Favorite Cover Artists Countdown # 10: Nick Cardy

Strap in. This is going to be a long one, because I love Nick Cardy and his career spanned a loooong time. How long? Well, let me show you.

The above covers are both by Nick Cardy. Notice something about them? Maybe that one of them has a 10-cent cover price and the other is $2.99? That’s because Nick did these two covers SEVENTY YEARS apart. If my own career in comics spans seventy years, I’ll be doing conventions on Venus before astro-jet-packing back to my hover-mansion on Saturn. Also, I’ll be writing with nothing but my mind, then going out to play with my many-tentacled octo-bulldog that speaks five languages and can prepare a dish of delicious Pad Thai.

Thanks, Octo-Fido!

Anyway… it’s time to enter the hallowed ground of my top ten favorite comic book cover artists, and for that… we’re going to pull out the stops and give Nick Cardy a big fat showcase of his material. The Grand Old Man deserves it.

Favorite Cover Artists # 10: Nick Cardy

When I think of Nick Cardy covers, his run on Aquaman is one of the first things that comes to mind. Nick created some REALLY inventive covers for the title. This one, above, shows a time when he was creating covers much like the other DC covers of the time, story covers that relied on kitsch WTF factor. That would soon change.

It wasn’t long before Nick was doing wildly inventive covers. Playing with both the layouts and even the logo itself, coming up with designs that I like to think owed a lot to the culture of the 60’s. I really hope Nick was lounging in his studio-boudoir, with go-go girls in cages, and Miles Davis on stage, with Hugh Hefner watching as Nick sketched out his cover ideas with a grease pencil on Twiggy’s bare stomach. Rather than go into huge commentary with each cover, I’m going to just start with a gallery sampling of the MANY wonderful Aquaman covers that Nick produced.

The other “main” title where Nick really made his mark was Teen Titans. Like Aquaman, it was a second tier book where an artist could really cut loose and experiment. And experiment Nick did. Some of his most engaging covers are for this title, and some of his most scrumptious girls as well. I really love Nick Cardy’s women. In fact, before we delve into a Teen Titans cover gallery, let me introduce you to a couple of the Cardy ladies.

Yum! And, of course, since this is a romance comic... we know that this girl will eventually realize that true love means remaining chaste, and not going out to party with every suave Casanova, especially ones wearing some sort of crazed LSD Uncle Sam dancing outfit. Instead, she'll soon be home, baking pies and clipping her husband's toenails in the manner of "proper" ladies. Seriously, romance comics are about the most deadening things to any vibrant relationship. But... they LOOK great!

There. This is more like it. Here we have a cover for the New Adventures of Snow White, known as one of the purest of all heroines, seen here in a moment of repose (likely dreaming of a new cross-stitch pattern she read about in Chaste Endeavors Quarterly) while her noble friends inquire as to her health and well-being and perhaps engage her in politcal discourse considering tariffs on 3rd world exports.

Those were exactly the types of drawings I'd expect from a man who had this kind of mustache, and smoked a pipe.

So… have I established that Nick knew how to draw the ladies? If not, you’ll certainly find further evidence in this gallery of Teen Titans covers. The first three will be three of my favorite Wonder Girl covers and they… umm… choke… oh Wonder Girl… I… I love you so.

Here's a particularly fine example of Cardy's eye-catching and innovative cover designs.

An original cover, and then Cardy’s color recreation. Any cover where Robin is getting punched is okay in my book.

One last Teen Titans cover. A nice haunting image. I think the design and the colors for this one are perfect, and apparently I'm not alone, since I've seen quite a few homages to this piece.

A Cardy cover where Superman fights Zartox… obviously inspired by the role played by Sean Connery in the movie Zardoz. I… really can’t believe that the Zardoz movie inspired anything but an abrupt halt to Sean Connery’s career and a precipitous drop in cocaine consumption after the film crew left town, but… here it is.

A look at Cardy's illustrative range, from when he was working on Crazy magazine, the biggest rival Mad Magazine ever had, excepting only puberty.

A nice moody cover. Reminds me of Steranko's work.

Star Sapphire usually charges me three hundred bucks for this sort of treatment.

A very moody and emotionally charged cover. Love the dense clouds and Superman's slumped posture and, seriously Supes, your dad's a dick.

Another of DC's very under-rated titles. Bat Lash was some great western fun, and the covers often sported slightly more comedic Cardy covers, with more than slightly attractive Cardy women.

Two more Bat Lash covers. I love Western comics. Wish they sold better. And now… it’s time to wrap this all up with a Cardy gallery showcasing some original art, and also some of his really tremendous work on DC’s horror titles. Thanks for all this beautiful art, Nick!

Parts you’ve probably read in earlier posts:

The Disclaimer:

You might not see your favorite artist during this countdown. That’s okay. Don’t get mad. Some of MY favorite artists aren’t here. Hugo Pratt, Bernie Krigstein, Mike Wieringo… these guys (and others) are fantastic artists, but their covers just don’t strike me. Some people need sequential panels in order to have their art sing… and that’s okay. Furthermore, this list is subjective to my moods of the moment, so if you disagree with me, then rest assured that I probably disagree with me, too. That said, I welcome any and all comments as this list progresses over time.

THE FINE PRINT: (Why I’m doing this)

Recently, on a trip to a comic store, I was DISGUSTED by the overall lack of design on covers. Most covers were nothing more than two or three characters punching each other and snarling, the exact kind of design that I would have worked out when I was eight years old, and spat on by the time I was ten. So, why do such covers proliferate the shelves? One reason is for trade dressing… so that any cover can be put upon almost any trade compilation, which is one of the reasons behind the other Far Too Common cover design… that of the character or team standing at attention, looking tough, staring at the viewer. Fuck that. I’m lucky enough to work largely with editor Nate Cosby, who does very good work at hiring talented cover artists and creating covers that don’t piss me off, but in consideration of my other less lucky friends, and the industry as a whole, I’m going to spend the next few weeks counting down my own personal Top 40 Comic Book Cover Artists… the ones who got it right.

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Favorite Cover Artists Countdown # 10: Nick Cardy

  1. Paul Tobin

    I like it, too! Originally couldn’t find a very good scan of it, though.

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