Beard: Nick Cardy’s work was ‘fresh and hip’Written by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In comic book circles, the label “innovator” has been slapped on a multitude of creators, but perhaps it’s most apt when applied to Nick Cardy, who died Nov. 3. Having worked his way up through the industry from his first gigs in the 1940s, Cardy found a true creative home at DC Comics in the 1950s and ’60s, and began to break many of the rules of comic book art. By the beginning of the 1970s, he was being praised for not only his lush, multitoned interiors, but also for comic book covers that not only redefined the borders of the art, but made a generation of fans sit up and take notice.
“I first became aware of Nick Cardy’s work as a teenager working in my very first comic book shop when I stumbled upon a handful of Teen Titans issues he illustrated from the late ’60s,” said Monarch Cards & Comics’ Ed Katschke. “I was never much of a DC Comics fan at that age, but I was instantly taken in by his cover artistry. So much of DC’s art output during the ’60s didn’t appeal to me at all at that age, but Cardy’s work, even 20 years out, looked fresh and hip and cool. While veteran DC artists like Curt Swan or Kurt Schaffenberger were rather stodgy and unexciting, Nick Cardy’s figures were dynamic and sexy, the action sequences fun and full of the excitement lacking in much of his peers’ work. Cardy did a lot to bring the sensibilities of the swingin’ sixties to comic book art that many other veteran artists of the period were never quite able to duplicate.”
If male baby boomer comic fans were polled about their first comic book character crush, Nick Cardy’s Wonder Girl would surely top the list. On the cover of 1969’s Teen Titans No. 23, the young heroine smashes through a portrait of herself to show off her new look — and to capture the hearts of fanboys everywhere. Cardy had previously illustrated many a female character, but in Wonder Girl his powers of drawing strength and sex appeal coalesced in equal quantity.
Today, the cover is frequently ranked among those with the most impact in comic book history.