, Dan! Simply link back to my blog. Thanks for asking first!