GROTH: I’m not sure what you did immediately after you left DC.
INFANTINO: I worked for Hanna-Barbera.
GROTH: Would that be immediately after you resigned?
INFANTINO: No. That was later. Then I worked for Marvel animation. Then I had a couple of opportunities to go back into the business. I won’t give you their names because I don t think it’s fair to them, but I said I would absolutely not work for anybody again, unless I got a percentage of the ownership. That I was adamant about. Because I wasn’t going to knock myself out again the way I did at DC and not own it. So I just kept turning down opportunities one right after the other.
GROTH: When would that have been?
INFANTINO: A year and a half after I left DC I got a tremendous opportunity with one of the comic book houses. They called, we sat and talked, and the salary was good, but I said, “I want a piece.” They said, ‘Well, we can’t do that.” I said, “That’s it then. Thank you.” I’m not working for someone again. Period. I won’t work for anybody again without owning a piece of the action. When you live at the whim of somebody else it’s a little scary I think. And I won’t do it again. I just refuse, period.
GROTH: When you say you wanted to own the materials is that material that you created entirely yourself?
GROTH: You actually did go on to do a whole bunch of miscellaneous material for Marvel, like Spider Woman.
INFANTINO: They weren’t mine.
GROTH: But in terms of creating something — ?
INFANTINO: No, no. I wouldn’t create anything for anybody. I refused that.
GROTH: Now, you did a lot of miscellaneous work, like Nova and Spider Woman, you worked on Star Wars, you even did a Hulk…
INFANTINO: Right. While I was doing that, I was still going around getting involved with other things. So that was purely to keep my head busy while I was really busy with other things.
GROTH: Yeah, because it didn’t look like you were focusing on anything —
INFANTINO: Nah, I wasn’t that involved with the stuff I was doing.
GROTH: Was that because your interest was not that acute any more?
INFANTINO: My interest wasn’t there. I would maybe give two days a week to that stuff, and the rest of the time was devoted to everything else.
GROTH: I see. What else were you devoting your time to?
INFANTINO: I told you. I worked for H&B. Then I worked for Marvel animation. Then my mother got very sick and I had to come back home. Some bad times that happened.
GROTH: Can you tell me how you got involved with Hanna-Barbera?
INFANTINO: I knew Joe [Barbera] because I dealt with him when I was at DC. They called me after I left DC and asked me would I like to come out and do some work for them. I said I’d give it a try. I went out for a while and Mom got sick and I had to come back. My mother had a stroke at that time. So that was the end of that. Then later on I did the same for Marvel, and she got much worse and I had nurses around the clock and I just couldn’t leave her alone… I usually don’t talk about these periods. But I had to come back again. I don’t regret what I did, don’t misunderstand me. But circumstances dictate these things. You live with it.
GROTH: Now, the work you did at Hanna-Barbera was that story boards?
INFANTINO: I was designing characters.
GROTH: What characters did you work on?
INFANTINO: All sorts… I’m trying to remember what the hell these stories were… [Pause.] God, I don’t remember any more, Gary. I’d be lying if I told you something. It was such a long time ago. [Infantino subsequently remembered having doing some work on designing the Barbie cartoon —eds.]
GROTH: Did you enjoy doing that as opposed to comics work?
INFANTINO: No, I don’t like [the] animation [field]. I don’t enjoy it. Because whatever you do, after it gets watered down by so many hands, you never recognize your original drawing any more. So I was not comfortable doing it. There was a lot of money to be made. I was just not happy doing it. But then there were people who enjoyed it. But you know what I did enjoy: I enjoyed learning about animation. I know how to do a storyboard now, and how to break it down… I learned the whole business, which is good.
GROTH: Did you live in L.A. at the time?
GROTH: Now, you did a lot of stories for Jim Warren, which I thought was very unusual.
INFANTINO: Yeah. What happened was, he was the first one who contacted me. I said, “Well, I’ll do some stuff for you, but nothing full-time because I’m busy with other things.” He says, “OK, whatever you feel like giving me, you give me.” So that’s what happened.
GROTH: Did Warren himself call you?
GROTH: What was working for him like?
INFANTINO: Uhhh… [Pause.] He’s a strange man! [Laughs.] But he kept away from me, and I left him alone, so it was no problem. Then I moved on after a while.
GROTH: Did you enjoy doing those quasi-horror stories?
INFANTINO: No, not really.
GROTH: Because horror doesn’t quite seem appropriate to your style and approach.
INFANTINO: No, I wasn’t comfortable with it, if that’s what you mean. That’s a whole different genre, you know? I think with that stuff, either you like doing it, or you don’t like doing it. And I just didn’t like it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not quality. A lot of quality guys did that stuff. You know who was marvelous with that was Bernie Wrightson. Oh God, Bernie was brilliant.
GROTH: He also inked at least one of your stories there.
INFANTINO: Yeah, I think that one was stolen, if I’m not mistaken.
GROTH: Is that right?
INFANTINO: Yeah, there were about eight of my stories —that was very funny… When I left there, they were supposed to mail me parts of them because you know, they broke it down — the inker gets some, the penciler gets some. And apparently somebody walked off with some of them. And they just disappeared. There was one job I did the whole thing myself— pencil, ink, and tone. It was a space story. You know who wrote it? It’s very funny. Cary Bates, the guy who did The Flash. I think it was called “The Last Superhero On Earth.” A very interesting part. And I did the pencil, inking, and the wash tones. Then, gee, I did stuff with Bernie that I think was stolen, I did stuff with Alex Nino that was stolen.
GROTH: That was gorgeous stuff.
INFANTINO: You know that stuff I’m talking about?
INFANTINO: All kinds of beautiful stuff was just stolen. It’s gone, so what the hell do you do about it? I know the police got involved, the police called me and asked me who did I suspect? I said, “What’s gone is gone! I don’t know! I’m not going to blame anybody.” And ‘that was the end of that. But a lot of wonderful artwork was gone. And if it ever comes out, whoever took it will be in trouble.
GROTH: [Laughs.] Right. What did you think of Nino’s inking?
INFANTINO: Oh I loved it. I love everything Alex does. I think he’s totally genius, you know? He’s one of the guys that I brought over from the Philippines. Him and Redondo — he’s dead now — and there were a couple of others. They were just sensational artists, these boys.
GROTH: One thing I noticed in the Warren material was that some of the material was sexier than anything you’d ever done before.
INFANTINO: I think he wanted that stuff.
GROTH: Were you comfortable doing that?
INFANTINO: Not too.
INFANTINO: I wasn’t comfortable with anything I did for Warren.
GROTH: So why did you do it?
INFANTINO: I was keeping busy. I wanted to keep myself busy for a couple of days while I was trying other things. I didn’t want to just sit home and play with myself, you know what I mean?
GROTH: Yeah. We’re talking about the mid-’70s now.
GROTH: I think you worked for Warren in 1977 or so when there weren’t that many options for artists.
INFANTINO: Right, there wasn’t too much to do.