I've met hundreds of people who write and/or draw comics and I've liked around 98.4% of them. Haven't always liked what they
wrote and/or drew but I almost always like the creators. That may sound rather sappy but, hey, sometimes the truth is sappy.
It will probably sound even sappier when I say that Nick Cardy turned out to be one of those fortunate double-point scores: I'd always
liked his artwork, so it was a joy to meet Nick and discover that I liked him, as well. What a nice man...and what a joy to see him mobbed by
admirers, many of them distinguished artists in their own right.
They lined up to tell him how much they loved his Aquaman, his Bat Lash, his Teen Titans, his
covers...everything. A few males around my age even found discreet ways to tell him they had really loved his Wonder Girl...if you know
what I mean. (Hey, when you're 13, it doesn't take a lot...)
I first saw this happen at the 1998 Comic-Con International in San Diego, where Nicholas Cardy made his first-ever West Coast
convention appearance. That is where we conducted the following panel discussion, excerpts from which we present this week and next...
M.E.: It is a joy to have this gentleman here. We decided last year that we were going to boycott the San Diego convention
if they didn't invite him, but they did. I don't know anyone who has caused so much excitement. People come up to me and say, "I just met
Nick Cardy! Nick Cardy is here!" Show your love for Mr. Nick Cardy. [applause]
We are joined on the panel today by some people who have worked with Nick over the years. One of his closest friends, and one of the
best artists in the business, who is responsible for A Distant Soil...Colleen Doran. [applause] And [dismissively] here's Marv and Sergio.
[laughter, applause]. Marv worked with Nick on... [to Marv] your first professional story?
MARV WOLFMAN: Pretty much. And his last, I think. [laughter]
M.E.: And [prompting audience] Sergio did a book with Nick called...
Audience: [in unison] Bat Lash!
M.E.: ...which probably set some record for having the least number of issues and the most people who remember it. We'll
get to Bat Lash soon but I want to ask Nick... how do you feel about this convention? You've never been to the San Diego Comic-Con
before. Is this amazing?
NICK CARDY: Well, I'll tell ya. If I knew that there was going to be this many people coming out to see me, I'd have
learned a soft shoe dance or something. [laughter] But I'm surprised and tickled to death to find that a lot of people like my work.
M.E.: We've all loved your work and I think a lot of people feel the same way that I do. You see a certain person's work
and you feel that you know the guy. The characters have such a life that I knew that these books were drawn by a nice guy. Let's go back
and talk about your beginnings in this business.
CARDY: The first commercial work was doing Lady Luck with Will Eisner in 1940.
M.E.: But he didn't start you on Lady Luck...
CARDY: Right. I was working at Eisner and Iger. In those days, they didn't have comic houses. They had little
studios where they produced the stories on order from different publishers.
So when I first went in to Eisner's studio, he said, "Well, we have a drawing table but we don't have taborets. Go to the local
grocery store and get a couple of orange crates and use them until the new taborets we ordered come in." So I got the orange crate, and used it
to place my ink and my lunch on. Then I found out there were some guys who were working there for several years and they also had orange
crates. [laughter] At that time, I was only getting about $18 a week.
M.E.: How old were you?
CARDY: I was 18 or 19. I spent a few years there. I did Quicksilver and a few Quality strips. When I
look at those things now, I just wish they'd take them off the market. They're so awful! [laughter] Really! I did nice features,
but I gave characters flat heads... [chuckles].
M.E.: Who else was working at Eisner and Iger at the time? Lou Fine?
CARDY: I remember Lou Fine, George Tuska, Charlie Sultan. Bob Powell came in later when I was doing Lady Luck.
He was sitting behind me. He would help a kid around the block...tell a newcomer to take it easy and that sort of thing. Will Eisner had
rented an apartment at Tudor City in New York. He had one room where he worked, and the other room took up all the rest of the
I sat next to Will's door, Bob Powell sat next to me. Tex Blaisdell used to come in, and Chuck Cuidera (who was doing
Blackhawk) was there. Every now and then, Eisner would come out. It was a learning experience, watching Lou Fine work. It took
a long time to do it but it was a brilliant piece of work. In my opinion, for drawing, you couldn't beat Lou Fine. Eisner had a coarser
line but his work was more dramatic and he told a better story.
We approached it like this. A person can read a book and get a story done one way, but if you give a story to an artist, he's
like a movie director and he individualizes that story. And each artist makes a different interpretation every time.
Movie directors influenced Eisner and myself. Did you ever see the movie And Then There Were None, directed by Rene
Clair? That's fantastic! That's basically the early years.
M.E.: At this point, what did you want to do, career-wise? Were comics something to do for a couple of years?
CARDY: I wanted to be an illustrator. I think most of the guys wanted to be illustrators, but to be one you had to have an
agent and illustration was a big competitive field. With comics you at least had some money to eat and you could learn and develop.
I used to go to museums and to the illustrator societies, and I would study the illustrators. Most of the comic artists would
study other comic artists, but I wanted to be an illustrator, so I learned from the illustrators. That helped me a lot and I noticed through
the years that my work changed and got very tight. Toward the end, my work got to be what I wanted.
SOMEONE IN AUDIENCE: Do you recall the illustrators by name?
CARDY: There were quite a few artists I admired, but the first one that impressed me most was Degas. Monet was one of my
favorites. I went through the whole gauntlet. Of the illustrators, Robert Fawcett was one of my favorites. I knew of Colby Whitmore
and quite a few down the line. An artist, when he paints, knows in what direction he wants to go. So you take a little bit from this
guy...you say, "I like the way he does hair," and you take that.
