Monday, November 4, 2013

Nick Cardy 1920-2013

I'm really into Nick Cardy's art.  He's one of those "I wish I drew like him" guys.  He turned pro as a teen, served in WWII, came home to the US and went back to drawing.  I haven't read any of his Aquaman books, but his Teen Titans work has made that one of my all-time favorite books and propelled him into the top tier of my comic art pantheon.  It's a joy to look at Cardy's Titans, either in color on Comixology or in B&W in one of the two Showcase Presents volumes.

Cardy could draw anything.  Giant conquistador statues walking around, jalopies, hot rods, "Big Daddy" Ed Roth, the Tokyo Olympics, go-go dancers, teenaged cavepeople, outer space, you name it.  His Teen Titans issues are just full of that elusive element we call "appeal."  There's something bright and optimistic about it and if you spend an afternoon immersed in Cardy's Teen Titans art (and digging on Bob Haney's wild and woolly socially-aware plots), it will lift your mood.

Cardy excelled at facial expressions (there's a lot of Norman Rockwell in his work at times), bodies in motion and this characteristic style of ink feathering that's loose sometimes to the point of being curvilinear zig-zags that follow the exterior contour lines at times and at others are parallel to them (see this the cover to Teen Titans #5 right here), or diagonal to them or almost perpendicular.  However Cardy did it, these touches create a distinct sense of roundness-- as if the curved surfaces of a body are falling away into shadow-- that's unique to Cardy's work.  Sometimes he'd do just a series of diagonal single hatch mark lines, but I've never seen anyone else do the zig-zag thing as successfully as Cardy.  Whenever I see that, I'm pretty sure I'm looking at Nick Cardy art, self-inked or on someone else's pencils.  Sometimes tight, sometimes loose, always beautiful.

And then there are all those covers.  What a sense of drama and design!  And masterful control of eye movement.  Teen Titans #5 (October 1966, by the way), the two foreground figures swing at you on that wrecking ball thanks to the sweet tilting action and then you go from the logo to the Ant's head, then follow the arc of movement down his leg to Robin's face, which points us as the background element of his teammates as they watch in dismay.  Robin's going to die!  An entire story in one image.  No wonder he moved on to doing movie ad work.

Nick Cardy drew the sunniest, sassiest Wonder Girl, too.

Teen Titans #5 (October 1966), Writer: Bob Haney/Pencils and Inks: Nick Cardy

Anyway, thanks for making comics a lot more fun, Nick Cardy.  You will be missed.

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