Tuesday

R.I.P. Nick Cardy

Like everyone else, I was saddened to hear that Nick Cardy passed away yesterday at the age of 93. Cardy was one of the great comics artists of the 1950s-1970s, primarily at DC Comics where he was one of the great cover artists in that period and of all time in the comics field. Cardy went onto become a major movie poster artist before mostly retiring. Cardy was a largely self-taught artist who began working in comics and illustration while still a teenager before being drafted. He was a decorated World War II veteran and for decades has been known as one of the nicest people you'll meet.

Born in 1920, Cardy began working in comics at the age of 18 for the Eisner/Iger Studio (founded by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger). He worked on a variety of projects but most notably "Lady Luck" which he drew as a backup for Eisner's "The Spirit" section. After about a year, Cardy left Eisner's studio for Fiction House.

Cardy was later drafted and fought in World War II. He was originally assigned to the 66th Infantry Division - The Black Panther Division - and Cardy designed the unit's insignia. Cardy later became an Assistant Tank Driver in the Third Armored Division and served in the European Theater. While there he kept a sketchpad and his sketches were collected in the book "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War" which was originally published by Eva Ink Publishing and this year was printed in a new edition from Titan Books.

After the war he worked in illustration, comic strips and other fields before he ended up in comic books. He began a long association with DC Comics initially working on series like "Tomahawk" and "Congo Bill."

His greatest success in comics was in the sixties. Cardy took over drawing "Aquaman" and odds are that for many comics readers they know Cardy's version of the character. Cardy went onto draw "Teen Titans" for the publisher before moving onto the short-lived (but much loved by many people including myself) Western series "Bat Lash." There was also a long run on "The Brave and the Bold" where Batman teamed up with various others from the DC Universe. Cardy was also a major cover artist at DC, drawing hundreds of covers for the company.

Cardy was a skilled artist and many have commented on his great skill at drawing women. Reading comics he drew it's easy to see why. Of course many others have mentioned that Cardy was no slouch in drawing men, either. In this sense Cardy was perhaps the aesthetic ideal for many comics fans, with attractive men and women populating a world of fantastic derring-do.

It was Cardy's covers though that perhaps attracted the most attention and should still be examined by artists today. Cardy played with design and style, he often drew cover images that were more interesting and had more story in that single image than the comic itself had. Moreover he was able to attract the reader's attention.

Cardy went on to focus on movie posters, something that he admitted was much more lucrative and drew posters for movies including "The Streetfighter" with Sonny Chiba, "Movie Movie" with George C. Scott, "California Suite," "Meatballs 2," "Apocalypse Now."

I had the opportunity to talk with Cardy two years ago and at the beginning he joked about his age and apologized for whatever I would ask him that he couldn't remember, but even in his nineties, he was a funny, engaging man who was happy to spend an hour talking with a writer a third of his age about events that for the most part happened long before I was born.

He was a fine artist, a kind man, and he'll be missed.

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