After you've copied it a while, it dissipates and you develop your own style. It was the learning underneath...good, basic design
structure. There are a lot of artists who paint today and do comics, but they're not telling stories. They draw individual illustrations
and they're brilliant — but sometimes, they don't tell a story.
M.E.: So you worked for Eisner and Iger, and a couple of other houses, but then you went into the War...
CARDY: After Eisner, I went to Fiction House and I did a few stories there and then I went into the service.
M.E.: You came back with a few decorations?
CARDY: Two Purple Hearts. [applause]
I was just one of many. I wouldn't have been there if they hadn't sent me there. There were no heroes out there. I
never saw men go into battle who were heroes. Sometimes, you're so scared. One incident was when we spearheaded into Germany — the
first ones in. We were the Third Armored Division, under General Hodges, and we went through Belgium and were the first in Cologne. My
tank commander had his head blown off when we were ambushed by SS troopers with bazookas. I didn't even realize he was dead. I just saw
the flash in the turret.
Afterwards, they wanted us to clean out the tank but I said, "No way."
That night, we went to the bathroom. European bathrooms are different in that they didn't have urinals, just a wall. And we
were standing there, doing our business and this German came in and stood along side of me. He looked at me and I looked at him, and we just
ran! [laughter] There were no heroes.
M.E.: You received two Purple Hearts: One for working with Mort Weisinger... [laughter]
CARDY: [laughs] I never worked with Mort.
M.E.: You got out of the service and went back to Fiction House for a while. Then you eventually hooked up with DC.
CARDY: When I got out, I started doing advertising. I decided after the service that I wasn't going back to cartooning, so
I was doing full color covers for magazines — crossword puzzle magazines and other jobs here and there.
In-between that, I was in a studio with a couple of other artists, and I got to do the Tarzan daily newspaper strip. Burne
Hogarth asked me if I wanted to do it and he sent me the script. I worked on that for about a year. I always visualized Tarzan in the
jungle but after the first week, the story took place in the desert with Arabs or in some temple with a goddess. I said, "Where are the
trees? I want the trees and the monkeys!"
Everybody looks at my Tarzan and says, "Where's the jungle?" I also worked on Casey Ruggles for Warren Tufts, who was a good
imitator of Alex Raymond. Then I started working for DC on Gangbusters. There's some nice work in that book.
M.E.: You worked on just about everything for DC: Teen Titans, Aquaman, Congo Bill, Tomahawk, The Brave and the Bold, a
lot of romance stories. Marv, let's talk about your involvement with Nick on Teen Titans.
WOLFMAN: We did a couple of stories. The very first one was one that Nick inked. It was the origin of Wonder Girl — I keep
doing the origin of Wonder Girl [laughter] — and this was back in 1969. Nick and Gil Kane worked on it together, and it was just absolutely a
The thing about Nick's stuff — and the reason I was so thrilled that he did that particular story — is that as you're
growing up as a teenage boy, looking at pictures of Mera, you grow up a lot faster. [laughter]
CARDY: The funny thing is I get reactions. All these guys who liked Mera always want a sketch with the boobs smaller or bigger.
"I like your drawing of Wonder Girl but make her a little bigger!" [laughter] But I only do them one way. [chuckles]
WOLFMAN: The second Teen Titans was a story that no one has ever seen printed. It was a story that Len Wein and I
co-wrote that was originally intended for Teen Titans #20. It was "The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho," and Nick did probably one of
the most incredible art jobs I had ever seen up to that time. [To Nick] You did it in a style I had not seen before; you were using glue or something
and were rubbing it off.
CARDY: I tried everything. If I remember-and somebody showed me some copies of that job-there were these three black kids jumping
on the back of a bus. Instead of drawing around the lights, I did it like a woodblock print. I put the black down first and then put on the whites.
It had a different effect.
WOLFMAN: It was absolutely brilliant to see because that was a technique I sort of remembered from art school and Nick did it so
The story was written, penciled, inked, lettered, colored, and sent to the printers. It would have featured DC's first black
super-hero. The story was never published. It was pulled back at the very last second for whatever reason. It was lost for a long time and some
pages have finally showed up in Comic Book Artist. I'm thrilled to see these pages again because it was one of my very early stories and
Nick's artwork is just so magnificent.
After they decided not to publish the story, Neal [Adams] sat down and, over a weekend and using about five or six pages of the
original story that Nick had drawn, drew the other 18 or 19 pages. Nick inked the job and it was finished in less than a week to meet the
shipping date. Back then, DC was six to eight months ahead of schedule, as opposed to six to eight days [laughter] and Nick and Neal turned out
a magnificent job in less than a week. These were two guys who were working not only fast, but brilliantly. Nick's original work was even
CARDY: I don't remember, but thanks! How old were you when you first came up to DC?
WOLFMAN: I was a fetus. [laughter]
CARDY: You and Len!
WOLFMAN: At one point, we were interns up there in our young teens. I went to the High School of Art and Science, about five
blocks away from DC. They weren't used to having fans up there at the time so they let us in. It was like, "We don't know who these
people are but, sure, why not?"
Fandom did not exist at that particular time. Because I went to school a few blocks away, I would go and see Nick, Carmine, Murphy
Anderson. It was just a real thrill. You just had to look at Nick's artwork on Aquaman and the romance books and you had the
feeling that you were welcomed into it. There are some artists you can talk about the technical achievements, but you look at Nick's work and
you liked the characters. They just felt good to you.
And this feels like a good place for us to break. Next week, the conclusion of our chat with Mr. Nick Cardy and — who
knows? — I may even let Sergio talk.
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