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Author Topic: The Flash: Silver Age (and Origin)  (Read 6908 times)
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Aldous
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« on: June 12, 2004, 06:52:06 AM »

I have a high regard for the Silver Age Flash. I have quite a lot of Silver Age Flash comics in my collection, stories I really liked as a kid. They were exciting at the time, and fired a young imagination. Re-reading those old comics now (From "Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt" onwards) proves they still hold up today. Barry Allen-Flash is a neat character and his early comics are some of the best super-hero comics ever, especially those written by Gardner Fox and John Broome.

That's my opinion.

What's not my opinion, and what I have read many times, is that Julius Schwartz created the Silver Age Flash and kicked off DC's Silver Age. While I have a high opinion of Julius, it's just not correct to say he created Flash. It's too easy to take something often repeated as gospel.

I forgot that Robert Kanigher (the great Robert Kanigher) wrote the first Silver Age Flash comic. Every time Flash is brought up, someone mentions Schwartz; but Kanigher...?

It's interesting that Kanigher says Gardner Fox is the creator of The Flash (meaning the original Flash of course).

Purely by accident (I was looking for something else), I came across this web page that presents an article from Alter Ego Vol. 3 #10. Here are some quotes from Robert Kanigher:

Quote
I created the modern Flash. I wrote about him. I sat with him and listened to his hopes and despairs and dreams. He has my genes.


Quote
One day, Mr. Schwartz asked me to write a new origin for The Flash. Gardner Fox had originated The Flash. He was, and in my mind would always be, the creator of The Flash. I merely reinvented The Flash. I wrote a completely finished script in every single detail, which he [Schwartz] gave to Carmine Infantino to draw.


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[Gardner] Fox was a creator. A seminal figure. He created The Flash, etc. I invented Flash 2, the modern Flash. A world of difference.


Quote
Gardner Fox created The Flash, the fastest man in the world, in Flash Comics #1, 1940. No illustrator (penciler), inker, letterer, colorist, or editor whispered to him in the mysterious, labyrinthine maze of his brain what path he was to follow; like all creators, he did it alone. This was the Jay Garrick-Flash of the Golden Age.

I arrived at DC by a meandering route, never having read comics (although I found The Golden A-s-s by Apuleus very comical; as were Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, the pornographic "Tiller the Toiler" and "Jiggs and Maggie" (furtively sold in Times Square in soiled little mini-comics by soiled little men), Fanny Hill, Villon's Ballad to Fat Margot (written when he was in jail)... but comics? No. Sue me. I was uneducated.

Although Fox, Bill Finger, John Broome, etc., were reliable writers at DC in 1956, Julius Schwartz asked me to write a new origin for a new Flash. It was easy...

I hadn't read or seen any of Fox's "Flash." I wrote a handful in the 1940s, illustrated by Joe Kubert, Lee Elias, and others. Just wrote them.

Come 1956 and all I needed to know about the new assignment was that he was the fastest man alive. I left the rest to my inner self. What name to give the new Flash? I was too impatient to waste time to think up one. You really can get hung up on the simplest things. My task was to bring him alive. What could be more natural than to call him Flash, and pretend that he was inspired by an old comic? And Jay Garrick was changed into Barry Allen, who was the new Flash.

The Flash's ring was sheer plagiarism. When I was a pre-teen or almost a teenager, I used to sit on the steps of a tenement house at Washington Ave. and about 179th Street, with a rabbi's son, who was an aspiring pulp writer. He told me about a character running in a pulp. Called the Crimson Clown, I believe. When he wanted to switch from his civvies, he pressed a spring on a ring on his finger. The clown costume erupted out and expanded to life-size. So, many years later, I stole that gimmick. You can't sue me. The statute of limitations has run out.

How to give Barry his super-powers? I used comics' hallucinatory idea of reality. I made him a police scientist, since I had worked for the P.A.L. for several years, and blew him up in a chemical explosion. In real life he would have been scraped off the walls. In comics, his atomic structure was rearranged. And he became the fastest man in the world. Naturally, he was always late in civilian life, exasperating his girl friend. He had to have a girl friend, didn't he? He had to be late, didn't he?


