The news began to circulate late Sunday night, that legendary comic-book artist Nick Cardy was ailing, and the outlook wasn’t good. And within a matter of hours, we’d all gotten the word: Nick was dead at the age of 93. And while it’s sad to see him go, it’s at least comforting to look back not only at Nick’s amazing body of work, but also to acknowledge that unlike so many great artists of comics’ Golden and Silver Ages, Nick was able to get some of the recognition and acclaim he deserved, returning to the comics scene in the late 90s and early 2000s after decades away with appearances at conventions where thousands of fans, both professional and readers alike, got the chance to meet him and let him know how much his work meant to them. Present company included.
Born Nicholas Viscardi on October 20, 1920, Nick attended the Art School of New York and got his first job in the comics industry around 1939, working for Will first Eisner & Iger Studio and then Will Eisner’s solo operation, most notably on the backup feature “Lady Luck” for Eisner’s Sunday newspaper “Spirit Sections.”
After entering the military during World War II and earning two Purple Hearts as a tank driver in the armored cavalry. Cardy returned to civilian life and began a long professional relationship with DC Comics in 1950, where he was best known for his landmark stints on AQUAMAN and TEEN TITANS.
Cardy’s AQUAMAN run began with a very appealing, simple style, as seen here with the introduction of Mera, Aquaman’s love interest and eventual bride:
Cardy also created Aquaman’s best known adversary: Black Manta.
But for me, when I think of Nick Cardy’s work, I always think of TEEN TITANS, and especially Nick’s Wonder Girl, a character he created if anyone can be said to create a character with such a crazy mixed-up backstory.
A personal favorite story of mine was Nick’s TITANS Christmas issue. Love that gorgeous Donna Troy in a Santa outfit.
Nick was also an accomplished cover artist, drawing some of the moodiest and most evocative covers DC ever published. Let’s look at a few favorites:
When Nick left comics in the 1970s, he moved on to a successful career as a commercial artist, working on posters and promotional art for films like NEIL SIMON’S CALIFORNIA SUITE, MEATBALLS and APOCALYPSE NOW, just to name a few.
If you’d like to enjoy Nick’s work in larger doses, look for DC’s SHOWCASE editions of AQUAMAN and TEEN TITANS, or better yet, go seek out the back issues. You’ll be glad you did.