Howard Chaykin’s memories of the recently-passed comic artist and publisher Carmine Infantino are interesting because they are Chaykin’s, written in his inimitable, irascible voice, as much as they are interesting because they are about Carmine Infantino.
“Back then, when I was in my early 20s, the fact that the publisher of DC Comics disliked me simply because I was associated with his lifelong nemesis [Gil Kane] seemed like the end of the world. In the long run, it didn’t make a damned bit of difference, but I made a commitment to myself that I would never fall into the kind of distaste for my contemporaries to which Kane and Infantino’s generation was clearly prone. Needless to say, things didn’t quite work out that way: there are a number of my contemporaries that I hold in the same high disregard that those men shared amongst themselves, and I’m certainly loathed by quite a few of my colleagues in return.”
No shit! Ha!
I know people who are scared of Chaykin because they’re afraid of his sharp tongue. You should hear him on the subject of the much-beloved-by-everyone-else Will Eisner. To hear that he imagined he, Howard Chaykin, would try to spread love and togetherness throughout the industry is especially delightful, knowing his reputation as a trouble-maker. None of us end up becoming who we thought we wanted to be.
I should mention that Chaykin’s refusal to suck up to the Common Gods of Comics is one of the reasons he is a hero of mine. That, and the amazing, seminal, artform-redefining work he has done throughout his career (I ignore the crappy work he has done throughout his career, as best I can). Please don’t hurt me Mr. Chaykin!