[Artist Nelson deCastro wrote this for his Facebook page and it is reprinted with his permission. Comics great Carmine Infantino passed away yesterday at the age of 87.]
by Nelson de Castro
I had the pleasure of being the great Carmine Infantino’s art assistant back through 1990 to 1992. He was a great guy and a great mentor. To be honest, I believe the term “bad-ass” is a more accurate description.
I’ve met a lot of weasels in the comics industry. Carmine was just the opposite. He said what he meant, and meant what he said. I was a student at S.V.A. back then, and my teacher Joe Orlando introduced us. We did a lot of work for DC’s Special Projects department. Carmine taught me a lot about drawing comics and even more about the comics industry. He always treated me with nothing but the uttermost kindness and respect. I can’t tell you how many great stories he told me about his youth, personal life, and his very long and prolific career in comics.
My jaw would drop as he told me any number of stories like how he got the 1976 Superman movie off the ground, or how he discovered Neal Adams, or his conversations with Steven Spielberg. Visiting Carmine to drop off work was always cool. Kurt Vonnegurt was his neighbor and I would often run into him on the elevator. Inside Carmine’s apartment was a treasure trove of art from some of the finest artists in the world. He must have had 4 or 5 Hirschfeld originals in his living room alone. I’ll never forget using his bathroom for the first time and seeing an original full color Charles Shultz drawing. It was awesome. A frustrated Snoopy in full Red Baron attire, looks towards the viewer as Batman sleeps on the roof of his doghouse. It was personalized to Carmine.
It wasn’t long before I started to build a career of my own. Carmine was always there to give me support and career advice. Although Carmine didn’t do many convention appearances, I would run into him at a show from time to time. We would laugh and talk about how we had to, “Get together and have dinner one of these days”. The last time I saw him I said, “I’ll give you a call after the con in a week or so. Is your number still 1(212)838-xxxx?”. “Holy Cow!”, he said. “You still remember?”. He just couldn’t believe that I still knew the number after all these years. Time went by and as usual, I got caught up in the hectic chaos of my life. Sadly, I forgot to call Carmine. Had I only known that brief meeting at the con was to be the last time I’d see my friend and mentor. It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Thanks old friend for all you’ve done. May you rest in peace.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.