Anton Previn

While at work Barry Allen receives a phone call from top international women’s designer Anton Previn who’s come to Central City with his latest portfolio. Barry recounts meeting Previn five years before on a trip to Paris and “[they] became fast friends”. Barry stores Previn’s portfolio in a police safe until his show the following day. The two men go for a walk and Previn shares that he wants to meet some American women to get their opinions on his clothing designs. Apparently in the Silver Age DC universe of 1961 Central City is a hot bed of fashion design. Naturally, Iris is Barry’s only choice to introduce to Anton, and she’s simply beside herself with happiness when meeting “The Anton Previn!” Anton is utterly charming, holding out a white-gloved hand to take Iris’ while complimenting her. On the other hand, so to speak, Barry isn’t the least bit jealous at the thought of Iris  and Previn becoming friends — because even Barry knows his friend is gay.

Art by Carmine Infantino

The two of them talk over coffee. Iris doesn’t waste a minute telling Anton that she thinks Barry could be more romantic. In turn, he remarks: “No offense, my dear, but a change in hair style and in make up — just a soupcon of difference” [emphasis in original] and he offers to re-do her look. Iris agrees and for the rest of the story Previn works his homo designer mojo to turn her into a ravishing beauty. Meanwhile Barry, as the Flash, is battling it out with the Top in their first encounter. Anton, smoking a cigarette in a long stemmed holder, shows off the new Iris to Barry who’s too dumbstruck by her new look to pay even the most minor of compliments. Of course, Iris interprets her fiance’s speechlessness as disapproval, and reverts to her former look. Anton looks rather speechless himself with Barry’s reaction. Or should I write “Barree” since this is how writer John Broome spelled it.

In addition to allegedly being the world’s top designer of his day, Previn had the ability to ceate the most florid hand gestures, and would certainly rank right behind Dr. Strange and Spider-man, especially as drawn by Steve Ditko. Ditko’s hand style was a stylistic choice. With Infantino here, I assume he and Broome wanted to convey that Previn is homosexual and bypass the Comics Code Authority. Plus, Infantino drew Previn with a fussy hairstyle, unlike the other men whose hair is worn short in keeping with contemporary looks. If old Allen coworker Patty Spivot can make a comeback, then why not bring Previn back as confidant for Iris?

Previn’s first and only appearance is in Flash #122 (August 1961) and reprinted in the 80 paged giant Flash # 169 and Flash Archives #3.

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May 1, 2011
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