I admire Robert Kanigher as a writer and creator. It is not correct, as far as I can tell, to credit Schwartz with the creation of Flash and DC's Silver Age. As with all the best super hero comics, it's a collaborative effort, and no one can deny what a great opening story we have with "Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt".

Quote
Julius Schwartz:

...Robert Kanigher (originator of The Flash in its Showcase tryout)...


Quote
Carmine Infantino:

On one day I was delivering my work, Julie told me we were going to try The Flash. He said it was decided at an editorial meeting. He gave me a script by Kanigher. (I know Kanigher had a lot of input. It was in his style.)

.....

The cover idea for the first issue was Kanigher's-this I do remember.

.....

Lastly, Kanigher had a way with his scripts to make me stretch and grow. Thank you, Bobby.

.....

In early 1956, during one of my weekly visits to Julie's office-one he shared with writer-editor Bob Kanigher-I was informed that during one of their editorial meetings a decision was made to try super-heroes once again...

The Flash was the character selected to begin the revival, and I was offered the art assignment. The Flash seemed like an old friend; I was elated.

Bob Kanigher had developed a new version of the old Flash, and I was told to design a new character, a new costume, and sundry villains. Joe Kubert was to be the inker, and Julie, of course, would be the editor.

.....

Bob handed me the script, and even laid out the first cover. He did a rough drawing of it; I'll never forget it. Then he sat with me and asked, 'If there's anything in the script that you don't quite understand, ask me.' And we went over it quite a bit.


All of the above quotes I have copied and pasted from this web page: http://www.twomorrows.com/alterego/articles/10flash.html
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India Ink
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2004, 11:00:01 PM »

If not for the great fear that the comic corporations have about retaining ownership, by rights every comicbook would have a space (about half a page somewhere at the back of the book) where a full list of credits would appear for all the material in the mag.  This would include the usual corporate info you find in the indicia (which DC has moved to the back of some books), plus story credits (artist, writer, and maybe more detailed info about who did what in the process including production staff, separators, lettering programs, etc.), plus a complete run-down of creator credits (for Schwartz "silver age" characters credit would have to be given to Schwartz himself, writers like Kanigher or Broome, and artists like Infantino or Gil Kane, plus the "golden age" original creators like Sheldon Mayer, Bill Finger, Max Gaines, et al).

This would all be printed in very fine lettering and nobody would pay much attention--except obsessive fans--but it would be in keeping with what's already done for movie credits and television credits and even for music recording credits.
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India Ink
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2004, 02:13:32 PM »

Interesting to see that now Carmine's claiming he "created" the Silver Age Flash (and Batgirl to boot!).  Maybe before he takes this to court he should consult his own prior comments in print!
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India Ink
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2004, 07:19:31 PM »

I don't think there's a contradiction in his comments.

I haven't read the court documents, so I'm not entirely sure what Carmine is suing for, but clearly Infantino designed the look of the character.  I don't think he's saying he and he alone came up with all the ideas, wrote the stories, and edited them.  But it's quite clear to everyone that he drew the first story and every story thereafter for years to come.

Now DC licenses out these images--of both Flash and Batgirl, and a few other characters that Infantino designed.  On a lunchbox you're not reading a Robert Kanigher character description or Julius Schwartz's editorial notes--but you are seeing Carmine's specific design.

Even the current Wally West Flash is really Infantino's design, slightly alltered.

Designers get royalties for the use of their logo designs--and now character designs are used like logos or trademarks.  If DC can trademark the image of the Flash and his chest symbol, and get money from licensing out that image--then Infantino should be able to get a share of royalties for his designs--IF he can prove that he never sold his rights outright and forever to DC at the time that he originally made those designs.

This seems to be the nub of the argument--whether Infantino relinquished his rights at the time, and whether current law now affords him protection of those rights.
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India Ink
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2004, 07:29:49 PM »

The only place I've seen this reported was on the TV Shows on DVD website, which in turn quoted Newsday, which made it sound like Carmine claims the whole character.  Here's the quote:

Quote
Newsday is reporting that Carmine Infantino, former President of DC Comics and creator of the Barry Allen version of The Flash, "wants a federal judge to declare that he, not DC parent Time Warner Inc., owns the rights to the fastest man alive. Infantino says in his suit that he's also the creator of Batgirl, and he wants a court to acknowledge that too." The article goes on to discuss this in detail:

Infantino, who's won numerous awards for his illustrating, says his most famous character is the second incarnation of The Flash, whose real name is Barry Allen. He says he developed the character while working as a freelance artist.

