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Comic Book Artist Carmine Infantino Reinvented 'The Flash'

Comic book legend Carmine Infantino died Thursday at the age of 87. During a five-decade career, he drew for DC, Marvel and others, and was most notable for co-creating the Silver Age version of The Flash and redesigning Batman's look in the 1960s.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A man whose name is widely known by comic book aficionados has died. Carmine Infantino was considered a legend and his creations were many.

J. DAVID SPURLOCK: The Flash, Deadman, Poison Ivy, Animal Man, Batgirl, The Trickster, Black Canary, Human Target, The Elongated Man, Detective Chimp and many, many more.

SIEGEL: That's artist and publisher J. David Spurlock. He met Carmine in the 1990s and became his agent.

SPURLOCK: It would take a book to accurately convey Carmine's contributions to pop culture.

SIEGEL: And that book is "The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino," an autobiography Spurlock helped to write.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Infantino was 87 when he died yesterday. For 50 years, he drew for DC Comics and Marvel Comics, among others. In the 1950s, Infantino's great creation was The Flash, a fast-moving, red-suited crusader. An earlier version of the character had existed before World War II, but went nowhere. One day, Infantino was summoned to the phone.

SPURLOCK: His editor, Julius Schwartz, called him and said, we're going to try a superhero again, and we want you to do something new. No, he says, we're going to do The Flash. And Carmine says, what are you going to take that old thing out of mothballs for?

CORNISH: They convinced Infantino to take the job, and it just so happened that he had a superhero idea ready to go and, presto, the character was reborn.

SPURLOCK: Basically, everything was new except for the fact that he ran fast and his character name was The Flash.

SIEGEL: The Flash reinvigorated DC Comics and the comic industry in general. It eventually became a TV series in 1990.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: It retold the story of the scientist given the ability to run as if he were on supercharged steroids.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE FLASH")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) At 347 miles an hour?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as character) That was before the equipment crashed. You may not have hit your top speed.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) What's happening to me?

SIEGEL: And the franchise lives on. There are even rumors of a Flash movie on the horizon.

CORNISH: Carmine Infantino died yesterday at his home in New York City. His legacy includes not only The Flash, but characters from Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and "Star Wars" and more comics he touched in his long career. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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