The Flash was recreated by Infantino in 1956, when Allen, a police scientist, was splashed with chemicals and struck by lightning, leaving him with super-human speed, according to the Web site Comic Art & Graffix Gallery.

Infantino also takes credit for reviving the Batman comic in the 1960s, by giving the crime-fighter a new look and creating his fellow superhero, Batgirl. Infantino subsequently joined DC Comics, becoming president in 1973, the suit says.

(Infantino's lawyer, Nicholas) Perrella said Infantino gave DC Comics permission to use The Flash in comic books, not in other media
.


This report sure made it sound to me like Infantino thinks he created the characters completely.  

Whether he's claiming the characters or just their designs, he'll have a heck of a time collecting, in my opinion.  When an artist is commissioned by a company to create a design, I should think it's understood that they will own it.  Now if he created it on his own, brought it to DC and convinced them hey, maybe we should write a character around this design, well then that's another story.

But that's not what happened.  Not to take anything away from Infantino, who's a talented artist and was a great publisher for DC, but I worry about what's going to happen if the few old-timers who are left start bringing suits based on events almost none of the original players are alive to shed light on.
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Aldous
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« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2004, 12:35:07 AM »

India...

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This would all be printed in very fine lettering and nobody would pay much attention--except obsessive fans


I don't find it acceptable for someone to claim undeserved credit for something. That's all I'm saying.

As to the example Nightwing just gave, it's ridiculous for Carmine Infantino to be claiming he created Flash.

Quote from: "India Ink"
Now DC licenses out these images--of both Flash and Batgirl, and a few other characters that Infantino designed. On a lunchbox you're not reading a Robert Kanigher character description or Julius Schwartz's editorial notes--but you are seeing Carmine's specific design.


I see your point, India, but I don't really agree. If Kanigher (and Schwartz), and Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert had not presented Carmine with those concepts, there would be no visual design. He already said Kanigher went over everything with him. You cannot say that the artist Carmine Infantino just came up with this "design" out of the blue, and that it was Flash. The design here has the backing of great concepts. It's patently not a "logo" of any kind. We have a drawing by Infantino, sure, but it's the product of rich and varied ideas.

What exactly are people like Carmine after? Is it greater recognition? This I wouldn't understand, because he already has the respect of the readers and the profession, and we are all aware of his innovative Flash art. So he's really doing it for money, then, and greed is never a good look.
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2004, 04:31:05 AM »

Hello guys,

A new rather detailed article has been posted on this case it is filled with a lot of information and a must read for anyone following this case.

http://newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=14262
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2004, 02:18:56 PM »

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What exactly are people like Carmine after? Is it greater recognition? This I wouldn't understand, because he already has the respect of the readers and the profession, and we are all aware of his innovative Flash art. So he's really doing it for money, then, and greed is never a good look.


Only Carmine knows for sure, but the sad truth is most of these guys are probably not too well off.  When you consider the giants who built the comic book industry often did so for peanuts, and are suffering to make ends meet in their old age, it's doubly insulting to see the "superstar" writers and artists of today bringing in rock star salaries and licensing deals (when their stuff is, comparatively, crap).  But that's another rant...

The point is Carmine may just need the money.  I reserve "greed" to describe people who already have all they need but want more anyway.  He may not fit that description...he may be in dire straits even, and he may honestly think he got a bum deal all those years ago.

There's also a long history of acrimony between Carmine and his successors, who went out of their way to paint him as an incompetent leader during his tenure as publisher.  (Personally, whatever issues the bean-counters may have with him, I think DC never topped the Infantino-as-Publisher years in terms of sheer creative energy.)  I'm not discounting the possibility Carmine is doing this to give DC a hard, sharp poke in the eye.
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